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Morocco - leaving the others behind

July 2002

Morocco’s impressive telecommunication breakthrough is an excellent example of today’s worldwide liberalization and transformation process. Morocco decided to make the telecommunication sector one of its national priorities under the aegis of His Late Majesty King Hassan II. Since the Post Office and Telecommunication Act (Law 24-96) was adopted in 1997 the restructuring of its sector has been highly successful. The National Post Office and Telecommunication Agency (Office National des Postes et des Télécommunications, ONPT) was split into two separate entities: a telecommunication entity called Maroc Télécom and a postal-services entity called Postes Maroc. The government also established an independent regulatory agency, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Agency (Agence nationale de réglementation des télécommunications, ANRT).[1] These reforms, backed by the political will that has been evident in the implementation and monitoring at the government level, have created a stable environment, with clear rules and a high level of confidence. At the economic level, this has manifested itself in the form of major investments by foreign companies in Morocco's telecommunication market. Vivendi Universal paid Dirhams 23 billion (US$ 2.3 billion) for a 35% equity stake in Maroc Télécom. The privatization of the country’s incumbent telecom operator is regarded as one of the most successful ones in a developing country to date. In July 1999 Médi Telecom consortium paid US$ 1.1 billion to obtain the country’s second GSM license, the highest amount ever for a developing country mobile license.

By August 2000, just six months after the second operator was launched, there were more cellular than fixed telephone subscribers in Morocco. Both mobile service providers have done extremely well and substantially increased their subscriber numbers. Whereas the telephone density was barely five per cent prior to liberalization, Morocco swiftly progressed to eight per cent teledensity for fixed telephone service and 15 per cent teledensity for mobile telephone service. The mobile telephone network now reaches more than 95 per cent of the population and the number of subscribers quadrupled during the six-month period up to May 2000, and tripled again, to 4.8 million subscribers between the two operators at the end of 2001. These figures exceed all public- and private-sector estimates at the time the second GSM license was being awarded. Liberalization and privatization of telecommunication services in Morocco have contributed and continue to contribute to GDP growth and have had a major impact on investment levels, job creation and productivity. And the string of success seems to be continuing: Maroc Télécom has announced impressive results for the year 2001, with a 17 per cent growth in revenue.[2]

The developments in Morocco are especially impressive from a regional perspective. Despite the fact that Morocco has the region’s lowest GDP per capita, its liberalized telecom environment has allowed it to take the region’s lead in the mobile sector. In only a few years it has gone from the region’s lowest telephone access levels to its highest. It has also been a very encouraging example to its neighbors. Algeria, witnessing Morocco’s success, auctioned a second mobile license in 2001 and Tunisia will follow soon.[3]

Given the great success of mobile services, both Moroccan mobile operators have been preparing for the launch of GPRS services, which provides high speed access to the Internet over mobile phones.

Morocco’s Internet penetration has been increasing steadily and stands at around 1.6 per cent, with some 400’000 users in 2001. The vast majority of users access the Internet either at one of the almost 2000 Internet cafés or at work since most people cannot afford the relatively high costs of a personal computer and the ISP subscription rates.[4] Several initiatives have been launched by the government to spread the availability and use of the Internet. The government-driven ‘Maroc Wide Area Network’ (MARWAN) project, a non-profit project to set up a sophisticated national network for the educational and research sector[5], is a great example of the government’s commitment to promote the Internet. To further increase the use and the benefits of the Internet, it will be important to lower the country’s relatively high ISP charges.

Morocco has done well in the digital revolution. Its rapid mobile growth serves as an example of how quickly access to communications can be transformed. This success will need to be emulated in other ICT sectors. The country’s young population (that speaks Arabic, French, and often English) and its entrepreneurial culture provide it with a good head start.

Morocco Facts and Figures

Socio-demographic indicators, Year 2000

Population: 28’705’000
       Urban: 55.2 %
       Female: 50.2 %

       Under 20 years old: 44%
       20-60: 49%
       Over 60 years old: 7%

Number of households: 5’211
Average household size: 5.5

Source: Direction de la Statistique (Morocco)

Human Development Indicators: Morocco compared to other North African economies

HDI Rank


Life expectancy at birth (years)

Adult literacy rate (%)

Combined school gross enrolment ratio
GDP per capita (PPP US$)
89 Tunisia 69.9 69.9 74 5’957
100 Algeria 69.3 66.6 72 5’063
105 Egypt 66.9 54.6 76 3’420
112 Morocco 67.2 48.0 52 3’419

Source: ITU.

Source: ITU.

Source: ITU.

Source: ITU.


[1] For an in-depth study on Morocco’s regulatory environment, please see the ITU's Effective Regulation Case Study: Morocco, 2001, which was carried out by the Sector Reform Unit.

[2] See “Morocco: The Making of a Juggernaut”, Pyramid Research. Perspective. January 7, 2002.

[3] See Tunisia: Government Determination Marks New GSM License Tender. Pyramid Research. Perspective. February 6, 2002.

[4] See Cyberatlas. ‘Marocco’s Online Population’. Michael Pastore, May 2001, at,1323,5911_166081,00.html.

[5] For more information on MARWAN, see


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Updated : 2007-08-28