July 16, 2000, 08:48 AM
- With a population of five million and an economy gradually moving toward globalization, many are still skeptical of Jordan’s chances of becoming an Internet Technology hub within the next decade. However, economists argue that the Kingdom maybe ready to implement an IT infrastructure.
Karim Kawar, Chairman of the Information Technology Association in Jordan (INTAJ), believes IT industry in Jordan has shown significant potential in becoming a competitor. "The main objective of our plan is to create an advanced knowledge-based economy that has the potential benefits to compete successfully in the world economy," said Kawar at the launching ceremony of Reach 2.0 initiative on 12 July at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.
The initiative is the second and current phase of a national strategy to develop and expand the IT sector in Jordan. Kawar believes that IT industry is vibrant and dedicated to becoming an export-oriented sector.
The first part of the initiative was launched in July 1999, in response to King Abdallah’s proposal to develop the IT sector in Jordan.
Reach 2.0 Initiative proposes strategies for investment, education and training, infrastructure development and regulation to accelerate growth in the IT sector.
The initiative hopes to create 30,000 new hi-tech jobs and increase IT exports to an estimate of $55 million per year. Foreign investment, meanwhile, is expected to witness a rapid burst of growth aimed at $150 million within the coming four years.
The ceremony, which included over 120 public and private sector representatives, was attended by Minister of Post and Telecommunications Fawaz Al Zu’bi, and Director of the Economic Department at the Royal Court Bassem Awadallah.
The officials agreed it is vital for that educational institutions to embrace IT and computer literacy. "We have to be sure that our students in schools and graduates at the universities are eligible enough to meet Jordan’s needs of skilled and well-informed workforce," Awadallah told participants.
Al Zu’bi reiterated the government’s support to remove all obstacles that hinder Reach 2.0’s objectives in the fields of economy, culture and society.
Kawar says that INTAJ aims to create an effective infrastructure making IT services accessible to all. “We are determined to make schools in remote areas, in south and north Jordan, work as community service centers to help Jordanians learn and use IT services as easy as possible,” said Kawar, who has headed INTAJ since its establishment last March.
The mission of INTAJ is to represent, promote and advance Jordanian software and IT industry worldwide. Kawar said that INTAJ is dedicated to fulfilling its mission through advocating interests of IT industry, promoting IT investment opportunities, conducting studies and research on market trends and opportunities for Jordan’s IT and enforcing an IT industry code of ethics that regulate standardize employment contracts and benefit packages.
"The association supports the development of human resources through strengthening its ties and contacts with local universities and to collaborate with overseas universities," he explained.
Kawar pointed out during the ceremony that INTAJ will hold several workshops and review sessions, starting on 24 July, to assess the latest developments in mobilizing local, regional and international investments and funding for the IT industry in Jordan.
Awadallah went on to say that King Abdallah’s vision to turn Jordan into an IT hub can only be accomplished if all concerned parties work together.
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