Jordan’s Information Technology Association-Jordan (int@j) held a meeting on Thursday to present its 2003 work plan to Fawaz Zu’bi, Minister of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT).
The aim of the meeting was to clarify int@j’s role for the year 2003 in promoting the sector through its various committees’ goals and reiterate its objectives as an organization set to effectively represent, promote and advance the Jordanian ICT industry within the local, regional and global markets. MoICT aims at establishing areas of cooperation between the public and private sector, and build on the Public/private partnership.
Marwan Juma, chairman of int@j, kicked off the meeting by welcoming Zu’bi and all the MoICT team and stressed the importance of their involvement with int@j’s proposed 2003 work plan. “We need to make sure that we are speaking the same language so we can work hand in hand in promoting the ICT industry,” said Juma who then gave a brief overview about the organization’s mission, objectives, organizational structure, and funding process.
Beginning with the Advocacy Committee, Humam Mufti briefed the attendees about the pressing issues that will be tackled during 2003. In addition to planning the third review process of the REACH initiative (REACH 4.0) during the summer, this committee will focus its efforts on problems the sector is facing with government ICT tenders.
Local companies are in many cases not granted the same rights as foreign competitors, and many tenders restrict final products/ services to certain technologies and brand names. “We are more than confident in our own capabilities and welcome foreign competition. However, we do ask to be given the same privileges in order to offer competitive proposals within our own market,” concluded Mr. Mufti his committee’s presentation.
In the Capital & Finance Committee presentation, Nashat Masri discussed efforts to launch an innovative venture capital fund targeting small and medium-sized entities (SMEs). The fund concept was initially proposed as part of the REACH 3.0 process and is designed to fill the existing gap in the availability of financing for SMEs.
“Larger firms have access to sources of funding if they can present good business ideas. It is the smaller firms that are in need of a source of capital dedicated to them. This fund is designed for these smaller firms,” said Masri. The committee is also working on an “ICT Challenge” that would bring together entrepreneurs and investors. The Challenge will be done in cooperation with the Young Entrepreneurs Association.
Bashar Arafeh started the Data Communications Committee’s presentation by confirming the team’s commitment to increasing PC and Internet penetration in Jordan, a prerequisite fundamental to the ongoing growth of the sector. “We realize that toll charges can not be eliminated, but further reductions should definitely be implemented to encourage more and more Jordanians to go online,” said Bashar.
Creative loan schemes need also be developed and implemented to provide citizens with a mechanism to finance PCs over long-term loans that do not require substantial collaterals. “We are not saying that the models implemented by other countries are ideal, but they certainly provide us with a launch-pad to learn from and improve,” concluded Arafeh this topic. In support of the business community, the Data Communications Committee will continue lobbying for affordable broad-band connectivity, which however will be substantiated with detailed research and analysis.
Hatem Zeine presented the e-Business Committee’s programs of work by emphasizing the importance of promoting electronic commerce to all other sectors in Jordan, thus facilitating true global trade opportunities. In addition to advocating for practical regulations needed to support the Kingdom’s e-commerce and e-signature laws, the committee will brand and launch a bi-annual international e-Business conference scheduled for September 2003.
This venue will alternate with the bi-annual Jordan ICT Forum and provide valuable information on latest cutting-edge-technologies and concept. “int@j hosted its first e-Business event in May 2001, featuring over 36 world-renowned experts and leaders in this field. The coming events will be based on the successful Jordan ICT Forum model and promote Jordan further throughout the region and the rest of the world,” Zeine concluded his presentation.
Fawaz stated that the government is willing to provide support where and when needed, provided that each of the projects and issues raised have been well researched, and appropriate preparations have been made. In closing, Fawaz stressed the importance of the monthly Power Breakfast meetings held by int@j.
“I want to see more of these networking meetings that are bringing the ICT companies together,” said Zu’bi stressing that int@j should take a major lead in promoting such events to induce interaction within the sector. — (menareport.com)
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