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OECD public-private dialogue session discusses methods to strengthen ICT sector

By Batool Ghaith - Jun 23,2022 - Last updated at Jun 23,2022

AMMAN — Infrastructure sharing is needed in the ICT sector in order to reduce costs, according to ICT sector representatives.

The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) held a public-private dialogue on Thursday, focusing on promoting investment and business climate reforms in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector in Jordan.

The discussion highlighted the most prominent challenges in ICT. This included the interpretation, execution, implementation pace and the impacts of laws and regulations on the sector.

ICT representatives also discussed policy options to improve ICT investment environment in Jordan, a set of priority reforms and the need for infrastructure sharing to reduce costs.

According to the OECD, the meeting followed a public-private dialogue in June 2021 with ICT sector representatives to identify challenges and policy priorities on the business and regulatory environment, infrastructure, ICT costs and skills.

During the discussion, Chairman and CEO of Telecom Regulatory Commission Bassam Al Sarhan, said that infrastructure sharing is “under study” for Jordan.

“We need to adopt modern mechanisms in the ICT sector,” Sarhan said, adding that the ICT sector needs investment on a larger scale.

According to Sarhan, the government’s efforts during the pandemic re-structured and intensified efforts to enable the “major generations of Internet”. 

He emphasised the need for incentives in “unserved areas”, which would add coverage to rural areas of the Kingdom.

“In order to develop the ICT sector in Jordan, we need to reassess the amendments and regulations of the sector and change disputes resolutions,” he said.

Ziad Shatara, CEO of Umnia Jordan, also said that it is important to invest in 5G amid the high energy costs to have coverage reach everyone, noting the need for infrastructure sharing regulations and promotion.

“The ICT sector in Jordan has taxation issues as there are costly special taxes imposed. These are usually imposed on luxurious products in other countries, which is why it is necessary to remove the special taxes as telecom is not a luxury but a necessity, and we have seen that during the pandemic,” Shatara said.

Head of the ICT Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce in Jordan Mothanna Gharaibeh said that the Kingdom continued to deliver high quality services during the lockdown to global clients, “which a lot of countries could not do”.

According to Gharaibeh, ICT services in Jordan are not the cheapest but they are “competitive”.

Gharaibeh added that the Economic Modernisation Vision aims to create and empower a public data agency which would help Jordan with proper data recording and make them even more competitive.

“The government, private sector and stakeholders are on the same pathway for modernisation. Now we only need a strategy, better governance and to minimise human judgement in order to achieve that Economic Modernisation Vision,” Gharaibeh said.

 

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