Jordan

Interview with RA’ed A. Bilbessi

“Connecting Jordanians through MoICT is the achievable target”


How would you define e-content in Jordan?

E-content in Jordan means having information online (24/7) for different government and non-government entities and being able to use it.

The Technology used to make information available and usable is the dominating force that creates the need for e-content and facilitating processes. In Jordan, the government is working hard to provide Internet access to the public in schools and universities as well as connecting its agencies through different e-government projects. In practice, software solutions provided by private sector companies become e-Content engines once adopted by government agencies

“Language barrier is one of the problems inhibiting Internet growth in the region on a large scale”

Which area of e-content (e-health, e-biz, e-culture, e-government, e-entertainment, e-learning, e-science, and e-inclusion) is best developed in Jordan?

E-Learning is probably the most developed aspect of e-content in Jordan and we are proud of Jordanian “EduWave” winning the WSIS Award connecting Schools and Universities.

E-Government programs are well on their way towards achieving full electronic connectivity and a paperless office environment. Many ministries are already connected and have made their information available to the public. A lot more needs to be done to fully implement work digitally, among which, e-procurement law and regulations should come into effect.

E-Health is probably the next e-content that is on its way, with growing connectivity among different sectors relating to health such as medical doctors, pharmacies and insurance companies.

Which sector (business, private sector, government or civil society) in Jordan is advanced in developing e-content?

In my opinion, it’s the government. The business and private sector are doing tremendous work in developing e-content by producing quality products. But, the government, being the catalyst for change is working to achieve the vision of His Majesty King Abdullah II, of creating a knowledge-based economy.

International Agencies such as the United Nations Fund for Women (UNIFEM) have been active in promoting projects that reflect more equality and gender sensitive initiatives in the ICT Sector (e-Quality Project) and recently, projects focusing on development, such as e-Village.

The USAID AMIR Program has had a decisive influence in the past and is now working hard to develop portals that will help spread awareness and increase penetration.

How would you describe the gradual progress of development of e-content in Jordan?

October 1999 REACH Initiative is officially presented to H. M. King Abdulla
December 1999 Jordan joins World Trade Organization
January 2000 His Majesty King Abdullah heads delegation to WorldEconomic Forum in Davos.
March 2000 Jordan’s first IT Forum is hosted at the Dead Sea by His MajestKing Abdullah II
May 2000 int@j formed; E-Government Task Force formed
July 2000 Launch of REACH 2.0 is organized by int@j.
September 2000 Reach 2.0 process is completed, and recommendations are presented to His Majesty.
October 2000 int@j and ACI launch EBDA: an e-commerce training andawareness campaign.
December 2000 REACH Advisory Council (RAC) convenes first meeting
May 2001 First international E-Commerce Workshop in Jordan held by int@j.
August 2001 REACH Road Show, a national awareness campaign launched,concluded in December 2001
September 2001 Labor Law amended to protect Intellectual Property Rights.
October 2001 First Women in ICT Workshop held by int@j.
November 2001 MoICT and int@j hold “Business Meets Government: the Jordan e-Government Opportunities Workshop.”
February 2002 Amended Telecommunications Law passed creating theMinistry of Information and Communications Technology.
February 2002 ANERA establishes first ICT Center of Excellence for Training.
March 2002 Program Management Office established to manage E-Government initiative.
June 2002 REACH 3.0 launched and concluded in August
July 2002 Jordan Telecom Convergence 2002 showcases technology-based communications services.
August 2002 MoICT launches Arabic ICDL program for public sectoremployees.
September 2002 Intel i-Lab launched in University of Jordan King Abdullah II College for IT.
September 2002 Jordan ICT Forum 2 is held in Amman Under the Patronage of
December 2002 Open Source Software Workshop is held by int@j
February 2003 int@j holds event to launch Trado e-Commerce Platform
June 2003 int@j co-organizes Doing Business with Iraq Conference
June 2003 Jordan e-Initiative launched at the World Economic Forum – Extraordinary Meeting held at the Dead Sea, Jordan
October 2003 int@j holds e-Government Discussion event with local ICT Community
October 2003 REACH 4.0 launched and concluded in December
December 2003 int@j holds Business Automation Seminar Series
January 2004 int@j partner’s with EFE to Create Technical Post-Secondary School in Jordan
January 2004 int@j Chairman represents Jordanian ICT sector in WorldEconomic Forum – Davos, Switzerland
“Information is being shared by different entities and emails are becoming one of the main methods of communication

What major initiatives have influenced the development of e-content in Jordan?

No. Classification Name
1 National e-Initiatives Connecting Jordanians Initiative
1 National e-Initiatives e-Village Project
1 National e-Initiatives Jordan e-Government Initiative
1 National e-Initiatives Jordan e-Learning Initiative
1 National e-Initiatives The REACH Initiative
2 Access and Connectivity Canada Fund’s Internet Center
2 Access and Connectivity Jordan Post
2 Access and Connectivity Knowledge Station Initiative
3 Capacity Building RSS Computer Refurbishment Center
3 Capacity Building Achieving e-Quality
3 Capacity Building Ex-Servicemen Training
3 Capacity Building ICDL Literacy Program
3 Capacity Building Intel Teach to the Future
3 Capacity Building JT’s Educational Fund
3 Capacity Building NetCorps Jordan Program
3 Capacity Building Schools Online
4 ICT Industry int@j www.IT.jo
5 Entrepreneurship Get Connected UK Jordan
5 Entrepreneurship JU’s I-Lab
5 Entrepreneurship PSUT’s Jordan Connect
5 Entrepreneurship PSUT’s Sun Incubator
6 Global Reach UN ICT Task Force
7 e-Commerce EBDA’
8 Employment Al-Manar

What are the major bottlenecks in the path of e-content development in Jordan?

  • Internet Speed – Broad Band is still seen as expensive,
  • PC Penetration – with around 5% PC penetration
  • Level of English literacy… with most of the content and portals being in English, there is need for more Arabic material online.

In most countries, especially developing, e-content development is significantly dependent on ICT infrastructure and ICT facilities. But, in some, ICT has become pervasive and e-content development is primarily subjected to the initiatives of an individual/organization/government, etc. What is the situation in your country?

In Jordan e-Content is largely dependent on the following SIX strategic Thrusts of REACH initiative.

  • Regulatory Framework Strengthening REG
  • Enabling Environment (Infrastructure Development) INF
  • Advancement Programmes ITD
  • Capital and Finance CAP
  • Human Resource Development HRD
  • And Government Support. GOV

How would you describe the ICT scenario in Jordan in terms of infrastructure, penetration, and policies?

Infrastructure

More communication companies are coming in, more services are being offered. Information is being shared by different entities and emails are becoming one of the main methods of communication.

Penetration

More projects are being done to connect Jordanians with a view to increasing PC and Internet penetration. More government agencies are moving ahead with their e-Government projects and will soon make their information available and usable on the Net and through other wireless devices.

Acceptance

People’s acceptance of technology and content has been highly affected by the purchasing power. On the bright side, Jordanians pay a lot of attention to the education of their children and consider higher education a priority. It is then up to the educated youth to prioritize PCs and Internet connectivity in their day-to-day activities.

“E-Learning is probably the most developed aspect of e-content in Jordan and we are proud of Jordanian “EduWave” winning the WSIS Award connecting Schools and Universities

Policies

  • Government requires that all practical steps be taken to develop the IT sector so that it becomes an internationally competitive player. Steps taken should attract local and foreign private sector investment and yield high quality employment, export revenues and associated profitability.
  • Government requires that IT contribute to the means by which the nation’s human assets may be developed in educational and social terms.
  • Government requires that government entities should exploit IT to attain greater efficiency and openness in its dealings with citizens and businesses.
  • Government requires that all practical steps be taken to ensure that the general business community exploits IT to a level that enhances the efficiency and competitiveness of all of the industrial and service sectors of the economy.

Government continues, through MoICT, to shoulder its own responsibilities, under the Law, to act as a strategist, promoter, educator and facilitator for sectors within ICT.

Not least, government seeks to ‘practice what it preaches’ by striving for greater efficiency and openness through the application of IT, encompassing connectivity and common standards.

The fundamentals of Government policy will remain consistent in the coming years and will encompass the following goals and actions:

  • Government will work with national and international trade bodies, with the objective of removing any identified further impediments to the sector, meeting the government’s fundamental policy for its success. In this connection, government recognizes, amongst other factors, the shortfalls identified in the review of ‘e-Readiness’ within Jordan (Dated Oct 2002 and incorporated into REACH 3 .0). These shortfalls relate to connectivity, information security and the e-Business Climate. MoICT is actively exercising its powers over all sectors within ICT — powers that flow from the responsibilities that are placed upon it by Law to address the same.
  • Government will continue with its important role in promoting the interests of the sector and acting as a catalyst for action but it seeks that private enterprise and capital should drive the sector forward.
  • Government requires that open market principles should apply to the IT sector. Accordingly, Government requires that regulation not be applied, except in those exceptional circumstances where it can be objectively justified and, it lies within the regulatory jurisdiction of the TRC. Government considers that the Competition Law of 2002 provides adequate safeguards against anti-competitive activity within the sector at the present.
  • Government will move forward with the Connecting Jordanians Initiative and all similar projects that are key instruments in the implementation of policy. These initiatives typically contribute to educational reform and life-long learning, promote the development of ICT resources in disadvantaged areas and thus stimulate the overall IT sector. MoICT is obliged under the Law to ‘encourage the preparation of advanced programs of education and training in telecommunications and information technology, including the use of the Internet, electronic commerce, and electronic transactions’. MoICT will, accordingly, play a pivotal, enabling role in these initiatives, including the establishment of a private national broadband network that will connect educational establishments.
  • Government, acting through MoICT, will move forward with, and manage and lead, eGovernment related initiatives. These initiatives require government entities to achieve efficiencies and improve public services through the application of IT. Accordingly MoICT will specify and ensure the effective provision, management and maintenance of physical and logical IT resources, and, the best use of human and financial resources. In this connection MoICT will establish a National Information Technology Centre (NITC) under the direction of the Minister. For the procurement of ICT by Government, MoICT will issue enabling technical standards and specifications, where appropriate.
  • Government, through MoICT, will continue, in association with the private sector, to take steps that encourage the adoption of IT, e-Commerce, collaborative working, research and development and similar areas, within the general industrial and service sectors of the economy. MoICT will ensure that initiatives managed by it, should, to the extent that is feasible and practicable, and not in conflict with national interest or security considerations, be completed by, or outsourced to, the private sector.
  • In connection with eCommerce, Government is taking action to create a legal framework for: electronic transactions in Jordan, associated consumer protection, and, the discouragement of ‘cyber-crime’. NITC will administer, on behalf of Jordan, Internet related domain names associated with the .jo designation.
“Jordanians pay a lot of attention to the education of their children and consider higher education a priority”
  • Government recognises that in order to achieve digital inclusion for all citizens, government must undertake activities that are not economically viable for the private sector to complete in their entirety. In such circumstances, procurement processes will ensure that appropriate contributions are supplied by the private sector.
  • Government further recognises that in certain instances, it may, as a result of actions associated with implementation of policies that have been described, establish infrastructure and facilities that may have economic potential beyond their use by Government. Should government release capacity, sell infrastructure or in any other way realise value from its enabling investment, it will ensure that such action is effected in a transparent and non-discriminatory manner, in order that it should not unduly distort any markets or sectors within ICT.

What’s the future of e-content in your country?

In future, connecting Jordanians through MoICT is the achievable target. Currently, the main priority of the Connecting Jordanian Initiative is to ensure that access to computers and networks is readily available to all students in Jordan.

High-bandwidth access is crucial for achieving the goals of the CJI by providing the capacity for the current and projected needs of learning institutions. In this context, MoICT and the Ministries of Education, Higher Education, Planning, as well as other public agencies, are undertaking a detailed study to establish a broadband learning network. The government of Jordan is now preparing a business plan to determine the most efficient and cost-effective approach to implementing the broadband network.

Which is the most preferred medium for e-content production in your country?

Internet/Web

Because of connectivity and access to information around the globe, the Internet is seen as the best means for developing e-Content. Because for any portal to be developed it has to connect to information from different sources

Mobile/Wireless

Mobile and wireless technology is the next best thing because of the high penetration rate. Yet, the more complex and varied the content, the more expensive the devices.

Print

Despite the waste in this medium, it is still the most popular for advertising and still serves the purpose.

TV & Radio

Pure advertising… But costly!

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