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French Version

More 'EBDA', less 'Takhalof'

Every time I attend one of Jordan's ICT events, I'm quite impressed with the thought and effort that goes into such events.

JORDAN (Star) - Every time I attend one of Jordan's ICT events, like the EBDA Conference held this week, I'm quite impressed with the thought and effort that goes into such events. Every time I attend one of Jordan's ICT events, like the EBDA Conference held this week, I'm quite impressed with the thought and effort that goes into such events.

The presentations are always impressive, the speakers eloquent, the strategies being drawn up are quite comprehensive and the people behind the initiatives deserve utmost respect.

In short, our preparation looks great. Moving onto actual application, we've got a couple of problems.

For one thing, the people involved in applying, or facilitating the success of these initiatives are not even half as competent as the people who had the vision for the strategy.

The classic example is investment promotion, which is managed by a marvelous team at the Jordan Investment Board, who suffer every time they walk into any ministry because they deal with people whose mentality is completely different.

Also, the systems and procedures that govern the public sector are still highly complex, and long! Although the end result, after a few arguments and the intervention of a 'higher' or 'more understanding' official, creates the eventual desired result, this is not the proper way for Jordan to progress and attain the goals so elegantly drawn up in conferences and so unnecessarily hindered by ignorance, which, in Arabic, translates into the exact opposite of EBDA: 'Takhalof'.

Getting back to the EBDA Conference, it marked the completion of a successful joint initiative between the European Commission and the Amman Chamber of Industry to advance the understanding and utilization of e-commerce in Jordanian business.

The idea is to educate a select number of people, who later become e-trainers and teach their knowledge to up to 2500 others. The idea is to also educate small and medium sized businesses on the leverage the Internet and e-commerce can offer in growing their businesses and how the dynamics of the new economy favor small countries and small companies; enabling them to compete with larger business groups. As one of the speakers stated, knowledge and application of e-commerce is the only way forward for a country like Jordan.

The Amman Chamber of Industry is to be commended for its effort to educate its member companies on e-issues. It's another shinning example of private business initiatives that make Jordanians so versatile and which enable us to take on the challenges of the future in spite of our limited resources. By growing and nurturing the most important resource of the 21st century, knowledge, we can narrow the gap between our country and more developed economies.

Of course, we need to sell our knowledge to others, as we obviously can't make enough money selling it to one another inside Jordan!

Accordingly, the government's role is to help capitalize on the capabilities of Jordanian companies by opening up export markets. The track record of achievements in 'opening up' to the world in the past three years is quite impressive. With the perseverance of His Majesty King Abdullah, Jordan has pursued and signed every possible agreement to open up markets. We obtained entry into the General Agreement on Tariffs & Trade (GATT), the Jordan European Partnership and the US Free Trade Agreement.

All the foundations for successful export of Jordanian products, services and ideas are in place. What we need to focus on now is actually generating those excellent products and services. That's where 'internal development' initiatives like EBDA are important.

EBDA is a word that actually carries so many meanings when translated into English. It means innovativeness, creativity and ingenuity. Such excellent goals.

If Jordanians, in both business and government, actively pursue those goals, we'll have done what it takes to capitalize on the open markets and we'll realize some of the targets set for Jordan's economic future. In today's fast moving world- with it's new economic realties- it's not a choice, its a necessity.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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