Established in February 2001, the Aqaba Special Economic Zone is a socioeconomic model for Jordan. The USAID-sponsored Aqaba Zone Economic Mobilization (AZEM) project provided services to aid the zone’s governing bodies the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) and the Aqaba Development Company (ADC)?in reaching the following goals for socioeconomic development:
- Improve economic opportunities,
- Implement a new model of public sector governance,
- Simplify the regulatory environment, Improving the climate for investment,
- Create job opportunities, and
- Enhance the role of civil society.
AZEM helped the Zone become a model for governance in Jordan through four project components.
- Change Management. AZEM helped unite people, processes, organizational structures, and technologies to facilitate ASEZA?s ability to manage current and future needs. We first guided ASEZA through the separation of its governmental and development functions, including the creation of the ADC. Our financial analysis guided ASEZA in reaching solvency after assets and revenue streams were transferred to the ADC. During the transition, ASEZA adopted best practices (including ISO 9000 certifications of selected units) to create an open, transparent organization and attract investors. AZEM also redirected ASEZA?s core functions to meet customers? needs, reengineering business processes, and establishing the practice of continuous performance improvement.
- Capacity Building. AZEM provided the tools and methods necessary for ASEZA staff to become efficient and improve organizational performance.
- Economic Development . We analyzed the Zone?s comparative economic advantages to establish a long-term development plan. We conducted cost-benefit analyses of policies, projects and activities; and helped to establish a statistical and economic research unit so ASEZA can conduct economic and statistical research and evaluate policies independently.
- Small Grants Program. This program funded projects that built capacity, that improved the community?s standard of living, and that enriched the Zone?s economy.
Through the Community Development Program, AZEM explored practical means for maximizing the participation of the local community in the Zone?s economic growth without jeopardizing investment potential in the Zone.