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January 2013 Morocco - North Africa’s Forgotten Child Mention IT in North Africa and talk
January 2013 Morocco - North Africa’s Forgotten Child Mention IT in North Africa and talk

January 2013

Morocco - North Africa’s Forgotten Child

Mention IT in North Africa and talk inevitably turns to Egypt. But perhaps they should be thinking about the potential in Morocco? Budde has called Morocco ‘one of the most advanced telecommunications markets in Africa and often seen as a role model for future developments in other parts of the continent’, while its proximity to Europe means it is well placed to become a technology leader on the continent. To test opinion on Morocco, we interviewed 38 IT and business professionals in Morocco and the MENA area, asking if they thought the country’s IT market had potential to boom. In this short study, we found the results were incredibly positive. This was especially true from within the country, where almost 90% felt the country was ready to boom.

Do you feel that Morocco's IT sector has potential to boom?

[Source: IDG Connect]

IT sector has potential to boom? [ Source: IDG Connect ] Yes No 86.6% 48% 15.4%
Yes No 86.6%
Yes
No
86.6%
48%
48%
15.4%
15.4%

52% 48% 15.4%

Total

37% 63%

37%

63%

Inside Morocco

Outside Morocco

RESULTS

From the results of our survey, the consensus is that Morocco does indeed hold future potential within its IT sector, with a total of 63.2% agreeing with the statement. Professionals within the country are strongly positive - 86.6% feel their country holds potential for the future. When looking at respondents outside of Morocco, negativity levels rise, with just under half (48%) disagreeing with the statement. This may be due to a lack of knowledge of the country since the focus on neighbouring Egypt.

For respondents from within the country, the overarching reasoning for the positivity seemed to stem from the range of changes the country has seen in recent years. One interviewee explained:

If you look at the mass of structuring projects that Morocco is launching TGV, Highways, Pipeline stations, seawater desalting, renewable energies, the use of social networks, the evolution of the GSM networks, the average age of its

population and the educational level of its population, Morocco can only rejoice for the future.

People also cited a young, tech savvy generation that is eager to learn, and a slowly improving political landscape as positives. One respondent talked about the difference he has seen in the country over the years:

Since my return to Morocco in 2010, I have seen growth in a sector that is excited by an increase in the user demand. During my last 25 years IT experience in Australia and Saudi Arabia, Morocco has moved very fast in this field to reach

the developed countries.

Outside the country, Morocco’s proximity to Europe and its relatively cheap wages & educated workforce
Outside the country, Morocco’s proximity to Europe and its relatively cheap wages & educated workforce

Outside the country, Morocco’s proximity to Europe and its relatively cheap wages & educated workforce were quoted by several people, with one commenting:

They are the bridge to Europe and they speak French as their second language. There are a well-educated people and

they have a big chance to support IT for all French-speaking African countries. Today in Casablanca there are many call

centres giving support to French-speaking countries and I am sure they will go on with improvement.

Growing political stability and good infrastructure were also important influences. “When you visit Morocco you will be amazed with the infrastructure that the country has which is one of the best in Africa and Middle East, so for sure this country one of the leading countries in the region; add to that political stability which Moroccans are enjoying.”

Doubters however, worried that though a force in Africa, the requirements of a European playing field would be too much. “Morocco is a major player in the African market; however the country lacks the necessary infrastructure and funds to rise as a communication leader.” Doubts over the country’s politics, education of the workforce and a lack of innovation were also mentioned.

BACKGROUND

Nestled in North Africa’s Western tip, Morocco is often overshadowed by Egypt’s reputation as a leader in technology. But for many the country is on the up, and may be on its way to stepping into the light.

As with much of Africa, a digital divide exists that prevents many of the poorest from joining the modern, connected world. According to a report from the Open Society Foundations, “Internet access is still restricted to urban areas and educated categories in cities.” It explains how “Morocco hasn’t yet joined digitisation, given that there has been only partial migration to digital communication.”

Internet growth 2000-2012

[Source: InternetWorldStats] Morocco 16,378% Egypt 6,524% Middle East 2640%
[Source: InternetWorldStats]
Morocco
16,378%
Egypt
6,524%
Middle East
2640%

But despite this, Morocco can be seen something of a leader

in African internet; the first country in North Africa to install

a 3G network, and it’s in the process of awarding 4G licences

with the aim of being operational by the end of this year. This

is in conjunction with a ten-year infrastructure development

plan to give the country’s entire population access to high-speed, fixed or mobile broadband by 2022. According to Internet World Stats, around half of the country’s 32 million people have internet access - the third highest in Africa.

As with much of the continent, mobile and internet are closely linked in Morocco. Mobile penetration is over 100%, according to IT News Africa, and more than 80% of the broadband market is mobile. At one point MT’s ADSL broadband service held over 90% of the internet market, but the introduction of 3G opened up the market and promoted competition. As of a year ago, there were over 600,000 smartphones in Morocco [up to date figures are hard to come by], but estimated annual growth is more than 200%.

All this internet use has yet to translate into a massive social media culture. According to Socialbakers, Morocco has just under 5 million Facebook users, equating to around 15% of the population, while Twitter claims just 35,000, or 0.1% of people in the country. Surprisingly, since LinkedIn became available in March, it has shot up to 400,000 users. The Moroccan government is being proactive on technology. The “Digital Morocco 2013” strategy envisages nationwide access to high-speed internet by 2013, bringing the administration closer to the needs of the user through an ambitious e-government programme, and encouraging the computerization of SMEs. The government has also

Country

Rank

Country Rank introduced projects in an effort to enhance the digital skills of small business owners.
Country Rank introduced projects in an effort to enhance the digital skills of small business owners.

introduced projects in an effort to enhance the digital skills of small business owners. Students also benefit, with plans for Wi-fi at universities, and subsidized laptop and internet costs.

Back in 2005, King Mohammed VI launched the “Technopolis” project, a 300 hectare, multi-million dollar technology city near Sale. Companies now based at the tech hub include digital security company Gemalto, Nemotek, Novec, HP, and Axa. The launch of such a big, new project was how Morocco announced itself to the wider world of technology. Today the country is trying to establish itself as a major player in African technology; government plans and investment from the Middle East are helping push things forward.

These efforts seem to be paying off already; IBM has recently opened a second office in the Kingdom. Abdallah Rachidi Alaoui, IBM General Manager Morocco, has said the company emphasises its investment in Morocco because it recognises the opportunities presented by high growth rates and an increasingly competitive market.

“By strengthening our presence in Rabat, we are able to offer the most advanced technologies and solutions to our local partners and clients - helping them to do things smarter and more efficiently,” he adds. Rabat is also taking part in IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge, with the aim of devising a plan for a more efficient and better integrated transportation system. “IBM is strongly committed to helping cities improve themselves, and through this initiative will provide its best talent and expertise to help the city of Rabat develop smarter solutions for urban transport,” said Abdallah.

Innovation Ranking

[Source: Global Innovation Index]

88 th

103

119

124

rd

th

th

Global Innovation Index] 88 t h 103 119 124 r d t h t h MAR
MAR
MAR
EGY
EGY
MLI
MLI
ALG
ALG

Northern Africa has historically always had ties to the Middle East, and looks to be integral to the future of Morocco. And following Gitex Technology Week recently, links between the two are predicted to grow in strength and number. Etihad Airways own a large share of its flag carrier Royal Air Maroc, while Qtel have expressed interest in purchasing a controlling stake in Morocco’s largest telecom operator.

CONCLUSION

Morocco’s proximity to Europe combined with modern infrastructure means the country well poised for an IT boom in the future. The government is taking proactive steps to embrace technology and grows its IT sector, and competition in communication is increasing, which helps to reduce the digital divide. Though our small study polled only a handful of business & IT professionals, it shows there is a positive sentiment on the future of Morocco, especially for those within the country. Problems with restrictive freedoms and cybercrime are present, but overall things seem to be on a positive trend.

ABOUT IDG CONNECT

IDG Connect is the demand generation division of International Data Group (IDG), the world’s largest technology media company. Established in 2005, it utilises access to 38 million business decision makers’ details to unite technology marketers with relevant targets from any country in the world. Committed to engaging a disparate global IT audience with truly localised messaging, IDG Connect also publishes market specific thought leadership papers on behalf of its clients, and produces research for B2B marketers worldwide. For more information visit: