Amman is to rewrite its telecoms law as part of government efforts to establish the kingdom as an IT services hub for the region.

Speaking at the Arab Advisors Group Media and Telecommunications Convergence Conference 2010 in Amman on 7 June, Jordan’s Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Minister Marwan Juma announced the review. “We are revisiting the telecoms law to ensure it safeguards [Jordan’s competitiveness] for the next ten years,” he said.

Amman has put the development of a knowledge-based economy built around an ICT services industry at the heart of its economic development plans. But Juma said the private sector needed to do more to deliver to help Amman meet its goals.   

“This can only be done in partnership with the private sector,” he said.  “We have done our job as the regulators. But the operators must do more. We have removed customs fees for WIMAX [Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access – a type of broadband wireless access] operations and removed spectrum fees. We want speeds of 10 megabytes. 2-3 MB is no longer enough. It is wrong that still only 1 per cent of internet content is in Arabic. It time for US operators to do something about Arabic.”

Amman has delivered strong growth in employment in the kingdom’s ICT sector over the past decade, with around 2.5 million people employed in the sector today. The sector accounts for around 14 per cent of Jordan’s gross domestic product. But Juma warned of the danger of a divide between the capital and the rest of the country. “We must be careful to avoid a divide within the country,” he said. “We can’t have high-speed access in Amman, but not outside. We must have broadband access everywhere.”