In a part of the world packed with petroleum-rich countries, Jordan is a place nearly devoid of oil rigs and refineries. Despite its lack of key natural resources, the country is fueling itself with energy all the same, in a form that isn’t dependent on neighbors — and that’s largely renewable. Many of those efforts are coming out of Amman, the country’s capital and largest city.
The estimated percentage of energy produced in Jordan that will be renewable by 2025
A campaign called Innovative Jordan is playing an important role. Launched in 2017, the Amman-based seed investment company and business accelerator is anchored by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, which supports Arab entrepreneurs including Young Innovators developing solutions for the future. The fund’s King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation & Achievement recognizes young social entrepreneurs working to find solutions to the country’s challenges, including those related to the environment.
Efforts such as these are making an important impact in the country’s energy sector. Since 2015, renewable energy’s contribution to Jordan’s total energy mix has gone from 0 to 6 percent, and by 2025, it’s estimated to make up 15 percent of all energy produced in the country. New jobs supporting the sector — many in Amman — number nearly 13,000 across more than 365 companies.
Innovators are building on that momentum as an opportunity to address the country’s longtime challenges. Last year, a private and public innovation hub called the National Centre for Innovation opened in Amman with an aim to streamline Jordan’s highly fragmented and complex network of organizations and stakeholders, especially as it relates to developing human capital in light of the country’s limited national resources.
While energy remains a focus, start-ups in other industries are also fueling the country. A start-up founded by Amman Young Innovator Penelope Shihab provides the perfect example. Her biotech research firm, MonoJo, is using camel milk — a resource plentiful in Jordan — to develop antibodies.