Telecommunications executives in Middle East and North Africa are expecting an Internet "gold rush" to sweep the region, international management consultants Andersen Consulting said Monday.
An Andersen survey of 46 senior executives of leading telecommunications and Internet service providers and government offices in 10 countries predicted "an Internet gold rush will sweep the region, contributing to a new Internet economy".
But Andersen partner Philippe Rixhon stressed that the increase in demand meant current communication providers could not delay the introduction of new services. “E-speed means sacrificing bureaucracy in favor of delivering new and better services as fast as customers want them.”
“Optimism is tempered with the very real concerns about how the regulatory environment will need to be adapted to cater to this growth, while still protecting existing organizations, which often have a social role in providing basic telephone and data services to their countries' citizens," he warned.
Four out of five executives interviewed said they expected the traditional carriers to remain dominant as the "largest suppliers of services in Middle Eastern telecommunications market, possibly in conjunction with local or foreign partners."
Even the liberal Gulf emirate of Dubai, which has launched a series of mega-projects in a headlong rush to become the region's e-capital, has only one Internet service provider (ISP).
Fears still persist among businessmen that the promise by Dubai Internet City, which opened last month, to offer a number of ISPs to complement the heavily criticized state-run Etisalat will not be immediately forthcoming. — (AFP, Dubai)
© Agence France Presse 2000
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)