Innovation. That is the key word for Yousef Abu Mutawe, COO at Zain Jordan, as he links it to all the topics during the conversation with CommsMEA. He believes that the region, not only Jordan, is lacking when promoting innovation and request a more constructive approach to the regulators in the region.
Mutawe sets one exception: the United Arab Emirates. He thinks that, in the country, innovation is part of the development and the government has set it at its core.
“In my opinion, we need regulation not only focused on selling spectrum and licenses. We need regulations that support innovation and change. The change is not only on having 2G, 3G or 4G. Transformation also includes to realise how people transact, how people learn, how they move,” he said to CommsMEA.
The consumer needs to be in first place, this is a lesson that operators have already learnt, and they are paying attention to what the consumer needs. Mutawe requests a commitment from the government to encourage investment in the telecommunications sector. “What regulators are taking care of right now is 3G or 4G, they are thinking in a traditional way, they do not innovate. This is what we lack.”
He sets an example and believes that, in order to develop the Internet of Things in the region, Machine to Machine (M2M) needs to be regulated, and the country authorities need to impose different initiatives that will stimulate the investment. “For example, if the Ministry of Education sets an initiative to stat certain moves to achieve every year or every quarter to bring our boards to digital boards, or to make our students, interactive students; companies will have to invest. The regulators do not force these investments and they do not set deadlines. This is what we lack in the region,” he said.
“What we need is to have a vision that captivates all the needs and put the consumer and citizen’s priorities in first place. We need to think how to figure out the transactions within the society. This is missing. We need a centralised entity that cultivate and articulate all of those needs. We need a useful way to deploy the existing infrastructure,” Mutawe added.
To embrace this potential, he thinks that the telecoms sector needs to evolve faster and be ready to invest in infrastructure. However, the lack of support from the regulators does not help to achieve this aim, he said. “In order to be able to have the infrastructure, we need to be agile and evolve at the same time. This is what we are lacking in our region, as the technology is much faster and infrastructure is not evolving that fast.”
“We are living in, what I called, the unbalanced era. Customers are asking more but the operators are not ready to face this transformation as fast as it is required. We need to think how to monetise data and how to monetise the infrastructure,” he added.
Small and medium enterprises and star ups are also part of the solution, according to Mutawe. The private and public sector need to gather and offer an opportunity to these companies to provide the innovation that the region is lacking in terms of Internet of Things development, says Mutawe.
“Zain Jordan has an incubator and the company is already investing in SMEs and start-ups. Our role is not only to provide consumers the rights tools to communicate, out roles is also to be part of information creation. We need to find the way to accelerate the creation of information,” he explains.
Mutawe says that a healthy ecosystem with SMEs will promote the innovation needed and it will boost the telecommunication sector. Again, he highlights that the regulators need to take part of this initiative too and promote SMEs and start-ups.
He remains positive and see a future change, but he reminds that there is still much work to be done. For instance, to see Amman as a smart city, the government and operators will have to work together to enable this promising future for the Jordanian capital, Mutawe concludes.