Umniah is a Strategic Partner at the MENA ICT Forum 2016
Asserting its continued support to the Kingdom’s ICT sector, Umniah was the main sponsor and the strategic partner at the MENA ICT Forum 2016, which was held by the ICT Association of Jordan (Int@j) under the patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah. Under the theme “Digitizing the Economy,” the MENA ICT Forum 2016 paralleled Umniah’s own strategy to transform itself into a digital operator through a number of ICT initiatives across the education, financial and banking sectors. One of the most effective of these initiatives is linking all of the Kingdom’s public and military education schools to an integrated network, which is largely considered the biggest ICT-related upgrade to the country’s education system in recent history. During a session called “Growth Hacking the Tech Industry: What does the Industry Need to Grow,” Umniah CEO Ziad Shatara stressed the crucial role the digital economy can play in creating new job opportunities, empowering women, and maximizing profitability, particularly through SMEs. He stressed that the transition towards digital economy can reduce the kingdom’s unemployment rate, which reached an alarming 15.8 percent during the third quarter of this year. Building a solid infrastructure is a crucial component of this transition. In Jordan, 83 percent of the population is connected to the Internet, making it a suitable market for digital products. For this reason, Shatara stressed the need for all sectors to come together to support this transition and raise the public’s awareness on the growing prevalence of digital services. Digital financial services, in particular, can help make everyday life much easier for all sectors of the population. During the “Digital Economy Infrastructure” session, Umniah Marketing Director, Zaid Ibrahim, said: “Jordan remains a significant market for telecom and ICT companies in the region. With a population of almost 10 million, the Kingdom is growing and so is its consumer base, with people demanding up-to-date technologies that reflect the fast moving digital world we live in today.” Ibrahim cited the challenges facing Jordan’s ICT sector, including the lack of dialogue between the government and the private sector, often regarding issuing new regulatory frameworks that greatly affect the sector. Ever-rising tax burdens and the gap between the new graduates’ skillsets and the local market’s demands that continues to widen, which limits the private sector’s access to local skilled labor, are two other main challenges. On the second day of the forum, Umniah announced a new initiative to support 100 entrepreneurs and SMEs under Int@j’s “1000 Entrepreneurs Initiative” in cooperation with Nejmy. Under the initiative, entrepreneurs will receive guidance on how to establish a startup and develop marketing tools to maximize its outreach to regional and international markets, as well tips on pitching to potential investors and strategic partners.