Digital transformation: the digital boom in Morocco: yes, but…

lSomething has been won: the new company has thus created a department that is responsible for the digital transition. Evidence that awareness has increased, especially since its scope also includes administrative reform. So a digital project; it should now be used as a lever for development, as Deputy Minister Ghita Mezzour reminds us. Is there a strategy? There is talk of “valorization of the digital sector, of federation of the actors of the ecosystem as well, of creating a global dynamic for this”. What about the truth? In other words, if the objectives for the current term of office until 2026 are well defined, there remain the conditions and methods for achieving them and thus for their implementation in public policy.

The achievements are not lacking, placing Morocco among the “African tech champions”, especially in the following areas: connectivity, telecom, internet access (34 million internet users), e-commerce,… It is one of the vectors and transformers to initiate the new development model (NMD). A lever for change. And development. digital? It helps build trust between citizens, businesses and the state. How ? By improving the state-citizen and state-business relationship based on simplified and clarified procedures, not to mention better quality of service.

digital nation?

Challenges to overcome. The first relates to a digital transformation strategy. It will eventually have an impact by changing society, lifestyle and daily behavior. Digital is a factor of production and competitiveness. A first attempt has been made to digitize public services. The law dates from 2019; it took some time to be applied. As proof, operational measures were only taken at the beginning of this year 2022: investigation of 3,832 proceedings in the public administration, publication of 2,700 of them on the site “Idarati.ma”, withdrawal of 800 others without legal basis… Question: how did we get to such a dysfunction in administrative management? Mystery. Progress has been made and it seems that a dynamic is driving the digital transition, both in the administrations and in the local communities, in an undoubtedly differentiated way depending on the area, sometimes even with “low noise” for some of them. In the same vein, it should be noted that a program of interest to 10,000 people has been launched, which aims to strengthen the skills of civil servants in the field of digitization. Other challenges need to be addressed: the modernization of fixed and mobile high-speed and high-speed digital infrastructures, with their extension to the whole territory – thus guaranteeing the right of access for all citizens; the development of digital platforms that deliver all services to citizens and businesses; training skills that can bring digital transformation to the field; and the completion of the legal and regulatory framework, also taking into account the digital sovereignty of the Kingdom.

Economic challenge

The problem is also economic. The digital industry today represents a whopping 25% of the global economy; current forecasts increase it to 40% by 2030-2025. Morocco must redouble its efforts to fit into this process. So far, the right path has been taken. Several indicators bear witness to this: the 4% of the telecommunications sector in GDP in 2020; turnover of DH 35 billion at the end of 2021; the “boom” of offshoring with more than 120,000 jobs linked to the industrial acceleration plan and investments of about 1.5 billion dirhams. We should also mention the financial sector that is part of the same trend. For example, the tech sector on the Casablanca Stock Exchange has been one of the best performing for years. The mobilization around the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic has been a factor and vector of acceleration and expansion by offering procedures and solutions marked with the seal of innovation. At the 14th edition of the National Prize for Electronic Administration “e-mtiaz 2021”, organized by the dedicated ministerial department, certain administrations stood out: Ministry of Economy and Finance, National Portal of Local Authorities (Ministry of Interior), CDG, National Register of Transferable Guarantees (Ministry of Justice), Electronic service for filing complaints from the Public Prosecutor’s Office), platform diw@nati (administration of customs and indirect taxes).

The EESC has raised this issue in a recent report. It calls for the digitization of all administrative proceduresby 2025. He estimates that this modernization could save 10 billion DH, or almost 1% of GDP. He also noted that the ICT sector must expect a sharp increase of around 10% in 2026-2027. Last January we remember that the brand “Morocco Tech” was officially launched, with great ambitions. This is a mobilizing challenge: to place Morocco in the first set of global digital marketplaces. More than a brand: a vision, a commitment, a dynamic ecosystem, the release of human potential and a social project. There are many carriers of ideas and projects: it is up to the government to support them!

A revolution in motion…

digital? It’s a revolution in motion – it won’t stop, far from it. You have to prepare for it. How ? The so-called “Sovereign Cloud” model is one of the approaches to prioritizing. It is about giving preference to outsourcing to Moroccan operators. Governments and companies must address this as a matter of priority. The health crisis open since March 2020 has pushed strongly in this direction. We owe this expression to Ahmed Iraqi (Advisory Systems Engineer Morocco and West Africa, Dell Technologies), during the last Matinales of the Le Matin Group. In his view, “the cloud is the oil of this century and data is our key to progress”. This requires that investments in the Cloud are one of the strategic priorities based on outsourcing to Moroccan operators who master the technology. This practice is making little progress, in contrast to strong international growth. Major public institutions, groups, banks and financial companies invest in it. That is not yet the case for SMEs… The State must deal with this situation. At the same time, regional alliances must be forged, with Africa at the forefront.

It’s an ecosystem that needs to be set up. strengthen. And to expand, and this on the basis of certainty and trust. Certainly, the success of digital transformation requires inclusive governance involving all stakeholders. The president of the Association of Users of Information Systems in Morocco (Ausim), Hichem Chiguer, advocates in this direction. And to call for what he calls a co-construction of a vision, a solid relationship of trust between the dedicated department, the federations, the institutions and the professional associations, finally listening to the needs of the community. Technological solutions are thus sold by operators to companies. These increase the costs of setting up the Cloud; others doubt its real relevance. Awareness is being raised to emphasize data security and cloud performance, in terms of competitiveness. In the same perspective, it is necessary to note the place of dematerialization with the electronic signature. For this, a legal arsenal has been set up that secures electronic transactions – it validates the electronic signature in the same way as the handwritten signature. A continuous construction. Permanently. A different world in perpetuum mobile where agility and innovation are paramount. A great national ambition…

By Mustapha SEHIMI Professor of Law, Political Scientist

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