The REACH Initiative, Jordan's first national information technology strategy, was created with input from many stakeholders, overseen by His Majesty King Abdullah and carried out entirely by the private sector – with notable results.
Launched in 1999, the strategy included a five-year detailed action plan to develop the information technology industry in Jordan, enhance its competitiveness in regional and global markets and form strong and effective partnership between the public and private sectors.The initiative focused on five key areas:
- Promotion of regulatory bodies
- Human resource development
- Government support
- Capital and finance
- Infrastructure development
REACH 2 and REACH 3, were adopted to acknowledge Jordan's journey towards a dynamic ICT industry. These updated, comprehensive strategies aim to enhance competition in local, regional and international markets and to identify successes and challenges Jordan faces in developing a vital and active information technology industry.
Between 1999 and 2007, ICT became the fastest growing sector of Jordan's economy, averaging 50 per cent growth per year in revenue, exports and jobs. The technology sector's revenue grew from $60 million to $1.4 billion, while the number of jobs in the sector grew from barely over 1,000 to 17,000 in the same period. When including IT-related jobs in other sectors, such as banking, Jordan's IT sector now employs close 60,000 Jordanians.
Meanwhile, thanks in part to the public sector initiatives and school connectivity programmes championed by King Abdullah, Internet penetration has risen to a robust 11.4 per cent – one of the highest rates among developing countries.