usaid’s sabeq program and jordan’s knowledge stations commit to expanding the role of knowledge stations across jordan
In an act to solidify their commitment to the development and sustainability of the ICT sector in Jordan, USAID, through the Sustainable Achievement of Business Expansion and Quality Program (SABEQ), and the Knowledge Stations signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) today. The MOU was signed by the USAID-funded SABEQ Chief of Party, Rodrigo Ortiz and H. E. Dr. Khaled Toukan, Head of Royal Committee and witnessed by the USAID Deputy Mission Director, Dana Mansouri. and Dr. Haider Fraihat, General Director, National Information Technology Center
The MOU states specifics between the parties to assist the Knowledge Stations with plans to improve the functions of the stations, with the primary objectives of improving their utility to citizens and increasing revenue generation opportunities to become more self-sufficient where possible. USAID, through SABEQ, will support Knowledge Stations management and other Government stakeholders in analyzing current business outcomes to devise a strategy and action plan for “3rd Generation” Knowledge Stations program that will achieve these goals. The primary driver for 3rd Generation Knowledge Stations program is believed to be in the form of delivering new services to the citizens of Jordan, who are the foundation for this new technological era. These services should directly and indirectly play an effective role in ensuring higher citizen productivity as well as satisfaction.
In speeches presented by the various speakers, USAID Deputy Mission Director, Mansouri highlighted the important role the IT sector plays in connecting Jordan within its borders and with the world. Mansouri noted “There is a gap in the advancements and usage of ICT between Amman and the rural areas,” Mansouri emphasized that the Knowledge Stations should be considered as one tool to bridge the digital divide and enhance local economic development, “Local economies can take full advantage of enhanced productivity and streamlined systems to increase their revenues and open doors to new markets.”
SABEQ-Knowledge Stations MOU – Page 2 of 2
H.E. Dr. Khaled Toukan, Head of the Royal Committee also stated that the new generation of Knowledge Stations will play an important role in evolving e-services and e-government, whereby citizen access to services will be easier, and more streamlined. “By creating hubs of access to services, citizens will no longer feel isolated from the opportunities and expertise available in the Amman, as those services will come to them.” Today, many public and private agencies do not have branch offices, and therefore citizens must travel to Amman to perform and/or to receive services in-person. Delivering services electronically through Knowledge Stations—e.g., applying for passports, receiving “life-event” certificates such as marriage, renewing driver licenses and vehicle registration, applying for Government jobs—can vastly improve the accessibility of services to citizens across the Kingdom. This can also improve customer service, reduce the cost of service delivery, and enhance the capacity of Jordanian citizens in the use of IT tools.
Dr. Haidar Fraihat, the Director General of the National Information Technology Center (NITC), which is the implementing agency for the Knowledge Stations, indicated that the evolution of the Knowledge Stations is in line with the National ICT Strategy. The strategy has defined its ambitious goal of increasing internet usage penetration among the Jordanian population to 50% within the next five years, with full recognition that part of this growth must be due to increased demand for internet use, where e-services can stimulate.
The initiative of establishing Knowledge Stations was launched in 2001. This initiative is intended to implement IT in local communities in remote areas in preparation for the E-government process. The National Information Technology Center (NITC) was mandated with the execution of the project after it conducted a study on the best practice in selecting the sites for the Knowledge Stations in the different governorates and local communities. As of December 2006, the various Knowledge Stations have trained a total of (85,634) people, [55.2% females, and 44.8% males], on basic computer literacy and other various advanced courses on how to utilize ICT towards enhancing their businesses, attaining health care information, participating in e-government, acquiring novel leadership and entrepreneurship qualities, and general awareness of the various social issues.
The USAID-funded Sustainable Achievement of Business Expansion and Quality (SABEQ) Program is a five year broad economic development initiative implemented by BearingPoint, Inc. and a sizeable team of international and Jordanian partner firms. By both supporting improvements in the business environment and providing assistance to expand innovation and productivity in Jordanian businesses, SABEQ’s four components all support the common objective of building up the private sector—Jordan’s companies, innovators and entrepreneurs—as a powerful engine of economic growth.