Key Issues
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"Key Internet Policy Issues" is a series of contributions from people living in countries new or relatively new to the Internet about what they consider to be key policy issues related to the deployment and use of the Internet in their country. Each text is published under the complete responsibility and with the permission of its author. These contributions were solicited by Alan McCluskey, guest editor, in preparation for a special issue of the Internet Society's magazine "OnTheInternet" entitled "Strategies for development: from thought to action" to be published in November 1997. For more information and comments on the preparation of this special edition see "Addressing Key Policy Issues".

Who is to use the Internet?

Internet use in Morocco will be reserved to an elite so long as the illiteracy rate remains high (50%), computers are a rare resource in most settings and the cost of an adequate system for Internet access is beyond most individuals' means. In addition, only 31.9% of Moroccan families have phone lines since communication costs are so high.

The problem of illiteracy is wider than Internet use and should be resolved anyway. What's more, literate individuals represent about 14 million and should not be neglected. Therefore, despite apparent structural problems, democratisation of computers and the Internet as well as the access to information represent a fundamental priority.

E-mail access was first available in Morocco for academics in Rabat via the Ecole Mohamedia d'Ingenieurs in 1992. Following on from the work of a small, dedicated group of individuals, later to become the Moroccan Chapter of ISOC, full public access to a national Internet node administered by the Office National des Postes et Telecommunications (ONPT) was announced in 1994, and finally became operational in November 1995. As of May 1997, Internet access was available to several hundred dial-up customers (around 7000 users). At present, some academic institutions such as the University of Casablanca, Marrakech, Oujda, and Rabat, the Post and Telecommunication engineering school, the Information Sciences School, have a 64 Kb leased line connection. The national Internet connection was upgraded with a new connection of 512 KB through Italia Telecom and is expected to be increased to 2Mb by the end of 1997. On the other hand, an abundance of Moroccan Web sites (40) has been developed during the past years and these resources are becoming well known in Morocco.

Morocco has more than adequate human resources to employ Internet technology in all institutions provided resources for connection and training are available. However, the cost of Net connection, both via individual dial-up accounts and institutional leased lines is still prohibitive. In addition, although there is wide-spread awareness of the potential of the Internet, specific programs to put Moroccan data and opinion on-line face major obstacles due both to a tradition of reticence about sharing information and to a lack of electronic-networking culture.

One important step in solving these problems is the liberalisation of telecommunications and the privatisation of ONPT. This process has already began and private companies are expected to begin selling telecommunication lines during 1998. Another important step would be to connect academia and universities countrywide enabling researchers to take advantage and collaborate with their colleagues, participate in common projects and keep up-to-date with the latest research results.

Nowadays, developing countries have no choice for: if they want to survive and to assure a minimum standard of living, they have to join the global village. However, the technical connection is just the first step, the challenge is to implement a developmental policy that is sustainable, integrating all aspects: telecommunication, education, culture, industry, trade, democracy.. Otherwise, the "North-South" gap between richer and poorer countries will be increased.

For more information about Moroccan sites see

Najat Rochdi, Vice President of MISOC, Morocco.


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ISSN: 1664-834X Copyright © , Alan McCluskey,
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Created: September 5th, 1997 - Last up-dated: September 5th, 1997