Broadband internet and its effects on job opportunities in the region

Broadband internet and its effects on job opportunities in the region

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International Studies State that a 1% Penetration of Broadband Internet Increases Job Opportunities 5%


Increases in broadband penetration provide a fertile environment for the establishment of digital content and e-commerce companies and guarantee the creation of thousands of job opportunities

High-speed broadband Internet – whether mobile or cable – is no longer a luxury or an extravagant service. It has become a part of the daily lives of individuals, corporations, and institutions.

This 40 year old service has been one of the most influential and world-changing inventions of history, and it is no longer looked at as a supplementary cost by individuals, businesses, governments, and other organizations. On the contrary, global and local experts alike confirm the positive relationship between broadband services and economic development in establishing new projects that generate various direct and indirect job opportunities.

Experts believe that Internet penetration in developing countries is considered a significant element of development in these countries and a driver of economic progress. They also believe high-speed broadband networks have become a crucial infrastructural asset across all economic sectors. Broadband Internet is especially important for companies in industries with a heavy focus on digital content, applications, e-commerce and government transaction projects.

In a report issued last year, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) pointed out the significant and positive economic effect for the dissemination of high-speed Broadband Internet all over the world, especially in supporting different economic sectors, energizing the economy and increasing job opportunities and consequently the GDP of countries’ economies.

According to an ITU report the impact of broadband is positive on creating job opportunities It is estimated that an increase in its penetration of 1% would generate 5.32% more jobs. However, researchers believe that the greatest increase in job opportunities due to broadband’s penetration would be in the service sectors, mainly finance, education and health among others.

The Union stated that investment in broadband Internet is increasing constantly in all markets throughout the world, presenting examples such as the United States which invested more than $97.7 billion in broadband penetration in the period between 2004 -2010.

It also pointed out that since 2009, Chinese companies invested $7.44 billion in broadband while the Malaysian operators invested $1.6 billion.

According to the Union’s report, a number of the developed countries are working on promoting broadband as part of the economic recovery to ensure the spread of Internet networks and to stimulate job growth.

Moreover, international figures show that the percentage of the Internet’s penetration around the world surpassed 34% at the end of last year with estimated 2.4 billion users; 100 million out of them are located in the Arab world. Similarly, the local figures show an increase in the number of the Internet users to 4 million users by the end of last year.

Additionally, the ITU expects high-speed broadband penetration growth all around the world, estimating that that penetration will increase to 60% globally by the year 2015 (after two years).

In its latest report, issued last year, entitled “Measuring the Information Society 2012″, the Union added that reaching this percentage of Internet penetration around the world requires Internet penetration of 50% in developing countries and 15% in the least developed countries by the year 2015; these are the areas with the lowest percentage of Internet penetration.

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman of Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization, has told the Al Ghad newspaper earlier last year that information technology and the Internet will lead the global economy in the coming era with the introduction of these technologies in all economic sectors. Mr. Abu-Ghazaleh also stated that “digitalism” will be the “nervous system” of the global economy of the future.

Abu-Ghazaleh told Al Ghad that no one expected this leap and evolution in the Internet network and the succeeding development in the services, locations and related devices and equipment saying that the near and distant future will bring about more development in this field with the merging and introduction of digitalism and information technology and the Internet.

“I believe that digitalism will be similar to the nervous system for economies and societies as we will be controlling things through digital means, and we will learn and trade by depending on its solutions and its different systems. We will communicate, write, inform and search for information and news through multi-digital systems and the Internet. In brief, we will do everything and deal with individuals and things through the Internet and through digital methods.”

He added “In this context, we can call the user the term ‘Knowledge Human’ as an expression of the individual or human being who operates all aspects of his life through a convergence of digital means and technologies.”

Commenting on the sector’s trends and tendencies, Abu-Ghazaleh said that telecommunications services are moving towards mobility and the age of fixed telecommunications is coming to an end. This will be witnessed in the future presenting users with more ease and flexibility their daily lives. In another word, it will keep them in constant contact with their work, acquaintances, the external world and the search for information.”

In addition to mergers, Abu-Ghazaleh believes that “we will reach a time in the future where most of the telecommunication services would be free of charge and high-speed broadband – and I am talking here about really high speeds – and this will be a primary right for humans in their societies or countries.”

“I know what was earlier mentioned seems to be about talking of a different world, yet, I truly believe that some of these things have started to emerge,” Abu-Ghazaleh concluded.

For his part, CEO of Information Technology Association of Jordan (Int@j) Abed Shamlawi reiterated the importance of disseminating the broadband services on the economy.

“Internet has become an essential tool for economic development and the service is increasingly growing in Jordan and the region, as it’s currently considered one of the fastest growing regions worldwide,” he said.

“Competition in the communications and Internet sector in particular has tremendously contributed to the rise of these services in addition to the rise of smartphones. I believe that the percentage of the Internet penetration in the Kingdom is acceptable.” However, he underlined the significance of the need to thoroughly and appropriately utilize this service in all the economic sectors to boost its productivity and efficiency and for faster performance with lower expenses.”

He noted that broadband networks are the most important infrastructure to support entrepreneurship in areas such as e-content projects, e-commerce, finance, banking and governmental transactions. These are the fields,which will not only develop the status of their sectors but also create additional job opportunities.

He stated that many entrepreneurial projects in this sector are prospering due to broadband Internet. These are enabled and accelerated by technologies like social networks and smartphone applications that did not exist ten years ago.

Shamlawi expected that the coming years will witness more pioneering ideas and projects in the services sector that offer content and services, based on broadband Internet. He called for looking for new ideas to employ information technology to serve sectors such as health and education, which he believes will open the door for the development of technical projects based on unique and new ideas that meet the daily demands of the users.

Shamlawi also stated that there are big opportunities awaiting the e-commerce sector in the region with the penetration of the Internet, something, which according to Shamlawi will stimulate other sectors associated with trade and consequently generate thousands of job opportunities in the future.

Meanwhile, Ala Alsallal, Founder and CEO of jamalon.com– which is one of the entrepreneurial companies that benefited from the Oasis 500 fund that supports such projects in the IT field, said he believes that increases in Internet penetration have encouraged him to turn his idea into a pioneering project on the Internet that seeks to create the largest e-store to sell Arabic books in the region and to become the “Amazon” of the Arabic region.

He revealed that his idea existed in 2008; however, work started in 2010 when he officially launched his website. “The increasing growth of the Internet in the Kingdom and the Arab region along with the changes in the local IT sector and the acceptance of the Internet users and the willingness of investors to invest in internet-based projects encouraged me to start my own project,” Alsallal noted.

“It’s inappropriate to establish a project similar to international projects in your local environment and Arab society mainly as our societies haven’t yet benefited from the Internet as much as they could or from the economic and commercial applications of cyberspace in comparison to the west where e-commerce constitutes around one third of its economies.” He concluded by saying that foreign ideas in this regard or any other context should be adapted to the context of the Arab world and the local community.

The international statistics reveal that Africa and the Middle East, where most of the Arab countries are located, were the fastest growing parts of the world in terms of Internet usage. Africa ranked first among all other continents and regions in a special indicator for the growth in using the Internet in the period (2000-2011) with a growth percentage that reached 2527%. The Middle East region ranked second with a percentage that reached 1987% in the last decade.

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