Groundbreaking Collaboration Between Middle Eastern Regulators and ICT Companies

Representatives from five Middle Eastern countries sign a memorandum of understanding for regional c Unprecedented exchange and collaboration among high-powered Middle Eastern telecommunications officials and public/private sector representatives occurred this past March 2004. During a series of USAID-funded meetings and workshops in Jordan, telecommunications leaders from five Arabic countries expressed a willingness to cooperate on promoting growth and development of the most important technology issues of the 21st century.

USAID/ANE and USAID/Jordan funded two workshops and a meeting: These three events focused on advancing the development of each organization and providing training on telecommunications topics. dot-GOV provided consultants and technical assistance to these workshops and concluded a subcontract to iJordan for logistics and workshop organization.

Arab Regional Alliance of Information Technology Associations (ARAITA) Strategic Planning Workshop
The ARAITA strategic planning workshop achieved the:
  • Formation of an effective regional network;
  • Development a 19 point action plan; and
  • Signing a five-country Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for further cooperation.
The MOU signatories include Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, and Palestine (Syria signed the MOU prior to the workshop but could not attend). One of the Egyptians was so pleased at the end of the action plan process, she said to the USAID ANE ICT Advisor: "..and we never agree on anything!"

Previous attempts to form such a regional IT alliance have failed when one association would overtake the effort and tailor the regional organization to address its own priorities. ARAITA members now have a common framework to guide exchange of information and collaboration. This exchange will strengthen the ICT private sector in each country and work toward regional solutions to marketplace barriers.

The World Association of Information Technology Associations (WITSA) delivered the workshop content. Follow-on assistance is planned for the next workshop in Greece prior to the WITSA World Congress in May 2004.

Arab Telecommunications Regulators Association (AICTRN) Annual Meeting
The AICTRN annual meeting was marked by:
  • Sharing of common problems encountered by regulatory authorities and developing interventions to address these issues;
  • Designing a more cohesive regional network structure;
  • The successful transition of Secretary General Leadership from Algeria to Jordan; and
  • Allowing USAID to provide technical assistance during the subsequent workshop organized by the TRC.
dot-GOV has provided an advisor, Mr. Brian Goulden, since July 2003 to help develop an agenda and work with the Chairwoman and CEO of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Jordan (TRC), Ms. Muna Nijem, to bring about a successful event. Follow-on assistance to the AICTRN meeting planned for Egypt for 2005.

Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Jordan Professional Development Workshop
The Professional Development Workshop was organized by the TRC and included attendees from the ARAITA and AICTRN. This workshop provided training on hot telecommunications and ICT regulatory topics, such as: interconnection, spectrum management, universal service, enforcement and dispute resolution, ethics and conflicts of interest, and capacity building.

Ambassador David Gross, Coordinator, International Telecommunications Policy, US Department of State gave the keynote presentation. The hot topic sessions were delivered by experts from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission; the U.S. National Telecommunications Information Administration; the International Telecommunications Union; experts from the regulatory authorities of Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan; the University of Colorado, U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute, Internews Network, Computer Frontiers, and individual consultants provided by dot-GOV.

Private sector representatives, such as X-Press, Jordan Telecom, MobileCom, Motorola, Nokia, and Batelco Jordan, were invited to participate and sponsored lunch and short break sessions. This workshop marked the extent to which public sector officials and private sector representatives were willing to listen to each other and seek common understanding of key issues facing the region and each country.

Because of the quality of exchanges, it was agreed that the AICTRN meeting to be held in Egypt in 2005 will be held in conjunction with a regulatory capacity building workshop, focusing on one topic.

dot-GOV is implemented by Internews Network and is funded by USAID/EGAT/EIT (under the dot-GOV Leader Award No. GDG-A-00-01-00009-00).

For More Information, Contact:
Sarah Tisch, Ph.D.
Chief-of-Party, dot-GOV
Internews Network
Tel: 202 833-5740 x 203

Brian Goulden
Director, SIPRS Project
Internews Network

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