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int@j – moving Jordan to the new economy

: Saturday, September 29 - 2001 @ 09:41

Dubai, UAE
For the first time ever at Gitex Dubai, int@j – the Information Technology Association of Jordan, is showcasing the best information technology the country has to offer.

int@j represents not only the strength of the burgeoning IT infrastructure, but also the strength of a partnership between the public and private sector – int@j is one of only a few global organisations that have successfully combined the needs of the private sector with those of government.

Jordan’s IT industry is set to boom over the next five years, with a world-beating nationwide high speed Internet connection, an IT infrastructure scheme, foreign investment plans and employment schemes based around making the most of a highly qualified, keen and youthful labour pool.

int@j focuses on the software and IT services sector in particular since this sector comprises one of the most dynamic and fast growing parts of the IT industry in Jordan due to:

Low start up capital requirements

Jordan’s favourable position in the regional market

The intensity, cost and expertise of local human resources

A lack of transportation and distance constraints

The Jordanian government and int@j have a strong commitment to establish Jordan as a key regional IT player, providing an ideal business environment with an advanced technology infrastructure, flexible government participation and a strong labour market for large companies wishing to establish regional business units in the country.

Ultimately, such a commitment will lead to a cycle of prosperity based around high employment, and a well educated, well paid, happier workforce.

int@j’s plan involves the whole nation – and the whole nation is enthused by the prospects the strategy will bring.

int@j’s strategy is not just ‘hot air’. The association was conceived as part of the Jordanian REACH* initiative, which, two years into its five year plan, thanks in part to int@j, has seen:

IT-related employment double

Annual exports grow to an estimated US$40million (a growth rate of 349%),

More than US$50million in Foreign Direct Investment

To establish greater awareness of this impressively rapid development, both domestically and internationally, int@j is taking part in Gitex.

Karim Kawar, himself a veteran of the Jordanian IT industry, as chairman of Jordanian IT company IdealSoft, is also Chairman of int@j.

The Chairman said: "We are implementing His Majesty’s vision. It’s a private sector initiative that will benefit all. The IT industry will benefit and the whole nation will benefit, with His Majesty’s backing.

“In order to create a best-of-breed environment for the IT industry, int@j looked at plans in other nascent IT economies like Ireland, India and Singapore, for example.

“As a result of this research, Jordan has developed its own clear model of how its IT industry should develop – a model that focuses on the strengths of Jordan.

“And rather than set impossible deadlines or vague goalposts, int@j has set up a progress unit, to ensure deadlines are met, and progress is kept on track.” This unit is called the REACH Progress Unit.

A key part of the development is education: Jordan has a growing, youthful population, keen to learn about IT; and keen to work in the industry in Jordan.

Building Internet usage, IT awareness and a viable infrastructure all takes time, however, and int@j is aware of the need for ‘less haste, more speed.’

"The people have shown enormous will and spirit in backing this initiative. Our task [as int@j] is to synergise between King, government, and the freedom and openness of an accessible regulatory framework,” said Kawar.

Jordan’s move to the ‘e-economy’ is underpinned by a new, high-speed ADSL network that gives access to ‘constantly on’ high-speed Internet links – a key resource in the nation’s movement forwards as a regional technology hub and investment centre.
The infrastructure, built by Jordan Telecom, Cisco and Alcatel, is a high-speed network that beats global standards for fast access to the Web.

Specified during the Dead Sea Forum consultative event held in Jordan in March 2000, the new national network was built as the keystone in the country’s move to an IT future and is a fully redundant high-speed national network built around ATM and ADSL technologies to give 64Kb to 7Mbit access to customers, including true 1Mbit domestic ADSL access.

Meanwhile, plans are well underway to create rules and regulations (in the form of legislation) to ensure safe and secure Internet and IT usage; foreign investors are being invited to visit on fact finding missions; and with the building of a more solid IT infrastructure will come greater GDP, set to have a knock-on effect throughout all levels of society. int@j is currently advocating 27 pieces of legislations that will affect the ICT sector tremendously in terms of providing a very business-friendly environment, and trade friendly laws. A significant number of those has already been passed, some are in current discussions, and more will follow in the coming few months.


*The REACH initiative

In July 1999, His Majesty King Abdullah II laid down a visionary challenge for the private sector: prioritise the development of Jordan’s IT sector.

In response, a core group of Jordanian IT industry players (backed by the AMIR programme – Access to Microfinance & Improved Implementation of Policy Reform – United States Agency for International Development) devised a strategy and action plan, known as the REACH initiative, achieved by intensive consultation with domestic IT industry leaders and domestic and international consultants.

The comprehensive framework embraces action in terms of:

Regulatory framework
Enabling environment and infrastructure
Advancement Programmes
Human Resources Development

REACH, therefore, is a national strategy for Jordan to develop a vibrant, export-orientated IT services sector; paving the way for Jordan to become a regional leader and internationally recognised exporter of IT products and services.

It has a five year plan, based upon realistic assumptions, to generate:

30,000 IT and IT-related jobs by 2004
US$550 million in exports by 2004
US$150 million in cumulative foreign direct investment by 2004

Since the launch of the REACH initiative, IT-related employment has more than doubled, annual exports have grown to an estimated US$40million (a growth rate of 349% since the launch of REACH), and more than one third (1/3) of the Foreign Direct Investment target has been attracted to Jordan.

The history of int@j

int@j came about as a response to the implementation of the REACH initiative, in that the strategy is to be led by the private sector, in partnership with Government. The mission of int@j (the Information Technology Association of Jordan), a voluntary non-profit, private organization is to effectively represent, promote, and advance the Jordanian software and IT services industry in the global market.

The IT Association is the focal point for all Jordanian IT industry-related activities. The Association is open to all value added IT related, software development and support enterprises. It proposes to fulfill its mission through the following objectives:

Advocate industry issues
Represent IT industry interests and lobby with government and international groups; propose national initiatives and conduct public relations efforts.

Promote industry investment opportunities in Jordan
Promote Venture Capital (VC) and Initial Public Offerings (IPOs); form relationships with local export-oriented groups

Represent the industry at conferences and trade shows
Set up databases and publicise membership through websites, newsletters, hyperlinks, promotional materials and advertising.

Provide industry research and market information
Conduct market studies; disseminate local, regional and international opportunities; provide market trends.

Effect standardisation, certification and quality control in the IT industry

Promote certification bodies and their value addition; enforce an IT industry code of ethics; standardise employment contracts and benefit packages.

Support human resource development
Work with educational institutions to focus on critical skills; strengthen ties with local universities and collaborate with overseas universities; and initiate industry programs to benefit university students.

Advance industry intellectual property rights
Certify IPR compliance; update members in IPR law changes; and work towards local IPR regulations conducive to IT industry growth.

Form international IT industry alliances
Actively seek alliances with global players; develop and attract venture capital funds; and disseminate success stories.

Manage industry stakeholder relations and resolve industry conflicts
Build and reinforce bridges among association Members; and between association Members and government, media, universities, NGOs and donors.

Membership Benefits:

int@j is a voice that can officially advocate private sector IT business issues and concerns on local and global levels.

int@j effectively places its Members in the overall picture of what is changing in the Jordanian IT industry.

int@j explores new grounds for global business opportunities and captures substantial business deals worldwide.

int@j opens wide channels for meeting with incoming foreign delegations, in addition to being included in Jordanian official delegations representing the sector internationally.

int@j gives its Members the priority to be actively involved in all IT sector functions and events.

int@j markets your services and image, both locally and internationally.

int@j is going to be a reliable database provider for the local market by conducting market research and providing market trends.

int@j will be the body to get you certified and accredited as MADE IN JORDAN.

For further information:
Hania Tabet
Bain Euro RSCG, Dubai
Tel: (9714) 3355696

int@j contact:
Jumana Abu-Hannoud
PR & Communications Manager, Amman
Tel: (+962-6) 515 2322

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Saturday, September 29- 2001 @ 9:41 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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