The European Union (EU) and Orange Jordan inaugurated on Wednesday the Orange Digital Village in Aqaba, and the Women Digital Center at Princess Basma Center for Human Development, as part of “Innovation Space”, marking a continuation of the EU and Orange’s joint efforts to support youth in digital and entrepreneurial fields. This three-year project is co-funded by the EU’s “Innovation for Enterprise Growth and Jobs” program.
The event was attended by the Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship, H.E. Ahmad Hanandeh, EU Ambassador to Jordan, H.E. Maria Hadjitheodosiou, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority Chief Commissioner, H.E. Nayef A. Bakheet, Governor of Aqaba, H.E. Mohammad Al Rafaiah, Aqaba Representative, Obaid Yassin, Aqaba Development Corporation CEO, Hussein Safadi, Aqaba Special Economic Zone Commissioner of Youth & Entrepreneurship, Ramzy AlKabarity, President of the University of Jordan Aqaba Branch, Professor Dr. Amer Salman, and CEO of Orange Jordan, Thierry Marigny, in addition to media representatives.
Moving forward towards achieving the EU and Orange Jordan’s common goals of “training for employment”, the digital village in Aqaba comprises a coding academy that provides training in programming languages and personal skills required in the labor market for seven months, including a one-month internship.
The newly inaugurated village also includes a Fabrication Lab (FabLab) that offers training in the latest machines, tools, and programs in this field, such as laser cutting, CNC, and 3D printers, to create prototypes that will grow into entrepreneurial projects.
In the context of the “Innovation Space” project in Aqaba, the EU and Orange Jordan also inaugurated a Women Digital Center at Princess Basma Center for Human Development in partnership with the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD), attended by PMO Director at the Fund, Dina Alaeddin. The Center is an extension of the successful program, which includes 8 centers in seven governorates, implemented by Orange Foundation and JOHUD to empower women with managerial, digital, and marketing skills needed to support their projects.
The expansion of Orange digital programs in Aqaba will empower more youth, as it is expected to reach around 1000 beneficiaries/certificates, as it will cater not only to Aqaba, but also the surrounding villages and nearby southern cities.
Additionally, Orange Jordan and the EU launched an incubator and startup accelerator to support entrepreneurs in Aqaba and enable them to scale up.
EU Ambassador H.E. Maria Hadjitheodosiou stressed the importance of mainstreaming digital entrepreneurship and innovation culture across the Kingdom, which are key to creating employment opportunities for Jordanian youth. “The core of the “Innovation Space” project is about increasing the opportunities for employment, creating local value and enhancing the capacity of small and medium enterprises and entrepreneurs to innovate. Reaching out to youth, students and entrepreneurs all across the country in order to enhance their digital skills is an essential element of this project.”
CEO of Orange Jordan, Thierry Marigny, expressed his excitement about the extended digital programs at the Orange Digital Village in Aqaba and the new digital centers executed in partnership with JOHUD, as they will offer youth in the southern governorates the opportunity to benefit from free digital programs in the most in-demand skills in the labor market, as well as the support provided to launching and growing startups.
Marigny said that this step aims to enhance innovation culture on a larger scale in Jordan and enable more beneficiaries, noting that the “Innovation Space” project seeks to increase the number of beneficiaries to more than 20,000 in 29 locations across the Kingdom.
He also noted that these projects fall under Orange Jordan’s comprehensive social responsibility strategy, and its role as a responsible digital leader, seeking to curb the unemployment rate, and increase employment opportunities for youth across the Kingdom, while supporting entrepreneurial and ambitious projects that will drive economic growth.
The “Innovation Space” project supports the expansion of Orange’s digital programs to include 9 Community Digital Centers, in addition to 5 new coding academies, 5 FabLabs, 8 startups accelerators and incubators, in addition to an “Innovation Hub” at the Orange Digital Village in Amman.
The EU-funded “Innovation Space” is a pioneering initiative in Jordan and a one-stop shop for digital innovation and entrepreneurial support. It introduces digital culture, fosters digital skills, especially among women and youth, and promotes and nurtures entrepreneurship by identifying key opportunities for digital economic growth.