AMMAN — Introducing additional e-government services and raising awareness on the potential of the web are key steps that can be taken to boost Internet penetration in Jordan, which hit 50.5 per cent by the end of 2011, according to the ICT Association of Jordan (int@j).

To increase the number of Internet users, which reached 3.163 million by the end of 2011, int@j CEO Abed Shamlawi on Tuesday said training young Jordanians across the country on Internet skills and increasing Arabic content on the web should be a state priority.

"The growth in the number of Internet users in 2011 is impressive and shows the fast growing demand for the service," he told The Jordan Times yesterday.

Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) figures indicate that Internet penetration stood at 29 per cent by the end of 2009 and 38 per cent by the end of 2010.

"To make more people use the web, it is important to create an Internet culture in society by educating people on how to use the service and introducing them to its potential. It is also crucial that the government introduce more e-services," said Shamlawi.

"When the cost of an Internet subscription becomes lower, more people will start using the service. Currently, there is strong competition among Internet service providers and it is a matter of time before the service becomes affordable to the overwhelming majority of the people," he added.

Shamlawi also pointed out that Internet users in Jordan and elsewhere in the Arab world need to be able to access more content in Arabic, whether the content is video, games, graphics, text, or applications.

The TRC figures indicate that the ratio of Internet subscriptions in Jordan to the population reached 10 per cent by the end of 2011, which Shamlawi described as a "good and normal" percentage.

"In each house, an average of four or five people use the Internet. In each café that has WiFi, dozens use the service. So one Internet subscription might be used by many and that is normal," he said.