INTAJ tries to unify local IT industry

Jordan's Information Technology Association (INTAJ) is planning to use the forthcoming Gitex exhibition as a call to arms for the local software industry.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  September 29, 2003

Jordan's Information Technology Association (INTAJ) is planning to use the forthcoming 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 information technology 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 adds.

A possible pan-Arab software association would have obvious benefits to the region's overall IT economy. The prolonged economic recession in Egypt is increasing pressure on local developers to examine opportunities elsewhere in the region. More often than not this means hooking up with a local market partner.

"There is always need for cooperation. The recession has increased the need for local companies to look outside the country [Egypt] for opportunities. An Arab software association could help that, and foster greater trade," predicts Ismail.

Greater collaboration is the initial step towards much needed consolidation among local IT players.

Only by pooling resources will local systems integrators or developers be able to extend their business reach across the region. Consolidation in is already happening at pace in the Egyptian market. "There is greater consolidation and more strategic partnerships happening everyday," adds Ismail.

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