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Webinar series highlights Kingdom’s utilisation of a digital economy

Opportunities Beyond the Coronavirus, the first online session in Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s webinar series, discussed how the epidemic could accelerate the Kingdom’s utilisation of a digital economy.
 
Economist Nidal Bitar, the main speaker of the session, said: “Just like our social habits will change after the coronavirus, such as letting go of greeting kisses and standing too close to each other, so will we acquire new economic habits.”
 
Bitar noted that although Jordan has the infrastructure for a more lively digital economy, the main challenge is improving people’s digital literacy.
 
“For a digital economy to prosper, you have three elements: the people, the infrastructure and legislation. Jordan has been working on all three, with new teaching methods training kids in primary schools on media literacy,” he added.
 
The economist pointed out that the coronavirus “brought out” the people’s newly taught media literacy, noting that official statistics that showed that 70 per cent of students have been able to keep up with their studies online is “an impressive development”.
 
Bitar also said that other incidents, such as 40 women from Karak being able to take an online course by Intaj was “not considered or deemed possible before the coronavirus pushed us to consider that as a solution”.
 
In countries like China, Bitar added, technology was very important in detecting the virus, and the digital economy’s role was to keep the country’s logistics and supply chain running.
 
“If technology was not there, things could have been a lot worse. The data available through technology made China’s solutions better,” he added.
 
In Jordan, startups, medium-sized enterprises and big corporations have offered “a number of important suggestions, some of which have been applied,” according to Bitar.
 
One example was the utilisation of e-wallets, a service that six companies in Jordan offer.
 
“This is not a new concept, but it has certainly been called into action more during this crisis. It played an important role in transferring money to employees with the absence of bank services in the first weeks of the curfew, as well as in curbing the threat of using paper money,” noted Bitar.
 
He concluded, “as we can see, a digital economy is no longer a luxury or a remote sector closed in on itself. It is an essential sector that has contributed to alleviating the consequences of the pandemic and will continue to do so in the next one”.
 
Jordan Times 
7 April 2020