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Interface : The ICT ministry ... what's next?

Last month on 7 April, 2002, the Ministry of Post and Communications was officially renamed becoming the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT).

JORDAN (Star) - Last month on 7 April, 2002, the Ministry of Post and Communications was officially renamed becoming the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT). This change of name is the culmination of several years of hard work to develop the structure of the ministry, and upgrade its staff's skills, to accommodate the needs of Jordan's pioneering Information Technology and telecommunications programs.

The reform program that has been in the works since 1999 is rather massive, including every facet of ICT you would expect to see in a modern society.

Starting with a comprehensive e-government program, through the process of managing the restructuring of the telecommunications sectors-privatizing most of it-- to actively promoting the Kingdom's credentials as an IT center; the ministry as a whole and its very persistent minister are at the center of all this change.

Our e-minister, Dr Fawaz Zu'bi the first in the region to officially be accorded such a title, is commended for his drive and success in building a team of professionals around him whose skills would have never been available to a government ministry in the past; but are being utilized today owing to a very progressive approach of compensation for top caliber people that is being replicated in other ministries and government institutions that also need a complete face-lift.

According to official statements from the ministry, its new ministry's mandate is to set Jordan's ICT policy and strategy plan for the information technology, telecommunications and postal sectors, while stimulating local/foreign technology investments as well as promoting awareness and adoption of information and communications technologies by all segments of the population, in an all-inclusive approach.

So, policy making features high on the ministry's task list; which is the right approach in a free-market economy whereby you would depend on private companies to fulfill this vision by providing the proper competitive environment, infrastructure and general government support with minimal intervention. Regulation of the telecommunications sector will remain a responsibility of the Telecommunication Regulatory Committee (TRC), which is an autonomous body.

Besides, the ministry will have its hands full with its direct task of e-government application, as that is a purely governmental issue. That track of the ministries responsibilities has already progressed fairly well.

The minister spelt it out clearly, saying that "This is going to be a primary objective of the ministry. We will be working to create a cutting-edge government organization that will move away from the classical approach and become a very transparent, efficiently managed entity."

Currently, the ministry is focusing on "driving broad awareness and adoption of the need for technology in education through its strategic alliances with the public education sector."

It's an ambitious program to provide broadband connectivity to all schools and educational institutions. Very ambitious, and very costly. When and how much it will cost are matters that have not been settled yet, but taking some steps in that direction, as a start, would resemble a leap into the future for Jordan's students.

The Ministry of ICT will be launching its new corporate identity soon at an official launch event. According to ministry sources, "the new identity of the ministry will reflect the dynamic role it will play."

Sounds good, and everything we have seen so far proves that there's so much more in store than just a change of name.


Amman,04May2002
Zeid Nasser
The Star


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