Informa to Host First-Ever GSM Conference in East and Central Africa

5/20/2005 - Informa Telecoms & Media, the world's leading conference producer in the field of mobile telecommunications and wireless Internet, announced that it was ready to host a successful, inaugural GSM in East and Central Africa conference and exhibition. Informa's pioneering event comes amid rapid growth in the region, as the number of East Africa's mobile subscribers nears 17.6 million. Telecoms and Media World Cellular Database reported that subscriptions would reach this volume by the end of 2005. By 2009, the region will have 40 million subscribers.

The two-day conference and exhibition for the GSM industry in East and Central Africa will be held on 2 and 3 June in Mombasa, Kenya. Kenya is a country whose mobile market has set an example for the region. "Kenya's growth rate over the past five years has been phenomenal," says Informa Marketing Manager Fiona Loud. "We see Mombasa as a hot spot within the world's fastest growing mobile market." The country's market jumped to five times its size from 2000 to 2001, and has grown steadily since then, doubling in both 2002 and 2003, according to Informa's recently released report, "African Mobile Opportunities."

"The African market is still very open," explains Informa Event Researcher Jordan Stone. "There is room. Room to accommodate the latest technologies, room to invest in up-and-coming providers."

New steps toward liberalization are helping companies take hold of the region. Operator case studies presented at the conference will help investors understand market dynamics and build strategies for success. They will also provide insight into the regulatory changes taking place in East African countries. "We will have the opportunity to hold some very useful discussions here about just what to do and how to do it, and the focus will be solely on the GSM network," Stone says.

The conference, which will include discussions with top providers and analysts as well as workshops and panels, will offer a complete look at GSM's present and future in the region. Mombasa's Whitesands Hotel will host the event, which is part of Informa's groundbreaking GSM World Series. A pre-conference seminar on June 1 will focus specifically on new opportunities in satellite and GSM. Sponsors include France Telecom, Huawei and Nokia.

Executive Vice President Claire Paponneau, of France Telecom, a world class international carrier and established partner in the wholesale market, will participate in an interactive panel session on maintaining growth in the region. Secrets to East and Central Africa's growth could lie in the company's expertise in mobile hubbing and comprehensive data roaming solutions.

Leading international telecommunications vendor Huawei will have its range of wireless communications solutions out for show, and a senior representative from the company will speak on strategies and content applications. Huawei's activities include innovations in research and development, manufacturing, marketing and sales and customer support.

Nokia, a driving force behind the growth and sustainability of the broader mobility industry with its easy-to-use and innovative products, will be represented by Neil Cary, Nokia's sales director for South & Central Africa, who will explain how to construct competitive networks.

A colorful gathering of exhibitors will display their wares. The exhibition will feature cutting-edge technology tailored for East and Central Africa's needs. Solutions for innovative access and public service, as well as card and payment options will be on display.

Informa will invite company leaders like Michael Joseph of Kenya's Safaricom and Martin Dirks of the Democratic Republic of Congo's Celtel, as well as Africa GSM Association Chairman Vitalis Olunga and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)'s Eme Essien, to discuss licensing issues, pricing strategies and the region's growth potential.

"We are bringing the driving forces behind the industry together under one roof," explains Loud. "Our successful West Africa conference united operators with software developers, manufacturers, vendors-representatives from every aspect of the GSM industry-and gave them a chance to grow individually through a comprehensive exchange of ideas. That is our goal here."

The conference's broad scope will allow for discussions on a range of issues affecting the GSM markets in countries across the region. Bankers and investors will offer their take on East and Central Africa's potential while government representatives and regulators will discuss the steps for successful ventures in their countries. Content providers and industry analysts will converge on the direction GSM is taking in the area.

Eleven operators will give presentations on their companies' performances and goals. State-of-the-art exhibitions will divulge the latest in GSM innovations while four interactive sessions will give participants the chance to formulate their own ideas for the growth of the GSM market. Speeches by prominent figures in the region stud the conference's agenda.

Africa surpassed even the Middle Eastern mobile market for growth in 2004 and has registered, for the first time, a higher number of mobile users. Its growth rate has been clocked at 52%, and in 2004 10.7 million Africans subscribed during the first six months alone. But even with over 68 million mobile customers, Africa's markets are by no means saturated. Kenya's penetration rate, for instance is a mere 9.75%, but that is a jump from just 5.9% a year earlier.

The regional draw of the conference will also help participants compare different countries' markets. Participating countries include Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.

About Informa Telecoms and Media
Informa Telecoms & Media is the World's leading conference producer in the field of mobile telecommunications and wireless Internet. Informa Telecoms & Media is committed to providing business intelligence and strategic services to the global telecom and media markets. From research, trend analysis and primary data to conferences and face-to-face training, their unique product offerings, driven by a deep understanding of the markets served, enable customers to make better business decisions.

Informa Telecoms and Media are the producers of the 3GSM World Congress. This year 34,000 executives met at the event to discuss key challenges and opportunities facing the mobile industry. With over 140 strategically focused events annually in telecom, media and IT including the GSM World Series which covers Africa, Americas, Asia, India, Central Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East & Gulf and Central Asia.

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