The Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) and Microsoft have renewed their strategic partnership agreement, originally signed in 2003, to provide software licenses, training and technical support for various governmental entities, at a cost of US$ 8.7 million, and implemented by Microsoft's' strategic partner, General Computers and Electronics Company (GCE).
According to the agreement, Microsoft will reinvest US$3million, half of which will be allotted to develop and implement several strategic projects agreed upon with MoICT. The remaining amount will be reinvested in development programs for Microsoft's local software solutions partners, in addition to implementing an internship program for students at the MoICT, which is part of the overall objective of supporting the IT sector, the Local Software Economy (LSE) and the national economy as a whole.
The renewed agreement is extended until 2009, according to which Microsoft will provide technical support to governmental entities, while helping them unify their IT systems and processes where appropriate.
Microsoft's experts will be visiting the various governmental entities on a regular basis, providing their expertise and recommendations with regards to enhancing performance through IT, installing and operating Microsoft's Systems Management Server and training employees on how to use it.
Presentations on Microsoft's latest solutions and technologies, in addition to implementing Proof-of-Concept projects will be implemented through GCE.
During the signing ceremony, Eng. Basem Rousan, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology, said "The ongoing cooperation between MoICT and multinational information technology companies such as Microsoft, has contributed significantly to developing our specialized labor force, bridging the digital gap, as well as encouraging and supporting innovation in the Jordanian ICT sector, which will ultimately enhance the country's competitiveness regionally and internationally."
Eng Rousan stressed that renewing this agreement came to build on the successful partnership between the Government of Jordan and Microsoft. He added that government paid special attention to Public Private Partnership as an enabler of an investment centric environment for all sectors, especially ICT.
Zeid Shubailat, Microsoft Jordan Country Manager, added, "According to the new agreement, Microsoft will offer public sector entities a substantial discount of up to 65% on various Microsoft product licenses, which is an increase from the previous agreement. Moreover, Microsoft will provide governmental employees with the necessary training to enhance their performance, which in turn will improve services provided to the general public. At the end of the day, everything we do is for the public, who ultimately are the main beneficiaries of this partnership."
Shubailat went on to highlight the important role the government has played in protecting Intellectual Property rights by saying, "The government focuses on empowering IP principles in Jordan, placing the Kingdom as a leader and a role model for governments in the region with regards to respecting and promoting Intellectual Property laws. In addition to enhancing the use of IT in the public sector, the Government’s enforcement of IPR laws has also had a positive impact on the Kingdom and the Local Software Economy."
Eng. Abdul Rahim Milbes, GCE General Manager, said "This agreement comes as part of the GCE's goal to create significant partnerships with all sectors of the economy, especially the public sector. We are confident that this agreement will play a significant role in unifying and updating the Microsoft software used by the public sector, and to keep Jordan up to date with what is happening around the world in the IT sector."
Highlighting GCE's role in the agreement, Milbes added, "We will provide high quality training for 830 engineers and IT specialists on various Microsoft programs. Our qualified engineers, specialized in IT infrastructure and Microsoft Network Security, will also provide all governmental entities included in the agreement with regular technical support."
Microsoft’s Shubailat explained the importance of this agreement in terms of supporting the local community, stating that "Social responsibility is one of Microsoft's most important pillars, reflecting the company's firm belief in the importance of the private sector contributing to the development of the public sector and local community. In this regard, Microsoft has implemented several successful projects in partnership with the Royal Hashemite Court, the Ministry of Planning, the Income and Sales Tax Department and the Civil Status and Passport Department."
Microsoft has also partnered up with the Ministry of Education to improve the country's educational sector through the adoption of modern technologies. These have been implemented through projects such as the Partners in Learning initiative, in addition to several Microsoft training courses. Microsoft also established an e-library in Amman and Marka, and supported knowledge-stations throughout the country which aim at enhancing the usage of IT.
Several new e-Services will be implemented according to the renewed agreement including Secondary Exam Registration e-Services, Tawjihi Exam Registration e-Services, Health Insurance Cards e-Services and Unified Electronic Admission for Universities.
The partnership between the Government of Jordan and Microsoft dates back several years, when King Abdullah II and Bill Gates signed an agreement in January 2000, during the World Economic Forum in Davos, which resulted in Microsoft being the first multinational technology company to open its offices in Jordan as of 2001.