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    What Does The Future Hold for Morocco’s Startups and Digital Economy?

    Recent reports indicate that with the world moving towards an increasingly digital future, the digital sector will prove essential for Morocco’s economy.

    11 Oct 2021

    Rabat - As Morocco’s economy grows larger and more prominent regionally and beyond, the most pressing question that is often asked is about the next step for the Kingdom.

    As the world’s economy has steadily moved towards a more digital direction during the 21st century, to the point where the world’s biggest companies center around digital and online services, it seems that developing this sector is the next logical step for Morocco as well.

    This is already happening. Morocco’s digital ecosystem and economy has seen several improvements and growth, whether it is from already established multi-nationals entering the market, or through entirely new business and projects started by Moroccans themselves.

    And yet, as the country enters a crucial period for this transition, there are a lot of questions to be asked.

    So what does the future look like for all of these digital companies and startups in Morocco? What are the shortcomings of the environment and the system at this time? And what can be done to improve it further?

    How important can it be anyways?

    The signs are all there to see that Morocco is clearly in the middle of this digital transformation.

    From local giants like Marjane embracing their apps and e-commerce platforms more, to new startups showing up all over the country to fill gaps in several markets.

    For instance, Michael Page, an international recruitment agency, released a report earlier this year concluding that the digital revolution and stronger digital services will be key to improving Morocco’s economy and job market after the COVID-19 recovery phase.

    The acknowledgement of this importance can also be seen in the appointment of Ghita Mezzour to be the new Delegate Minister for Digital Transition and Administration Reform.

    For the government to now have an entire seat to ease the digital transformation shows just how important the sector is for the country going forward.

    There is also the expansion of several international businesses that are focused on the digital sector of the economy, such as BCG Platinition, which opened a hub in Casablanca earlier this year, citing the rapid digitization of Morocco specifically and Africa at large.

    “We believe in the untapped potential of Morocco in the digital revolution,” BCG Managing Director Norbert Faure told MWN, “and BCG Platinion will actively play a role in contributing to the country as we aim to build onto the region’s existing capabilities.”

    The shortcomings

    Despite the manifest transformations Morocco has been experiencing, the country still suffers many shortcomings in the sector. While it can be argued that the Kingdom is looking to iron out these very shortcomings through the importance it places on digital transformation, they are still worth taking a good look at.

    The most striking and important of these challenges is Morocco’s digital infrastructure, which may not yet be ready to harbor all the potential businesses and ventures to their full extent.

    For example, the British cybersecurity firm Surfshark ranked Morocco 84th worldwide in its latest Digital Quality of Life Index. Surfshark specifically attributed Morocco’s ranking to, among a few other weaknesses, a weak and not yet refined digital infrastructure, including digital government services.

    Another weakness can be seen in the lack of support for startups and new projects by the government or other funding sources.

    Hamza Ait Bamoh, a university student who worked to conceptualize a new digital inventory system for retail companies, faced one such case. With his team, the young student struggled - and ultimately failed - to get adequate funding from appropriate government channels to display their invention abroad.

    “If you go to see what Europe, what America, what China has achieved in technology, they’re 20 years ahead,” Hamza told MWN, commenting on the shortcomings of Morocco in this sector. “Artificial intelligence projects in particular have the potential to be really revolutionary,” he added.

    How to support this sector

    To a certain extent, this new digital economy will experience natural growth over a period of time. As tech adoption rates increase among the population and services like broadband internet become better and more affordable, we will see more businesses show up and more people adopt their services.

    But is there anything that bigger entities like government agencies can do?

    As previously discussed, Morocco’s new Ministry of Digital Transformation could play a key role here. Through improving digital services on a government level, and providing more support to budding digital services, the process of digitization can be vastly improved and accelerated.

    We are starting to see more and more of this support on the ground, too.

    The Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (MCISE) recently held its 'Tatwir- Startup' program that aims to develop local digital projects with the participation of 450 startup projects.

    The program was launched by the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and the Green and Digital Economy, again signaling a growing commitment to the cause of developing this relatively new sector in Morocco.

    Private firms and support groups are also starting to play an increasingly important role in supporting projects like this one.

    The aforementioned BCG Platinion is one of these companies. In an interview with Morocco World News, BCG Platinion’s managing director, Norbert Faure, reaffirmed that his company’s goal is to play a front-row role in accelerating the digital transition in Morocco and at the regional level.

    “Through BCG Platinion’s projected work in the region, partnering companies will flourish in their adoption of digital solutions, thus causing a ripple effect, both directly and indirectly affecting the local Moroccan start-up ecosystem and culture through gained knowledge, resources, and motivation,” Faure said.

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