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French Version

Jordan's ICT sector bucks slowdown - The positive vibes

It's refreshing to see an economic sector in this country in which almost all individuals are enthusiastic about the business growth outlook. The information technology industry in Jordan was quite 'bullish' throughout the years 1999 till 200...

It's refreshing to see an economic sector in this country in which almost all individuals are enthusiastic about the business growth outlook. The information technology industry in Jordan was quite 'bullish' throughout the years 1999 till 2001, and although it's slowed down somewhat this year the companies and individuals in IT refuse to idly sit and wait for things to get better. They work hard to open new markets, create new uses for hardware and software and basically insist on generating business. This attitude and drive prove that Jordan's bet on information technology is the right one. The fact that telecommunications are booming also 'feeds' the IT industry as they are closely related.
The dynamism of IT business in Jordan manifests itself in the numerous merges, business direction changes and general adjustments the sector has carried out rather smoothly over the past couple of years.

An example that stands out is the newly formed software powerhouse, Estarta, which was created by the merge of the countries two most prominent software development firms Zeine and One World, with Microsoft coming in as a supporting partner to bless this marriage. Once they were fierce competitors, both trying to attract Jordan's best programmers. Today, they are one. On the other hand, the rise of several promising software firms in a short time span is a sign of abundant skills. Firms like Eskadenia Software, FACT, MidStrata and others have emerged to cater to the country's, and region's, growing software needs.

These players add their efforts to a vibrant software industry, that has seen the more traditional firms of the past decades come back with integrated solutions. Companies like CEB, JDS and CCS have literally re-invented their software offering and are now as a dynamic as the new software players, but are so much larger. Simply, the whole picture looks promising with the typical obstacles being transcended gradually. Most of these firms target clients from abroad, which allows them to overcome the obstacle of Jordan's limited and small market.

The need to constantly upgrade skill levels and the shortage in programmers is being tackled by professional training organizations, coupled with a considerable increase in the numbers of new graduates in computer related sciences. What's more, the trend to obtain a professional networking or programming course certificate every year has caught on! The previous lack of support for software exporters is being addressed with legal amendments and private sector lobbying through associations like Int@j.

Int@j has done an excellent job in facilitating virtually every positive effort in Jordan's ICT industries, especially software. Every Int@j event is like a celebration of new achievements, mostly by the private sector as the governmental institutions involved in Jordan's ICT initiatives slowly, but surely, start heading in the right direction.

The lofty goals set by the Reach Initiative, now into its third year, include the creation of 30,000 IT-related jobs by 2004. Achieving $550 million in annual technology exports by 2004 and, last but not least, attracting $150 million in cumulative Foreign Direct Investment by the same year, 2004. These goals were set in 1999 and there should be enough ups and downs in the next couple of years to take us close to those figures.

If sheer hard work and positive attitude count for anything, our software industry will contribute more than it fair share of towards achieving those goals.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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