Digital economy making inroads in Morocco

Agency officials said they expected the number of domestic telecommunications transactions to reach 33 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) by the end of 2019.

RABAT - Official statistics indicating significant increases in the number of internet users in Morocco are evidence of the success of efforts by the government to establish a digital economy as a gateway towards sustainable development.

Data from the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) stated that the number of internet service subscribers in Morocco exceeded 26 million, distributed over Maroc Telecom, Inwi and Orange.

Agency officials said they expected the number of domestic telecommunications transactions to reach 33 billion dirhams ($3.4 billion) by the end of 2019, an increase of about $208 million from 2017.

The data confirmed that the national plan to develop broadband internet provided quality telephone service and high-frequency internet connection for 10,740 villages using 2G, 3G and 4G technologies and networks.

Morocco has experienced an increasing spread of internet and net-generation 4G networks. Moroccan Prime Minister Saad Eddine El Othmani has stressed the importance of the communications and information technology sector, considering it an important point of social and economic development.

The telecommunications sector is vital to attract investments, provide job opportunities and reduce regional disparity, in addition to improving competitiveness of the economy in international markets. Morocco has been investing in digital infrastructure to keep pace with global transformations.

Rabat obtained a $610 million loan from the World Bank in February 2019 to support digital transformation of the economy. The support came within the framework of a broader partnership between Morocco and the World Bank, which seeks to harness the potential of digital technologies to enhance entrepreneurship, productivity and e-government initiatives to drive innovation and comprehensive development.

Maroc Telecom’s share of the number of subscribers to telephone services was about 42% — about 20.3 million subscribers. Orange was reported to have 16 million subscribers and Inwi about 10.8 million.

A study by ANRT confirmed the wide use of smartphones to access the internet, which demonstrates a high level of interest in internet services. The study stated that the largest segment of smartphone users were aged 12-24.

Digital Morocco 2020 aims to accelerate Morocco’s digital transformation and enhance its position internationally in information technology. Authorities want to make the most of digitisation and stimulate the leadership of information and communications technology. Improving access to the internet is one of the main goals of the plan.

Moroccan Minister of Industry, Investment, Trade and Digital Economy Hafeez Alami said the country hopes to make the digital field a lever for development. He recently said that Digital Morocco 2020 “indicates the start of a new dynamic of transformation in the digital economy sector and for the various actors in this sector.”

The government said an increase in the number of customers in information technology and related programmes requires an overhaul in management. Saloua Karkri Belkeziz, president of the Information, Communications Technology and Offshoring Federation, said she considers digitisation the backbone of the economic development model.

She pointed out that the digital transformation represents a real force for development in all strategic sectors for strengthening the Moroccan economy and increasing its international reach.

Federation Vice-President Yusuf al-Alawi emphasised the trend is to make digital transformation a national priority by combining the digital revolution with culture and capabilities.

“The process of digitisation, which is the true engine for development in Morocco and Africa, has become a major source working to meet the endless needs of citizens,” Alawi said. He added that the challenge is to make human resources the cornerstone of the digital transformation.