Muna Al Hashemi, CEO, Batelco: Interview

Muna Al Hashemi, CEO, Batelco

Interview: Muna Al Hashemi

To what extent would more infrastructure sharing help provide better service for customers?

MUNA AL HASHEMI: In the mobile technology context, infrastructure sharing can help expand coverage to previously unserved or congested areas, which then translates into better quality of service. Infrastructure sharing would also reduce operational and investment costs, which would give the public better value for money for telecommunications services. As a general policy, wherever it is possible without impacting customer experience, Batelco encourages sharing methods, as these have a positive environmental effect and optimise limited resources.

How close is the industry in Bahrain to reaching so-called digital convergence, and what prevents greater and faster uptake?

AL HASHEMI: Batelco considers digital convergence a certainty in the future. It’s evident that the world’s industries are working towards unifying communication channels and implementing processes and systems that will integrate separate types of media. Such goals require the collaboration of all stakeholders, ranging from regulators to device manufacturers, operators and content owners. We are working towards this by making processes ready and implementing a few proof-of-concepts in this context.

With ICT services increasingly in demand, what services have the most potential in Bahrain?

AL HASHEMI: With projects such as five-star hotels, malls, and large-scale real estate coming into fruition in the kingdom, we find that there is a large demand now for deploying complete ICT infrastructures to suit the needs of these large projects. Critical elements such as data centres, internet protocol data network infrastructure and unified communications are some of the most essential ICT services that exist in Bahrain, and they are seeing continued demand.

What are the most in-demand ICT solutions when it comes to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Bahrain?

AL HASHEMI: SMEs are increasingly focused on lowering overhead costs and minimising up-front investments in hardware. For this reason, SMEs are mostly attracted to cloud-based solutions. They offer a cheaper alternative to expensive hardware, which requires complex installation and maintenance.

Recently, Batelco’s ICT portfolio has expanded to include a range of cloud-based ICT solutions that cut costs for businesses and allow them to substantially increase their operational efficiency. These services include customer relationship management, accounting tools, human resources management systems and data storage. Local server and data hosting of this kind enhances the user experience on many levels, including by increasing the speed and overcoming the security threats of storing data through an international host.

Where do you see opportunities for foreign investors within the ICT sphere in Bahrain?

AL HASHEMI: Bahrain’s telecommunications and ICT markets are among the most dynamic in the world and certainly within the region. Mobile penetration is at 183% – above both the regional and global average. Almost every home has internet access, and many government and banking services are available online. This makes Bahrain a haven for any ICT opportunity that targets the country, the region or even the global market. Bahrain can be used as a testing ground for products and a launching pad for doing business in the GCC. Batelco has developed technology and innovation centres to support businesses and entrepreneurs in generating innovative ideas, services and applications. With a highly developed and growing sector, there are good opportunities for investors to come and do business in the kingdom.

Anchor text: 
Muna Al Hashemi

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The Report: Bahrain 2016

Telecoms & IT chapter from The Report: Bahrain 2016