GSMA Introduces New Brand for Development Fund With Launch of GSMA Mobile for Development

Dr. Nasser Marafih Appointed Chairman of the GSMA Mobile For Development Foundation

24 September 2012, London: The GSMA today announced that, to better reflect the enabling role of mobile in developing markets, the GSMA Development Fund has been renamed GSMA Mobile for Development. The GSMA also announced that Dr. Nasser Marafih, CEO of Qtel Group, has been appointed Chairman of the Board of the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation (previously GSMA Foundation), which promotes the work of GSMA Mobile for Development with the international development community and brokers and manages public-private partnerships.

“The new name more clearly reflects our mission to put relevant, impactful services into the hands of underserved people and is more indicative of the evolving role of mobile as a key tool enabling positive social and economic change,” said Chris Locke, Managing Director, GSMA Mobile for Development. “Through its ubiquity, mobile is the predominant infrastructure in emerging markets and the GSMA’s Mobile for Development programme will continue to bring together mobile operators, the wider mobile industry and the development community to drive commercial mobile services for underserved people in emerging markets.”

“Thank you to the GSMA Board for appointing me as the first Chairman,” said Qtel Group CEO Dr. Nasser Marafih. “There is a profound synergy between the aims of the GSMA Foundation and Qtel Group’s vision. We are committed to improving the lives of our customers, and to making a valuable difference in the markets where we operate in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. We aim at extending the benefits of mobile technology to the underserved communities across our footprint, with programmes such as mLearning in Tunisia and mobile money for the unbanked in Indonesia. We have also launched pioneering initiatives to increase mobile access for women in Iraq and Indonesia, and have tailored mobile services for people with special needs in Qatar. In a similar capacity, I look forward to working with the GSMA and its partners to encourage the development of life-enhancing services that meet the wants and needs of underserved people across all emerging markets.”

“We are extremely pleased to welcome such a senior and respected figure as Dr. Nasser as Chairman of the GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation board,” said Anne Bouverot, Director General, GSMA. “Qtel Group has demonstrated remarkable support of the Development Fund in the past, with particular leadership in advancing mWomen initiatives in Iraq and Indonesia and has demonstrated their commitment to leveraging their mobile networks to advance the broader good.”

Since its creation, the GSMA Development Fund has partnered with 35 mobile operators across a range of programmes, rolling out 53 services and positively impacting the lives of tens of millions of people across 30 countries. It has identified opportunities for social, economic and environmental impact and helped to stimulate the development of scalable, life-enhancing mobile services through programmes such as Community Power from Mobile, Green Power for Mobile, Mobile Money for the Unbanked (MMU) and mWomen. 

Since the MMU programme was founded, the industry has increased five-fold, with over 100 mobile money deployments active in the world today, 80 per cent of which are in developing markets. The Green Power for Mobile programme, through more than 24,000 live and planned base station deployments, will save over 422 million litres of diesel and 1.4 million tons of carbon emissions per year, while connecting 27 million rural inhabitants to the mobile network. The evolution of this programme, Community Power from Mobile, is providing energy access to remote villages, lighting homes and powering key services such as clinics and vaccine fridges.

The mWomen programme focuses on enabling women’s ownership and use of mobile technology to improve women’s access to health and education services, offer a greater sense of security and independence and increase economic opportunities and incomes.  The Development Fund has also been driving commercial mobile services in the key areas of health, agriculture and learning.



Notes to Editors:

The GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation

The GSMA Mobile for Development Foundation is a U.S. registered 501(c) (3) entity that works in concert with GSMA Mobile for Development to promote and implement partnerships between the mobile communications industry and the international development community to deliver life-enhancing services to underserved people in emerging markets.

Dr. Nasser’s bio:

Dr. Nasser Marafih is the Chief Executive Officer of the Qtel Group since 2006. He also served as Qtel Qatar CEO from 2002 until 2011. Born in Doha, Qatar, Dr. Marafih holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering, a Master of Science and a Ph.D in Communication Engineering, all from George Washington University, USA. Dr. Nasser started his career at Qtel in 1992 as expert advisor from the University of Qatar and was involved in the introduction of the first GSM service in the Middle East in February 1994. He joined Qtel in February 1994 as a Director for Strategic Planning & Development and led a number of strategic projects including the introduction of the Internet service in Qatar in 1996 and the privatization of Qtel from a government owned company to a publicly listed company in 1999. After his appointment as CEO in 2001, Dr. Nasser has spearheaded Qtel’s global growth in recent years to expand to 17 operations in Middle East and Asia, including Qtel’s acquisition of Wataniya Telecom, Qtel’s strategic partnership with ST Telemedia in Singapore, as well as the company’s purchase of a controlling stake in Indosat of Indonesia.

Dr. Marafih serves in as a board member in a number of companies including: Indosat (Indonesia), Starhub (Singapore), Wataniya (Kuwait), Asiacell (Iraq), Nedjma (Algeria), Tunisiana (Tunis), Wataniya (Palestine) and wi-tribe (Philippines). In addition, he is a member of the Boards of GSMA and SAMENA.

About the GSMA

The GSMA represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide. Spanning more than 220 countries and territories, the GSMA unites nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators with more than 230 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem , including handset makers, software companies, equipment providers and Internet companies, as well as organisations in industry sectors such as financial services, healthcare, media, transport and utilities. The GSMA also produces industry-leading events such as the Mobile World Congress and Mobile Asia Expo.

For more information, please visit the GSMA corporate website at or Mobile World Live, the online portal for the mobile communications industry, at

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