H. E. Mr. Nasr Hajji
Secretary of State in charge of Post, Telecommunication
and Information Technologies
The Kingdom of Morocco
Monday, 18 March 2002
«MOROCCO AS PART OF THE INFORMATION AND KNOWLEDGE SOCIETY»
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Generalising technologies of information and
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
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
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
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
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