The World Bank views broadband as an ecosystem consisting of various
components that needs to be in harmony for the broadband market to be healthy and
An enabling environment is necessary to promote supply-side growth as well as to
facilitate demand. The Moroccan government has implemented regulations to open up
the local loop in an effort to create greater supply of broadband connections and
has also developed a number of programs to increase access. It has also promoted
e-Government through several strategic plans with the aim of developing e-services
to encourage citizens and businesses to interact with it online.
4.2.1 Tariff guidelines
At the time of
writing this report, a set of tariff guidelines produced by ANRT in August 2010
is still ongoing with the aim of establishing a regulatory framework around retail
pricing, paying special attention to the newest operator which may not benefit from
the same reach and longevity as the incumbents. With these guidelines, ANRT will
be monitoring four major practices that it will consider unlawful:*
- The squeeze effect
resulting in tariffs that cannot be replicated by competitors in a manner that will
be economically viable. It is strategy by which a vertically integrated operator
sets its tariffs below the cost level of a reference operator.
- Predatory pricing practiced by an operator that exposes
the competition to a reduction of their margin and as such is apt to exclude them
from the market.
- Abusive bundling is taking advantage of the ability to provide
the sale of two or more different services that cannot be replicated by competition,
affects the interest of the client, comprises the commercialization of competitor
offers, and reduces demand for competitor products.
- Unfair cross-subsidization where an operator
uses profits from one service to subsidize losses in another service.
purposes to protect against the potential domination of one operator over the other,
especially the one with greatest cliental network and financial leverage. The above
prohibitions of practices would cover voice, data, messaging and other data transmission services
over telephone, mobile and data networks.
4.2.2 Local Loop Unbundling
In an effort to promote competition,
ANRT prioritized the issue of local loop unbundling as early as 2004 through a decision
resulting in negotiations with the incumbent Maroc Telecom which needed to provide
technical specifications about its legacy copper infrastructure and pricing options
for operator access. However it was not until an order from the Prime Minister that
dates were set for implementation of local loop unbundling – with partial unbundling
expected by January 2007 and full unbundling by July 2008.*
A final agreement on full unbundling was reached on December 27, 2007 after a series
of correspondence between ANRT and Maroc Telecom. This also included new modifications
to pricing of partial unbundling.*
Under ANRT oversight,
the monthly costs that were decided upon for 2008 were competitive and favored affordable
operator access. The tariff structure is multi-layered, including costs relating
- Maroc Telecom intervention in case there is a problem,
- technical issues specific to shared access,
- the creation of specific applications in order to access the local loop,
- infrastructure (or entities) within Maroc Telecom to implement the local
- billing access to the local loop.
With the final agreement, Méditel and INWI’s expected monthly cost
to access high frequencies of the unbundled lines
(partial) was estimated at MAD 35, 30 percent less than what was initially agreed
upon for the year 2007. For full unbundling, the estimated cost was MAD 100, lower
than what Maroc Telecom charges its direct customers and what many incumbents in
Europe were charging their competitors.
Table 4-1 Universal Service Fund programs
Equipping 9,260 educational institutions with multi-media rooms and
Target: 6 million students
MAD 2 billion of which MAD 1 billion from is from the USF
Providing computers with mobile broadband to teachers
Target: 150,000 teachers
MAD 216 million (including support from the Mohammed VI Foundation)
Provision of digital equipment to universities and training institutions.
MAD 120 million
Provision of computers with mobile broadband to senior secondary school
Target: 80,000 students
MAD 246 million
Creation of community access centers that provide access to ICT
Target: 400 centers
MAD 80 million
Maroc Telecom was required to provide information about its subscribers as well
as specifications that pertain to its equipment sites enabling competitors to have
the option to either rent lines or share the physical infrastructure.*
This would give flexibility to the competitors in terms of lowering costs by running
their own lines through shared infrastructure. While these measures are deemed encouraging
for competitors, the impact of local loop unbundling on broadband has so far been
limited. As of June 2011, Maroc Telecom had a 99.8 percent share of the ADSL market.
In addition, while
local loop unbundling can be useful policy for promoting broadband competition,
in the case of Morocco its relevance is also restricted. There are only 1.2 million
copper-based fixed lines of which 40% are already used for ADSL.
4.2.3 Universal access
A key objective of ANRT and the
Ministry of Industry, Commerce and New Technologies has been the promotion of universal
access. It is also a fundamental strategy of Digital Morocco where extending
citizen access to broadband is viewed as an essential ingredient for social transformation.
As mentioned earlier, a Universal
Service Fund (USF) was created in Law 55-01 requiring all operators to allocate
two percent of revenue. This meant that a fund would be available for incentivizing
infrastructure development in remote and hard to reach areas. If operators invest
in those areas on their own, the amount they spent is reduced from their USF contribution
(“Pay or play”).
In 2007, the “PACTE” program (2008-2011)
was approved by a special commission in charge of universal service. The program,
which is the largest financed by the USF intends to address coverage of 9,263 locations
classified as “white areas,” of which 50 percent are listed under the National Initiative
for Human Development (Initiative
Nationale pour le Développement Humain, INDH).* These areas belong to 55 regions and
841 communes of the territory, including 2.3 million habitants or approximately
17% of the rural population in Morocco. The budget for this is activity is estimated
at MAD 1.44 billion. By the end of the PACTE program it is envisaged that essentially
all populated areas will have mobile coverage, up from 97.5% of the population in
For the period of 2008-2013, the
remaining allocation of the USF (around 60 percent) is disbursed across five targeted
programs most of which relate to provisioning schools and students with ICTs. In
addition there is a program to create 400 access centers as called for in Digital
Morocco (Table 4-1). According to ANRT orientation note, it is anticipated
that a study will be launched by the end of 2011 to establish guidelines for the
next stage of the program development including plans for Universal Service Fund
The majority of those using the Internet in Morocco are doing so
for entertainment purposes or for communication via email (Figure 4-1). Exchanging
videos and music, social networking and Internet telephony are main uses driving
people to broadband, averaging a combined increase of 29 percentage points in 2010.
There is no denying that social media is driving Internet usage
in the Middle East, particularly given the recent political events. According to
a 2011 study, in UAE and Qatar, almost 30 percent of the population is on Facebook.*
Egypt added two million Facebook users in four months. In Morocco, 67 percent of
the population that goes online does so for social networking. This is up almost
20 percentage points from 2009 and today the country has the third highest number
of Facebook users in the Arab world (Figure 4-2). With 79% of Moroccan Facebook
users between the ages of 15-29, there are three considerations when thinking about
the Internet market:
- The first is that given that most Internet users in Morocco are on some
kind of social networking platform with rich multimedia features, demand for better
quality in service will increase.
- Second, the majority of users driving broadband are between the ages of
15 and 29, an attractive audience for broadband market opportunities but also in
terms of finding ways of increasing usage of applications that impact their livelihoods.
- Finally, social media has pushed Morocco’s ahead many of its neighbors
in broadband usage and as such reveals a niche population ready to be networked
In contrast to entertainment activities, e-commerce usage by consumers
in Morocco is low. Only six percent of Internet users take advantage of online banking
or ordering goods over the Internet. In respect to purchasing goods over the Internet,
only 4% of surfers do this. The main reason given is that there is no need. This
is tied to 57% who say they do not purchase online because they cannot “touch” the
product. Security is also a concern with almost seven out of ten users.
There are several
domestically developed online payment services for Moroccan Internet users.
Maroc Telecommerce, an initiative of Moroccan banks, provides an e-commerce
platform where users can make online purchases and merchants can sell products and
services. Businesses use the service to open online stores after passing security
clearance and demonstrating financial capability in order to provide users with
confidence when making purchases.
Mobicash introduced in
2008 by Maroc Telecom is a mobile payment system. Users can transfer and receive
money from others, pay their Maroc Telecom bills or recharge their phones and use
their handsets to make purchases from authorized merchants.
The Moroccan government has promoted the vision of ICTs for transforming
public administration for a number of years. The government can be a leader by computerizing
its own operations as well as providing online services to stimulate broadband demand.
A number of initiatives have been launched but progress has been slow. One challenge
has been incentivizing the bureaucracy to adopt a greater public service perspective.
Successful projects include those that have been able to overcome ingrained resistance
through a proactive public administration such as in the city of Fez (Box 4-1)
Figure 4-1 Internet uses, Morocco, 2010
Figure 4-2 Share of Facebook users, Arab region, April 2011
Dubai School of Government)
Morocco developed a four-year e-government plan called IDARATI
(Informatisation des Départements
Administratifs et leur mise en Réseau Adéquate via les Technologies
de l'Information) covering the period 2005-2008.*
It was intended to leverage on government progress to date for example in establishing
a national portal and passing supporting legislation. By 2010, there were 370,000
visits to the citizen public administration portal and some 200 forms online.*
Figure 4-3 Moroccan e-Government targets (Source: Digital
E-government is a key pillar of the Digital Morocco strategy.
Concrete targets include increasing the number of e-government services from 16
in 2008 to 89 by 2013 (Figure 4-3). Additionally, the government is anticipating
that by 2013 all enterprises generating revenue of more than MAD 20 million annually
will be using transactional services. Other targets include raising the country’s
e-Government score in UN rankings and increasing the number of public administration
sites in the top Moroccan 100.
In order for the program to meet its objectives, a governing structure
was established with 15 flagship services to be implemented by 2011 and a timeline
for the completion of all targeted 89 e-Government services by 2013. The 89 e-government
services include 42 transactional, 30 informational, and 17 infrastructure related
applications. The focus is on delivery of transactional processes given that e-services
require direct interaction with citizens and enterprises to achieve their full utility.
It will be important to ensure that services available online are
also accessible in some alternative form so that all segments of population benefit.
There is a risk of exclusion when digitizing public services, especially if other
mediums of delivery are phased out before online access is universal.
4.5 Moroccans online
Figure 4-4 Internet users in Morocco and selected countries
Adapted from ANRT and regional communications authorities)
experienced major growth of the Internet over the last decade, reaching an estimated
14 million users by the end of 2010 or almost half the population (Figure 4-4, top).
When it reached one million in 2003, the majority were accessing via cybercafés.
The significance of these public spaces continues with 76 percent of users who access
the Internet outside of the home doing so via a cybercafé (approximately 8 million
As the country continued to push reforms with Law 55-01 in 2004 and the liberalizing
of fixed and cellular markets, the usage of Internet expanded. In particular, the
country experienced its highest Internet growth rates between the years2007-2009
which coincided with the deployment of 3G technologies by the three operators. As
a result, when compared to the rest of the region, the percentage of the online
population in Morocco exceeds most countries in the MENAregion including neighbors
Egypt and Tunisia (Figure 4-4, bottom).
Thirty-four percent of households have personal computers and 25
percent of households have broadband access at home, significantly higher than the
two percent in 2004. Of the households with Internet access, 78 percent use 3G with
a USB modem. Just over a fourth of households with electricity but without Internet
access envision having 3G in the next 12 months.
There are barriers to increasing Internet use that are likely to
constrain future growth such as the lack of electricity in some rural areas. Another
barrier is cost with just over half of households without Internet saying they cannot
afford it. This is mainly attributed to the price of purchasing a computer. A key
obstacle is digital literacy with almost half of households without Internet saying
they do not see the utility and one quarter replying they lack skills to use it.
This is mainly a problem with the older generation given that most of the country’s
Internet users are young. While the Digital Morocco plan calls for providing
Internet access to all schools, it does not explicitly deal with digital literacy
training for those no longer in school. Thus digital illiteracy is likely to remain
a bottleneck for increasing broadband access.