By David Ingham
Jordan has set ambitious growth targets for its IT sector and September's Jordan IT Forum will be a big opportunity for the industry to schmooze with potential investors.
Jordan will be looking to impress international investors at this year’s Jordan IT Forum, set to take place in Amman, September 30 - October 1. The event is a crucial one for Jordan, which has publicly declared its aim to become a major force in information technology.Int@j, a joint government/private sector body that advises on how to develop the ICT sector, has set ambitious targets for the industry. Between 2000 and 2004, the body aims to have helped create 30,000 direct and indirect jobs in the sector; to have helped attract $150 million in foreign investment; and to have driven annual exports of ICT-related products and services towards the $550 million mark. Marwan Juma, chairman of int@j, admits that the targets were deliberately ambitious. “…In terms of the first figure, the annual exports [of $550M annually], …I don’t think we’re close to that figure in all honesty. We have a long ways to go. I’ve got figures ranging from as low as $40 million, up to $100 million,” he says.“In terms of FDI, we’ve got $65 million of the $150 million, so we’re almost half way there and we expect to meet that figure. In terms of employment, today the employment is between 8-10,000. Target is 30,000 in the sector, so we’re about 35% of the way there, a little bit behind. “However, we’re moving. We have gone in leaps and bounds in comparison to 1999’s figures. It’s important to raise the bar and try to achieve the figures,” Juma continues.That’s exactly what the ICT Forum is designed to help achieve. Jordanian representatives will offer around 1,000 global participants an insight into Int@j’s REACH initiative, which aims to provide a foundation for the country's ICT development strategy. International investors and local entrepreneurs will also be able to exchange ideas and business cards.“The Jordan ICT Forum provides an opportunity for local and international ICT stakeholders to assess the Kingdom’s strategy in creating a sustainable environment that encourages investment and business development,” says Emile Cubeisy, director of ICT promotion, Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT). “The Jordan ICT Forum also facilitates access to the local information technology industry -- an industry that is positioned to cater to regional and international market needs while building a solid local industry that can support the national economy.”