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Sun 11 Feb 2001 04:00 AM

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Jordan wants to become high-tech powerhouse

The rollout of high-speed DSL services is just the latest step in Jordan's bid to become a technology and New Economy powerhouse

Dr Fawaz Zu’bi, Jordan’s charismatic Minister of Post & Communication has set out an ambitious vision for his country’s economic future.

Looking one year ahead, he foresees Jordan as a country where the free market is taking hold, the barriers that hold businesses back are being broken down and high-tech startups are springing up all over the country, creating jobs and long term prosperity. Zu’bi envisions affordable high-speed communications as the norm, an independent telecomms regulator that ensures a fair deal for operators and customers, and Jordan’s ministries well on the way to putting their services online.

“We, as the government of Jordan, are committed to this path and urge all of our partners to take advantage of the opportunities we are working hard to create,” says Zu’bi. “Let us look back… and say it was not a dream.”

More specifically, Jordan’s government aims for foreign investment in the technology sector to total $150 million between 2000 and 2004. Around $57.5 million was invested in 2000. The government also aims to create 30,000 jobs in and around the technology sector in the same period.

Zu’bi set out his vision for Jordan at Convergence 2001, a conference held to demonstrate Jordan Telecom’s success to date in overhauling its telecommunications infrastructure. The conference was attended by His Majesty King Abdullah II and Michel Bon, the CEO of France Telecom, an investor in Jordan Telecom.

Convergence 2001 saw the formal launch of DSL services for business and home users. DSL gives high-speed access to the Internet at speeds superior to existing ISDN services.

King Abdullah has told Jordan Telecom in no uncertain terms that its services must enable and not inhibit Jordan's businesses.

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