New Delhi: Telecom tycoon Sunil Bharti Mittal has been elected as chairman of GSM Association, or GSMA, that represents interests of mobile operators worldwide.

GSMA named a 26-member board to serve for two years beginning January 2017 and elected Mittal, founder and chairman, Bharti Enterprises, as chairman and re-elected Mari-Noelle Jego-Laveissiere, executive vice president, Innovation, Orange Group as deputy chairperson.

As GSMA chairman, Mittal will oversee the strategic direction of the organisation, which represents nearly 800 of the world’s mobile operators as well as more than 300 companies in the broader mobile ecosystem, a statement said.

“In a relatively brief period of time, mobile has had a transformational impact on individuals, business and societies, contributing significantly to local economies and improving the lives of billions around the world," Mittal said.

Mittal, the first Indian to be elected as chairman of the GSMA, led a delegation of its board members to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday. He said: “I am excited about what the next chapter holds for us, as we work to connect everyone and everything to a better future. In my new global role, I am also excited to support the ongoing mobile broadband revolution in India to boost the government’s Digital India programme and its vision of broadband access for all."

Mittal took over as chairman of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) early this year and also serves on the boards and councils of several reputed international bodies and think-tanks such as the World Economic Forum (WEF), Telecom Board of International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Broadband Commission and Harvard University’s Global Advisory Council. He is also a trustee of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and on the board of Qatar Foundation Endowment.

Bharti Airtel was the host of the inaugural GSMA Mobile 360-India event in New Delhi this week as well as a meeting of the GSMA board.

“In a broad-ranging discussion, the meeting (with the Prime Minister) highlighted the pivotal role of mobile in delivering the government’s Digital India vision of broadband as a utility for every citizen, bringing digital and financial inclusion to every corner of the country," the statement added.

The GSMA Board has 26 members, including 25 operator representatives from the world’s largest operator groups as well as smaller, independent operators with global representation.

GSMA chairman Jon Fredrik Baksaas will step down from the board at the end of 2016 after holding this position for the past three years. Baksaas was elected as a member of the GSMA board in 2008.

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