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Statement by the Secretary of State of Morocco

Policy Statement
H. E. Mr. Nasr Hajji
Secretary of State in charge of Post, Telecommunication 
and Information Technologies 
The Kingdom of Morocco

Monday, 18 March 2002


Mr. Chairman,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

The world is witnessing a revolution: we are moving from industrial society to post-industrial society. This latter takes today the shape of a society of information, of the immaterial and of knowledge.

Forecasts and projections of analysts and "visionaries" only two decades ago, become a reality today. Actual developments have largely confirmed and went even beyond forecasts.

Everyday we have the opportunity to observe this fact. This new society is sharply characterised by developing fundamental scientific and technical features on the one hand and by its institutional evolution on the other. The most significant technical aspect in this trend towards this new society is convergence. The ongoing digital revolution which consists in changing a message of any kind (text, voice, data, sound, fixed or animated images) into a digital signal, differentiates these various messages only through their debit. Communication is then endowed with one universal language. This technical convergence implies and forcibly induces convergence in technologies, working methods and finally internationalising economic prospects.

The trend of internationalisation of the modern economy has surely been impulsed by the setting up of economic bodies at the international level derived from Bretton-Woods agreements in 1944 (The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund), and then by the creation and enforcement in 1948 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). However, it is the accelerated development of information and communication technologies which allowed the building up of the core of present world economy characterised by:

  • Emerging world networks of production and information;

  • Unprecedented booming of markets and financial influxes;

  • Free trade generalisation;

  • And services de-localisation.

In the communication society in the process, the fundamental resource of services and immaterial activities becomes information and its many components: production, processing, transmission and dissemination. This society is announcing the era of knowledge which becomes the source of economic power and people and nations wealth.

The intrinsic weight of activities directly related to communication and information is reaching, in high income countries, 10% of the GDP. In these countries, the weight of scientific and technological components (research and development, training and engineering) is reaching 15% of the GDP. Thus, activities directly related to knowledge, information and communication, put together, make 25% of GDP in developed countries. In such conditions, we are truly moving towards a society of knowledge, information and the immaterial.

Generalisation of technologies of information and communication has carried the emerging new economy, within the longstanding cycle of growth towards society of information.

Unfortunately, the intrinsic weight of activities related to information and communication technologies remains too much unequally distributed among countries and even within the same countries. If we consider that the Internet is undoubtedly the bearing network of the new economy, it is observed that a large digital divide may be deepened among developed and developing countries. The percentage of internet goers vary between 20 and 70% for the first category of countries while it remains less than 2% for the second category of countries. As information and communication technologies represent today the major factor of world economy expansion, it is to fear that the digital gap leads to serious economic and social divides, between and even within countries, whether they are developed or developing.

The present post-industrial revolution makes us move from one world to another with fundamental change in fields such as the techno-sphere, info-sphere, socio-sphere and the sphere of power. The ongoing revolution is much more rapid than the industrial revolution and the mature process towards the new society will take only a few generations. It deeply transforms the political and cultural, social and economic structures. It induces radical change in the relationship to knowledge and culture. In final analysis, it touches upon the relationship to power.

In more concrete terms, post-industrial society takes today the shape of the society of information, of the immaterial and of knowledge.

All such changes are going on in an environment whereby expansion of the market economy at world scale and the development of world networks of production and information induce an unprecedented growth of trade, showing that globalisation is a qualitatively new phase of the process of internationalisation.

In such conditions, liberalising services has become a central stake as indicated by the Uruguay Round negotiations and by the agreement later concluded within the framework of the World Trade Organisation. These agreements signed in Geneva on February 15, 1997 brought about complete openness to competitiveness of telecommunication services markets. They mark the progressive end of monopolies on telecommunication services. Any player of telecommunication services should have the ability to freely offer such services in countries others than his country of origin.

Since January 1998, telecommunication markets of most countries of the European Union are completely open to competitiveness. In Asia and Latin America, the end of monopolies is scheduled between 2000 and 2002.

Such radical changes in the sector of telecommunications have favoured the emergence of new players in this field and increased their number. To give an example, there exists presently more than 450 GSM providers around the world.

In this perspective, the International Union of Telecommunications which was set up in 1865 in Paris in an environment characterised by the State management of telecommunications finds itself in extreme obligation to develop and adapt itself to this new environment under the coinage of an international body for the information society of the 21st century.

Morocco, on its part, has felt such revolutionary change many years ago since the National Board for Post and Telecommunications was created at the beginning of the 80’s enjoying a large autonomy in managing the telecommunication sector. Later, and within the deregulation and liberalisation of this sector, Morocco, by Act 24-96 passed by the parliament on June 29th, 1997, and enforced on August 7, 1997, has opened the way to liberalising telecommunications.

This process has started with the implementation of the parliamentary Act in 1998 with the objective of complete liberalisation at the end of 2002. The first step in liberalising telecommunications has been taken by introducing in 2000 a second player, Méditelecom, (Telefonica, Portugal Telecom and a Moroccan Banking Group) in mobile telephony. This has resulted in an outstanding expansion. The number of subscribers of mobile telephone went from less than 250 000 at end of 1999 to about 5 million in February 2002 with 78% share for IAM (the historic company) and 22% share for Méditelecom company. This reflects for the year 2001 and for both companies an increase by 15 times of the mobile subscribers.

Morocco is now putting down and applying, thanks to the willingness clearly stated by the highest authorities of the State, the "national strategy for inserting Morocco in the information and knowledge society", E-Maroc.

In order to secure a successful outcome of such strategy, a global and integrated approach has been adopted in the field of telecommunications, computer science, the audio-visual sector, the multimedia and communication in general. Therefore, we fully use at optimum the convergence of technologies of information synergy and their complementarity within a strategic scope.

The primary foundations of this strategy have been laid down during the symposium "E-Maroc" organised in Rabat in April 2001. In applying this strategy, three dates are fundamental landmarks: 2002, 2005, 2010.

At end of 2002, Morocco should set up all policies and fundamental elements and mechanisms of necessary environment and operationality to implement at high speed E-Maroc strategy and for accelerating expansion.

In 2005, and as intermediary step, Morocco has set the objective of reaching the standards of emerging countries in the field of technologies of information and communication.

In 2010, Morocco should fully integrate the European space and be harmoniously and competitively inserted into globalisation. Consequently, Morocco’s standards should tend towards the norms of the technologies of information and communication applied in the European space.

The five fundamental axis of "E-Maroc" are as follows:

  • Generalising technologies of information and communication,

  • Rapid deployment of technologies of information,

  • Accelerating liberalisation and competitiveness,

  • Redefining the role of the State,

  • Opting for the means for "E-Maroc" strategy.

In Morocco, examples of the outstanding expansion of mobile telephones and satellite T.V. plates give creditworthiness to the objectives aimed at for steps 2005 and 2010. Indeed, Moroccans are eager to adopt the new technologies once their costs are reasonable.

Competitiveness and Act 24-96 on telecommunications have had as a result and indeed in a short time, the ability to move in 2002 from a few 10 000 to 3 million satellite plates and from 250 000 to 5 million mobile telephones. One could reasonably hope that the same trigger accompanied with appropriate novel and boldly taken measures will make us move from 300 000 presently Internet goers to 3 million in 2005 and to 10 million in 2010.

One must add that the outstanding expansion of the mobile in Morocco in a very short span of time was combined with the coverage of the largest area of the country showing cost constantly decreasing in favour of the user.

This experience, in its institutional framework is rightly considered as a model and reference in Arab and African countries.

Within this radical technological change, Morocco has the privilege to welcome the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference. Following Kyoto in 1994 and Minneapolis in 1998, Africa’s turn has come now through Morocco’s extended invitation to organise this important gathering in Marrakech from September 23rd to October 18, 2002.

Preparations for this Conference are marked by visits of a number of delegations to Morocco and to Marrakech. To show the high interest in which Morocco holds the International Telecommunication Union, I should recall here the visit paid by ITU Secretary General, Mr Yoshio UTSUMI to Morocco in October 2000 and his meeting with His Majesty King Mohammed VI.

All the arrangements and measures are taken for insuring full success of this Conference. Preparations are well ahead in Marrakech to welcome delegates and guests in the best conditions. This legend city is now a privileged place for international gatherings; it has welcomed inter alia in 1994, the ministerial meeting of the former GATT which is now the World Trade Organisation, and very recently in November 2001, the meeting of COP 7 on climate change.

In order to fully associate the private sector with this event of world scale and to create opportunities to impulse and enlarge debates on present problems which are not included in the limited framework of PP-02, Morocco proposes the organisation of an Exhibit and a Forum parallel to PP-02.

The Exhibit will be a shop-window to show the latest equipments and trends of technologies which ascertain the changes towards the society of information. This exhibit will be planned in such a way as to be a privileged place for establishing working relationships and business ties among the major world players, users and industrialists in the field of technologies of information and communication.

The Forum on the other hand will be a desk allowing for touching upon debates beyond agenda items for PP-02, and for discussing subjects of present time such as the society of information and the digital gap. In order to impulse debates and proposals, great world leaders of the sector whether they belong to the economic or political sphere as well as eminent thinkers will be invited to take part in the forum.

The Forum discussion and work, in presence and with the participation of world players most concerned by such topics of priority, should end with a "Declaration of Marrakech Forum". The forum work and the final declaration will constitute a source of inspiration and will lay down significant highways of reflection and thought preparing activities of the "World Summit on the Information Society" scheduled to take place in two parts, in Switzerland by 2003 and in Tunisia by 2005.

It will be an honour for Arab countries that one of them, Morocco, be the first to welcome the ITU Plenipotentiary Conference . This gathering will take place within deep technological changes, a constraint for ITU to make further effort for adaptation to this environment.

Everyday we observe further that the ongoing great changes are not due only to the novelty of technologies, but essentially due to the fact that the combination and impact of new technologies have ended in modelling a society of information and knowledge which everyday contrasts sharply with the industrial society.

In this framework, we believe that ITU should not be cut off from such changes running the risk to be confined to a secondary role.

Therefore, ITU objectives should be of two categories:

  • Capitalising on acquisitions and strongholds of ITU and opening on new prospects allowing all inhabitants of this planet to benefit from technologies of information and communication through a global approach to the society of information and of the new economy.

  • Taking new initiatives allowing ITU for playing a first hand role in the society of information. For so doing, ITU should show a great capacity of adaptation and flexibility.

  • Enlarging its activities should constitute a common future project and a major stake of partnership between the public and the private sectors; this combination of interests and competence will preserve and strengthen ITU role.

Morocco takes part within the League of Arab States in preparing proposals for the Marrakech Conference in order to give ITU ways and means to adapt to its environment.

Within the development of information society, Morocco will make a request to the Conference, that is the initiation of a pilot project concerning the extension and development of the content of a national network which will be, in our view, the primary foundation for integrating the information society.

Finally Morocco, the host country of PP-02 and the traditional land for dialogue, is open to any proposal and is ready to discuss in a spirit of positiveness any kind of suggestion.

The Marrakech Plenipotentiary Conference in 2002 is the first to be held in the 21st century or more symbolically, in the 3rd millennium.

The Marrakech Conference is indeed timely in order to take final decisions on important issues remained outstanding since Minneapolis 1998 or Kyoto 1994. The Conference will be the good opportunity for ITU to take relevant resolutions which will make out of it the world technical body of reference in the society of information and knowledge.

The Conference is also timely because it allows Arab countries and the African continent to directly move from the stage of development to a stage of sustainable development through an active participation to the society of information and knowledge.

Morocco remains fully mobilised and will spare no effort, in conjunction and with the participation of all concerned parties for insuring full success to the ITU Marrakech Plenipotentiary Conference.

I thank you for your attention and already welcome you to Morocco.



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Updated : 2002-06-13