Risk Intel Report

Jordan: Infrastructure Upgrade

Highlights − Jordan is developing its infrastructure and building a fiber optic broadband network − Goals are to enhance communication infrastructure and build a skilled workforce − Kingdom is improving public access to healthcare and education On November 4, 2008, the Kingdom of Jordan inked a contract with Cisco Systems Inc. for the installation of a national broadband network. As a part of the Connecting Jordan Initiative (CJI), Jordan’s construction of a fiber optic broadband network is considered integral to the kingdom’s vision to enhance the general public’s access to computers and the Internet. In line with this vision, Jordan’s Ministry of Information and Communications Technology’s (MoICT) goal is for every school, college, university, and national knowledge station to be connected via networks at a level and speed that can support the country’s rapid network demand growth over the long-term. Enhanced development of Amman’s least developed neighborhoods is designed to attract foreign direct investment (FDI) and mitigate growing hostility among Jordan’s impoverished lower class. If successful, the economic development projects will mitigate tensions between the lower and upper classes in Jordan, as well as support the growth of an established middle class. Jordan 2.0 The three-year project to build the Cisco IP Next-Generation Network is just one of many ongoing large-scale development projects in the kingdom. The overlapping themes for Jordanian development are equal access and the development of a knowledge-based economy. Access, according to Jordan’s King Abdullah, means rebuilding crumbling city centers, healthcare centers, and schools in Jordan’s poverty stricken West Amman neighborhoods. In particular, the government is focused on enhancing education and healthcare in two of Amman’s poorest neighborhoods, Mahatta and Marka (which has a 15 percent poverty rate), and rebuilding Amman’s transportation depot and business centers in Abdalli. Through improving education, access to information technology (IT) and infrastructure in the kingdom’s less developed neighborhoods, King Abdullah hopes to build a knowledge base with which to attract increased FDI. With the introduction of an improved communications infrastructure, the government is hoping international businesses seeking a location for call centers or manufacturing plants will find Jordan an attractive place. Supplying the Electrical Grid In order to support the kingdom’s growing demand for electricity, Jordan is developing its nuclear power program, which will be supported by the kingdom’s vast uranium resources, shale oil and natural gas resources (Previous Report). The Jordan Atomic Energy Commission has signed nuclear cooperation deals with the US, China, Britain, and France in the construction of its nuclear program, and a preliminary agreement with South Korea. With the support of its allies, Jordan met with Areva on November 2, 2008 to discuss construction plans for the kingdom’s first nuclear power plant, as well as a timetable and general financing for the project. The kingdom’s shale oil ambitions are, on the other hand, in the early stages of development, with the Jordanian Natural Resources Authority (NRA) opting on November 4, 2008 to halt all shale oil exploration for 18 months in favor of mining the kingdom’s uranium deposits. Outlook for Success Given the kingdom’s reputation as a haven for stability in the region and vast supply of cheap labor, its efforts to build a fast, reliable broadband network and enhanced infrastructure will likely be rewarded. King Abdullah recognizes the kingdom’s need for economic growth to create jobs for Jordan’s growing workforce and fight poverty and unemployment, while supporting domestic stability. If the programs are embraced and properly utilized by the general public, it will likely be a sound investment. To date, some of the kingdom’s efforts to improve transportation infrastructure have gone unrewarded. For instance, the renovation

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