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ICT sector’s growth reflection of policies over past 20 years — stakeholders

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Jun 08,2019 - Last updated at Jun 08,2019

His Majesty King Abdullah meets with Jordanian entrepreneurs at the Dead Sea in April earlier this year to stress the importance of supporting business incubators and entrepreneurship (Photo courtesy of the Royal Court)

AMMAN — His Majesty King Abdullah has given the information and communication technology (ICT) sector great care and focus over the past 20 years to help companies and workers grow and develop, Int@j CEO Nidal Bitar said.

Bitar highlighted King Abdullah’s support to the sector in a recent e-mail sent to The Jordan Times.

Since His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne, the ICT sector has been granted incentives and exemptions, including a 15 per cent reduction in income tax, and a zero per cent sales tax on exports, according to Bitar.

The ICT sector’s revenue has jumped from JD210 million in 2003, to more than JD480 million in 2017, Bitar said, adding that the sector’s exports also increased in value from JD48 million, to more than JD189 million during the same period.

The number of ICT employees and workers also rose from 8,117 in 2003, to 17,672 in 2017.

Int@j’s CEO stressed that King Abdullah’s efforts to increase the number of business incubators and accelerators in the Kingdom also led to Jordan’s rise on the Global Entrepreneurship Index. Jordan now ranks 49th on the index and contains more than 25 business incubators, accelerators and creative centres.

Last year saw the creation of the Innovative Start-ups and SMEs Fund, as well as the Venture Capital Law, both of which aim to support small enterprises and encourage innovation.

Since His Majesty’s Accession, a “Financial Culture” course has been integrated into all Jordanian schools. The course aims to encourage students to pursue entrepreneurship.

Jordanian corporations have also hoisted flags at various international platforms, including the Mobile World Congress in Shanghai and Barcelona and the San Francisco games development conference.

In May, an Int@j statement noted that females now occupy 21 per cent of leadership positions in the ICT sector. The statement added that 27.6 per cent of software developers are female, and women occupy 13.2 per cent and 12.3 per cent of jobs in technical support and network systems respectively.

In the mobile applications and gaming sectors, Jordan organised its first app challenge for students in 2008, according to the founder and CEO of Maysalward, Nour Khrais.

In an e-mail he sent to The Jordan Times, Khrais said that in early 2011, His Majesty issued directives to set up The App Challenge (TAC) to help prepare young Jordanians to be entrepreneurs and take part in the field.

Today, smartphones and app stores not only play a role in entertainment, but also in the medical, engineering and education fields, the CEO said, adding that TAC “gave the Jordanian gaming ecosystem a boost of strength and created hundreds of indie developers and several mobile gaming start-ups that are the biggest contributors of Arabic app content in the region”.

His Majesty also inaugurated the Jordan Gaming Lab in May 2011, which currently has branches in several governorates and over 8,000 members, Khrais said.

He added that the lab offers people state-of-the-art tools and access to major partners like Unity, Sony, Microsoft and others.

His Majesty also supported Oasis500, a business accelerator that helps start-ups find funding and support.

However, one of the ICT sector’s most recent achievements took place at the end of May, when the Crown Prince Foundation, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship and the UAE’s ministry of cabinet affairs and the future launched the “1 Million Jordanian Coders Initiative”.

The initiative aims to train 1 million young Jordanians in coding and computer programming techniques through free online courses, granting them accredited international certificates and equipping them with skills to enter the labour market.

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