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Balancing Tech Growth: A Playbook for Jordan

Jun 14,2024 - Last updated at Jun 14,2024

Jordan’s burgeoning tech scene stands at a crossroads. With the potential to become a pillar of a developed economy. Hence, the nation should navigate a critical path — fostering innovation while safeguarding user trust. This journey doesn’t lie in blindly following the breakneck pace of the US system or the cautious approach of the EU. Instead, Jordan needs a strategic hybrid, drawing upon the strengths of both.

The allure of the US system, with its minimal government intervention, is undeniable. This environment has fuelled the explosive growth of Silicon Valley giants, and Jordanian startups could potentially benefit from similar freedom to experiment and adapt rapidly. However, unfettered innovation can come at a cost. Consumers may be left vulnerable to data breaches, privacy violations, and unfair competition. In a globalised digital landscape, trust is paramount for attracting users and investors.

The EU, on the other hand, emphasises user well-being through stricter regulations focused on consumer protection and data privacy. This could build trust in Jordanian tech companies, making them globally attractive partners. Additionally, the EU’s emphasis on R&D funding could be a crucial resource to fuel homegrown innovation. However, a rigid regulatory framework can stifle the rapid iteration vital for early-stage startups. Navigating complex regulations can be expensive, hindering the growth of young Jordanian companies.

Encourage experimentation within a framework of clear data privacy and consumer protection laws. This fosters trust and creates a stable environment for long-term growth. Here, Jordan can learn from economies like Singapore, which have struck a balance between innovation and regulation. Singapore has attracted tech giants while nurturing a local startup ecosystem. They achieved this by fostering a culture of innovation within a framework of clear and consistent regulations.

Focus resources on R&D in key areas relevant to the future of technology, giving Jordanian tech a competitive edge. Look towards South Korea, which has successfully leveraged government support to cultivate world-leading tech companies like Samsung and LG. By investing in areas like Artificial Intelligence (AI), cybersecurity and blockchain technology, Jordan can position its tech sector for the future. This support could come in the form of tax breaks, grants, or the creation of innovation hubs focused on specific technologies.

Implement a regulatory structure that evolves alongside the sector, allowing flexibility for startups while ensuring responsible practices as the industry matures. India, a booming tech hub, exemplifies this approach. Its regulatory framework allows startups to flourish in the early stages, focusing on attracting talent and fostering innovation. As companies mature, stricter oversight is implemented to ensure consumer protection and responsible data practices. This allows Jordan to attract ambitious young companies without sacrificing user security down the line.

A successful tech sector relies on a skilled workforce equipped to handle the ever-evolving demands of the digital age. This requires significant investment in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education at all levels. Jordan can learn from countries like India, which have focused on creating a talent pool through university collaborations, industry partnerships, and online learning platforms. Investing in STEM education will prepare young Jordanians for the jobs of tomorrow and ensure the long-term sustainability of the tech sector.

Jordan’s tech sector presents a golden opportunity for the nation’s economic development. By adopting a strategic approach that fosters innovation while ensuring user trust, Jordan can establish itself as a regional tech leader. The journey will require collaboration between the government, the private sector, and educational institutions. By embracing a culture of innovation, investing in its workforce, and fostering international partnerships, Jordan can transform its tech scene into a powerful engine for a prosperous future. This future holds the potential to create high-paying jobs, attract foreign investment, and propel Jordan towards a developed economy. The time to act is now.

Hamza Alakaleek is a corporate lawyer and tax attorney

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