Morocco's internet market shows only slow growth

Regardless of the competitive ISP market, the low monthly income holds back the proliferation of the internet in Morocco.

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By  Greg Wilson Published  April 1, 2003

Low internet and PC penetration remain major hurdles to the internet revolution in Morocco. According to statistics from the Arab Advisors Group, the number of service subscribers was just 60,000 at the end of 2002.

Although the proliferation of internet cafes in the country has driven the number of internet users to around 300,000 — a penetration of 1% — low monthly income has handicapped the growth of the market.

“The internet market in Morocco is highly competitive. The number of licensed ISPs in the country is in continuous growth with the internet cafes dominating the service providers’ base. ISPs and internet Cafes in Morocco need to acquire a similar internet declaration from the ANRT to start operations,” says Arab Advisors Group’s senior analyst, Hala Baqain.

Regardless of the low level of internet users in the country, the number of debit and credit cards is increasing substantially year-on-year, which “bodes well” for the e-commerce landscape, adds Baqain.

The failure during to 2002 to find a licensee for the fixed line market has delayed the introduction of competition in the datacomms market. Arab Advisors Group believes competition will materialise sometime during 2003.

“The public datacomm network (PDN) service is still a monopoly. Competition in the datacomm market was scheduled to materialise in 2002 as an incentive to the second fixed licensee; however, it failed with the failure of the tender. The Arab Advisors Group projects competition in the datacomm market to occur in 2003,” explains Baqain.

The incumbent operator, Marco Telecom, is scheduled to introduce broadband ADSL later this year. The operator is currently piloting ADSL services. Other ISPs have been invited to share in the trials for the launch of the service.

Although internet and datacomms situation appears far from flattering, the government is embarking on a comprehensive information & communication technology (ICT) initiative. The government’s IT strategy will focus on five core areas — education, governce, private sector development, e-commerce and access.

“These themes formed the basis for the Moroccan national strategy for IT development and was called e-Maroc plan,” adds Baqain.

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