Jordan on Saturday signed a strategic partnership agreement with Microsoft to accelerate the development of the information technology sector, pushing forward the e-government and e-learning strategies. Information and Communications Technology Minister Fawwaz Zu'bi said the five-year deal, whose exact value will be announced later this month, will open the door to several Microsoft investments in the Kingdom.
"This agreement serves Jordan's overall strategy, through the completion of strategic projects, the promotion of the development of unique intellectual property jointly with Microsoft, and capacity building across all segments of society, as well as contributing to revolutionising education in Jordan," Zu'bi told reporters at the signing ceremony.
Under the deal, Microsoft will co-invest in projects selected jointly with the government from within the national strategies to bring the educational system online and allow citizens to obtain government services with the click of a mouse.
Also, Microsoft will supply advanced training to 1,000 engineers, set up and fully equip electronic libraries for 50,000 children in rural and remote areas, disclose source codes as part of technology transfer, and establish new IT academies
With yesterday's agreement, Jordan also becomes one of the first beneficiaries of Microsoft's "Partners in Learning" programme — a global initiative envisaging, amongst others, the distribution of software packages at greatly reduced prices or for free to schools.
"This strategic agreement hinges on four pillars," said Jean-Phillipe Courtois, CEO of Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa.
"We will build some services in e-government, support the e-learning strategy to turn Jordan into a knowledge-based society, help building capacity in local companies, make sure the overall society can benefit through training and development opportunities," Courtois said.
Mahmoud Khasawneh, head of Jordan's e-government team, said three projects had already been identified to inaugurate the partnership with Microsoft: One will involve the country's airports, setting up electronic gate systems; one will provide infrastructure for e-transactions at the e-government operations centre; the third will involve the Planning Ministry, where an "enterprise project management" system will be set up.
The partnership agreement crowns three years of contacts and more or less formal cooperation between the government and Microsoft. The cornerstone for cooperation was laid by His Majesty King Abdullah at a meeting with Microsoft's Chairman and founder Bill Gates, on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in February 2000.
Yesterday's deal is the conclusion of months of negotiations on areas of potential investment.
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