Morocco must move towards English (Abdelhak Benkerroum)

The president of the Group of advertisers of Morocco (GAM), Youssef Cheikhi, gaveThursday March 2 in Casablanca, the kick off of the 5th edition of the African Digital Summit (ADS) 2023.

The first day of the summit, organized on the initiative of the GAM and which has established itself for 4 years as the major annual meeting of advertisers, marketers, agencies and the media, made it possible to address a number of subjects to support them, and the help to better understand the challenges related to digital, identify the best solutions and anticipate the developments that will impact the future of their boxes.

Among these topics is digital transformation: What models for Africa. A whole panel was moderated on this subject by Abdelhak Benkerroum, Entrepreneur, author, and academic based in Shanghai, China. The expert explained how the forced digitization that has taken place since the emergence of Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation and radically changed lives and businesses around the world.

On the occasion of the 5th edition of the ADS, the digital expert Abdelhak Benkerroum was kind enough to answer our questions on this constantly evolving sector.

MoroccoLatestNews UK : You mentioned in your panel the digital transformation in China and Africa. What about Morocco?

Abdelhak Benkerroum : I think Morocco is not moving fast enough. Of course, I base myself on my reference which is China, an ultra-digitalized society. The means of payment, the government services, the digital infrastructure in general which is very advanced.

My suggestion for Morocco is to stop looking north and start looking east. We often look towards Spain, France, Europe in general and we forget to look towards the East, that’s where it’s happening in digitalization. China, India, Singapore, Malaysia. These are all examples of success in the world of digitalization.

In this sense, I invite Moroccan companies, the State, students and entrepreneurs to look a little more towards the East.

MoroccoLatestNews UK : You mentioned China in your panel. Should we fear China and the speed with which it is evolving?

Abdelhak Benkerroum: I think it’s a very good thing to confront Chinese companies, because it puts pressure on us to act faster. That is to say today, there are certain sectors, if we occupy them, the Chinese will do it. Like certain sectors which were occupied by the French, the Spaniards or the Americans.

China, we must not fear it, on the contrary, we must try to understand it. When we don’t understand we fear, but when we understand we don’t fear. I often invite my Moroccan friends to learn the Chinese language, to read about the culture of China and to understand how this society works.

Today, one in five people on this planet is Chinese. And so if we don’t want to go to China, it’s China who will come to us. Moreover, about 10% of the Chinese population has a passport. Already we see them everywhere. So imagine if 50% of the Chinese population has a passport. You will be as Moroccan, in any sector of activity, brought at a certain moment to deal with Chinese. Don’t be afraid, but rather try to understand.

At the continental level, is Morocco ahead or behind? digitally?

Morocco compared to Africa is ahead in some aspects and behind in others. When it comes to business angels… Morocco is lagging behind. We have very fine examples in Kenya, Nigeria and Egypt which manage to pull out of the game. So Morocco has an effort to make at this level.

In other sectors, I think the Kingdom is already well ahead. I am thinking of certain technologies in aeronautics, aerospace, automotive industry technologies, fertilizers. These are sectors in which Morocco has been able to leave an imprint, digitize, innovate. But on other sectors, we have a lot to learn from Africa as much as they have to learn from us.

In your opinion, what should Morocco improve to precisely raise the level of the digital sector?

Create an ecosystem, that’s all! It is a legal framework, an incubator and an accelerator. It brings transparency. We will end up with certain cultural practices that hold us back. I am not a politician, so I can speak freely.

There are certain obstacles to development, we all know them, and which are cultural and which can be dealt with very quickly. It’s up to us to take up the challenge and try to infuse in our youth, the little ones, this love of discovery, innovation, digitization, teaching them to smile in other languages.

The future is conjugated in English and not in French. Unfortunately, I am speaking to you in French, and this is the first time that I have spoken in French during this Summit. But I say to young Moroccans, if you’re not English or Sinophone, you’ve missed the mark.

Innovation, research and development is in English. Afterwards, if you want to be a journalist, poet, writer, artist, go to France, learn French.

But otherwise the first step is English, English and English. You have to be an English speaker at all levels, from a young age, in school, in business, in government, in airports, and in everyday practices. And I can guarantee you that Morocco will take a very big step forward.

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