INT@J issues call to arms

Jordan's Information Technology Association (INTAJ) is using today's Gitex exhibition as a call to arms for the local software industry to create an IT association that will take care of its needs.

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By  Matthew Southwell Published  October 17, 2003

Jordan's Information Technology Association (INTAJ) is using today's Gitex exhibition as a call to arms for the local software industry. The IT association is pushing for the formation of a regional software association to act as an advocacy body for the industry, capable of promoting intellectual property rights, cross-border trade, movement of labour and other regulatory issues.

"The association would promote and enable the creation of a viable software industry throughout the region, and not just what can be done in Jordan, Lebanon or the UAE," says Marwan Juma, chairman of INTAJ.

In light of a shrinking global IT market, there has been growing interest in building an inter-regional trade. Jordan's IT association has been in discussions with similar bodies in the region to promote greater cooperation.

In recent weeks, delegations from both the Egyptian and Lebanese IT associations have visited Jordan. "We are talking about building inter-regional trade and cooperation," says Juma. "The Levant, Bahrain and Egypt are the main software development [centres] in the region. And the only tactical way to [create greater] cooperation on a regional level is to put everybody under one umbrella," he adds.

A key role for the pan-Arab software association would be the ongoing fight against software piracy. According to Sayed Ismail, chairman, Egyptian Council of Software & Hi-Tec, ICT Chamber, rampant software piracy has undermined the development of the local software industry.

"The rate of piracy in some markets is still very high. Intellectual property rights are not actively protected in some parts of the region. This is restricting the market," he explains.

A possible pan-Arab software association would also have obvious benefits to the Middle East's overall ITC economy. "There is always need for cooperation... [and] an Arab software association could help that, and foster greater trade," Ismail predicts.

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