Winning touch

At the beginning of this month CommsMEA hosted its second annual awards night, which was aimed at acknowledging the significant progress that continues to be made in the telecoms space across the Middle East and Africa.

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By  Administrator Published  September 11, 2007

At the beginning of this month CommsMEA hosted its second annual awards night, which was aimed at acknowledging the significant progress that continues to be made in the telecoms space across the Middle East and Africa.

Some 300 industry participants attended the event in Dubai and while the inaugural event in 2006 enjoyed a certain energy given it was the first of its kind, this year's ceremony had a certain authority to it, given the calibre of nominees and the attendees present.

Awards were presented in 12 categories, spanning technology implementations, investment strategies, as well as individual citations for overall contribution to the sector in the region.

MTC Group came away the well-deserved winner of the Overall Network Operator of the Year award, for its unrelenting pursuit of excellence. Having won the third mobile licence in Saudi Arabia earlier in the year, and working towards an international IPO in Europe during the course of next year, MTC is very much the embodiment of the ambitions of companies from across the region to venture on to the international stage.

MTC is also in the process of an ambitious re-branding programme to assume a single brand identity across its 21 markets. It is a bold move, heralding the arrival of a singular force in mobile telecoms, and comes as part of the operator's vision to count 70 million subscribers across its networks by 2011.

Thus it comes as no surprise that the man credited with inspiring much of this success - MTC Group CEO, Saad Al Barrak, was the recipient of CommsMEA's Lifetime Achievement Award. In just five years under his tenure, Al Barrak has transformed the operator from a single-country operator, to an entity that spans 21 countries and services 32 million subscribers across the Middle East and Africa. Al Barrak's presence has also seen the company's market value increase ten-fold, currently standing at around US$30 billion.

MTC's African subsidiary Celtel also walked away with a prize for its innovative One Network service. The honour was bestowed on the player for its ability to differentiate itself from a well-entrenched incumbent, and in so doing offer value to the market and gain significant market share.

Etisalat-Misr was a deserving winner of the New Entrant of the Year award given its strong showing in the Egyptian market, adding a million subscribers within its first 80 days of operation. Staying in Egypt, Telecom Egypt, one of the largest fixed line operators in the region was judged as the Fixed Line Operator of the Year, beating off Etisalat and STC. Telecom Egypt's re-invention and increased customer focus as a result of the growing level of competition in Egypt was viewed as sufficient motivation to deem the telco a winner.

South Africa's MTN was the only company to do a double, having already been judged Africa's leading mobile operator last year. The Johannesburg-based operator's consistency, successful integration of Investcom and general operational prowess left the judges in little doubt of its deserved award this year as well.

Other winners on the night included Roshan in Afghanistan, Qtel for its acquisition of Wataniya, Batelco's ISP business, Mena Telecom in Bahrain, and Inmarsat's BGAN service.

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