GCC telecoms urged to seize blockchain opportunity

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Jad Hajj, partner with Strategy& Middle East.
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Dr. Daniel Diemers, partner with Strategy& in Zurich.
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Ramzi Khoury, principal with Strategy& Middle East.
Updated 01 July 2019
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GCC telecoms urged to seize blockchain opportunity

Blockchain technology is expected to have a tremendous impact on GCC national economies. To harness its full potential, telecom operators have to adopt the right strategy, operating model, partnerships, and capabilities for their selected blockchain value proposition, and engage with regulators, according to a recent study by Strategy& Middle East, part of the PwC network. 

The new study discusses the benefits that blockchain can offer and how telecom operators in the Middle East and North Africa are positioned to profit from this technology. 

Dr. Daniel Diemers, partner with Strategy& in Zurich, said: “Blockchain as a technology has been adopted by businesses across various industries and its potential is expected to reach $96 billion by 2024, according to market estimates. Like other industries, we are witnessing an increased adoption of blockchain technology within the telecom sector.” 

Blockchain is one way to reassure customers that their information is protected. Due to its encryption technology and the dispersal of information, it is very difficult to hack and is not susceptible to a single point of technical failure. It can also reduce transaction costs by removing unnecessary middlemen and document duplication.

According to the study, internally, blockchain can streamline telecom operators’ storage of customer identities, reduce the costs of number portability, and facilitate roaming services between multiple operators. 

“However, telecom operators have to adapt,” said Jad Hajj, partner with Strategy& Middle East. “They must carefully analyze their own capabilities before selecting their value proposition and a target market. A portfolio of relevant use cases for each target market is needed for more effective marketing and business development.” 

Ramzi Khoury, principal with Strategy& Middle East, said: “There has been limited adoption of blockchain within the MENA region, although there is considerable interest in the countries of the GCC. Interestingly, GCC organizations are creating the very partnerships that telecom operators should consider.”

Dubai’s government is planning for all visa applications, bill payments, and license renewals to be transacted digitally using blockchain. 

Saudi Arabia’s central bank, the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, has declared a joint initiative with the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates to use blockchain to issue a digital currency for cross-border transactions.


ICD & We-Fi empower women entrepreneurs

Updated 18 September 2019

ICD & We-Fi empower women entrepreneurs

With the aim of discussing how the Islamic Corporation for the Development of the Private Sector (ICD) and the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative (We-Fi) can expand their relationship and integrate the gender themes into ICD’s operations and businesses, a meeting was held between Ayman Amin Sejiny, CEO of ICD; Wendy Teleki, head of We-Fi secretariat; and Samir Suleymanov, director strategic initiatives, World Bank, at ICD’s premises in Jeddah recently. The parties discussed the development and promotion of women’s entrepreneurship through innovative sustainable solutions to increase women’s access to economic opportunities in developing countries. 

Teleki highlighted the main objectives of We-Fi, which is to support women entrepreneurs around the world through programs that provide financing, capacity building and also promote enabling environments that allow women to become entrepreneurs and grow their businesses. We-Fi uses an ecosystem approach to develop programs at the country level that will break down barriers and create more opportunities for women.

During the meeting, Ayman said: “ICD and We-Fi are working together to enhance their initiatives and mandates in supporting the female society in all ICD’s member countries. We want to ensure that our lines of finance and our relationship with the 102 directly connected financial institutions we are dealing with will further enhance the funding, training to women entrepreneurs and to provide the required necessary support to women in all our member countries.”

Teleki said that We-Fi has six implementing partners (IP) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) is one of them. “IsDB, along with ICD is supporting women entrepreneurs in fragile countries. In Yemen, they have a very interesting ongoing program named BRAVE Women. They target to train up to 500 women to learn to develop business plans in fragile and high-risk contexts and up to 400 of them will get access to funding on a matching grant basis. This program aims also to develop the relationship between those women entrepreneurs with the local banks and also lead companies to make sure those women have access to finance and markets to grow their businesses. Moreover, the IsDB and ICD will be implementing soon this BRAVE Women program in two other countries to improve the women’s entrepreneurship potential in key economic sectors and we look forward to seeing those programs happening in future,” she said.

We-Fi is a global platform that seeks to support over a 100,000 women around the world in the next five years and mobilize at least $2 billion from the public and private sector for further activities.