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Strategy sought to unify ‘fragmented efforts’ in local app industry

By Mohammad Ghazal - Jan 14,2014 - Last updated at Jan 14,2014

AMMAN — Telecom companies, app developers, software and mobile firms, and stakeholders in the ICT sector will soon launch a strategy to increase Jordan’s presence in the app industry, estimated to account for $100 billion in trading this year.

The strategy, to be announced in February, will detail a series of activities that all stakeholders will work on to “unify fragmented efforts” so as to make the local app industry mature, Nour Khrais, chairman of the Jordan Gaming Task Force, told The Jordan Times.

Khrais made the remarks following a workshop on Tuesday that attracted representatives of telecoms, app development firms, software companies, mobile manufacturers and IT experts.

“All participants at today’s event agreed to jointly work on a project to develop an application that addresses the needs of Jordanians,” he said.

“The application might address some of the environmental or traffic problems Amman is facing. This will be the start of cooperation among all stakeholders to boost the industry and unify efforts to develop it,” Khrais added.

The Gaming Lab and Umniah, in cooperation with AppCircus, a platform for showcasing the latest innovations for mobile phone apps through online challenges and road shows, organised Tuesday’s event.

At a later stage, stakeholders will work together on creating a platform called “Apps 4 Amman”, where several apps related to tourist attractions, restaurants, traffic guides, cinemas, hospitals, entertainment facilities and other utilities, will be posted online.

“We all need to work together to create an ecosystem that boosts the app industry in Jordan. The potential for business is huge as this year alone trading in this industry is expected to reach $100 billion,” Carles Ferreiro, co-founder and CEO of dotopen, said.

“The size of the app industry is becoming closer to the size of the movie industry, and by unifying efforts… this industry can help create jobs,” Ferreiro said during the workshop.

dotopen is an open innovation company that facilitates the development of innovation ecosystems.

During the workshop, participants highlighted several challenges facing the industry.

Abdul Malek Al Jaber, the founder and CEO of MENA Apps and chairman and CEO of Middle East Payment Services, said offering proper incubation programmes and providing incentives to young developers, as well as following up on their work through mentorship, are fundamental to the growth of the local app industry.

Stressing the need for the constant development of telecom networks to boost the app industry, Umniah CEO Ihab Hinnawi said the rise in demand for apps requires telecom operators to invest more in their networks.

He said that the absence of collaboration among players in the industry represents a main obstacle towards moving forward.

One of the challenges facing the industry is the lack of clearly defined laws to govern it and create a proper ecosystem to help it flourish, Zain Jordan CEO Ahmad Hanandeh noted at the workshop.

Others highlighted the lack of trust among Jordanians in online payments as an obstacle hindering the app industry’s growth.

“Internet transactions and paying online for apps, for example, is an issue in Jordan. People do not trust online payments and this is relevant also to the entire Arab region,” Abed Shamlawi, CEO of the ICT Association of Jordan, said during the event.

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