Jordan’s Digital Chance

Our guest, Dr. Baha Al Deen Al Khasawneh, holds a PhD in Computer Science, specifically in the multimedia field. He has over 20 years of experience in developing IT systems and consulting in Jordan and the United States, in addition to teaching in Princess Sumaya University for Technology. Today he is the General Manager of the National Information Technology Center.

Dr. Baha, welcome to Al-Mo’asher and to Amman TV.

Baha Al Khasawneh: Thank you.

Could you kindly tell us about the financial plan of the National Information Technology Center?

Baha Al Khasawneh: At first, let me give you a simplified brief about the services we provide at the National Information Technology Center, on which our future plans were based on. The Centre is responsible for providing internet service for all governmental institutions in terms of internet and hosting. What I mean by hosting is we host cabins, devices, software and applications. As for governmental institutions, we provide e-mail service for all the employees of the Kingdom’s government. There are additional services which we provide, we host Internet websites and provide security for institutions, which means we also have information security, this is a very important issue in the National Information Technology Centrer. In addition, we have a committee for purchasing IT devices and equipment for governmental institutions, this is done through the National Information Technology Center, we also manage the Knowledge Stations Program. As for our future plans, we’re staying updated with the technology acceleration regarding the e-government and services provided by the institutions. Information security is a very important issue, now in the Center we founded a team responding to information security incidents and dealing with any penetrations, meaning any electronic attacks on institutions or websites. These are our plans, to expand according to the services provided by governmental institutions. There is also the issue of domain registration, we are responsible for registering any Jordanian domains which end with (.jo), in both Latin and Arabic alphabets. The first website domain registered in Arabic is His Majesty King Abdullah’s website, written in Arabic alphabet (abdullah.jordan), this certainly encourages the use of Arabic language and increases the importance of Jordan’s contribution in the internet and Arabic content fields. We also signed an agreement with the Amman Chamber of Commerce to register companies, whether in Arabic or Latin letters in order to encourage traders to have Internet websites and enter the world of e-commerce.

The question is, today it is a global trend to head towards digitizing things, or “Internet of things.” Is Jordan ready for this or not?

Baha Al Khasawneh: Jordan is like the rest of the world’s countries going now through a phase called “the electronic chance” or “the digital chance” which has some specific features. Now the infrastructure in Jordan is in great state, whether in the public sector which is distinguished by a fiber optics network installed by the government, covers the whole Kingdom and will be completed by 2018, or the infrastructure of Internet Service Providers which you can see in the streets now. There are optic fibers, whether wired or wireless in this infrastructure and the internet is spreading. Most importantly, we have a royal support under the patronage of His Majesty for all initiatives related to IT, attracting investments in this field and encouraging the use of Information Technology. We also have educational initiatives under the patronage of Her Majesty to use technology for educational purposes in schools. If we take advantage of these points and if they are used correctly, we are talking about a qualitative leap regarding IT in Jordan.

Yes, so speaking of a qualitative leap in digital economy, we started hearing this term, we hear that in UAE the digital economy contributed to its GDP by 4.03 percent. Has Jordan reached this level of advance regarding digital economy? Let us at first explain to the viewers what digital economy is.

Baha Al Khasawneh: It is the use of IT for a certain purpose, digital economy is the use of it and the completion process of transactions and services for any economic sector using technology. It has many important reasons, providing service now became available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so these services provided to citizens or anyone who needs to use services, are now available around the clock. The second this is the reduced costs for any institution or sector which provides this service.

There is transparency in this process that eliminates a lot of financial and administrative corruption, so wherever it is applied, there is a positive indicator and this is the most important reason for using internet and IT in the economic fields. We are hoping for an increase in employment rates to around 15 thousand new jobs and an increase in the number of companies using IT to 5-7 thousands in order to boost the economy and digital economy which we already talked about and an increase in the GDP. By 2020, we’re heading towards achieving paperless coordination between governmental institutes, which means electronic coordination between them. All these initiatives and measures in the private sector in collaboration with the public sector will lead Jordan towards digital economy.

Dr. Baha Al Deen Al Khasawneh the General Manager of the National Information Technology Centre, I’m very pleased for this interview and Dialogue in Al-Mo’asher. Best wishes.

Baha Al Khasawneh: Thank you very much.