On a recent trip to Jordan, EMG founder Daan Elffers spent a morning with Mr Omar Alkurdi, the former Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in the Government of Prime Minister Marouf Al Bakhitthe.
Mr Alkurdi explained how investment in the country’s ICT infrastructure was focused, among other projects, on promoting e-services, such as e-health and e-government. He explained that the costs of installing such services will be greatly exceeded by the fiscal savings and societal benefits that they have brought. For example, e-healthcare services will reduce the requirement for potential patients to visit hospitals as many can find diagnosis, obtain technical support and even speak with healthcare professionals online – thus helping to reduce the stress of hospital admission. The ability of e-services to overcome reliance on products which consume finite resources so readily was also considered a particular benefit.
It was agreed that ICT services themselves offer important tools to practitioners of CSR, as fundamentally they can contribute to the more efficient use of resources, help create new communities and enhance innovation. He spoke of a “virtual village” of 7 billion people, where each connected individual was a potential consumer – this greatly increasing the potential markets within which Jordanian companies can operate and compete.
“The beauty of ICT is that there are no boundaries”
Mr Alkurdi praised how, in Jordan, early realization of these opportunities – with regard to social mobility – has led to commendable and diligent development of the sector. Many Jordanians have since profited because of this early realization –which has helped the Middle Eastern nation’s development in spite of its lack of crude oil. Mr Alkurdi described one of Jordan’s greatest capital assets as being its human capital, with ICT services being a key tool in mobilizing and increasing its national productivity.
Challenges posed by the industry include reduced levels of social interaction that result from an increasingly digitally connected world. “You see a lot of people sitting together, and in fact they’re communicating over the phone, rather than communicating verbally and exchanging facial expressions, and body language, and experiences, and smiles, and what-have-you – and that’s what makes a society, at the end of the day.”
Article: ICT in Jordan