Timid ICT Evolution in Maghreb

Computing

Figures released by the United Nations Development Programme in Algiers show a timid evolution of ICTs in the Maghreb region with only 2.5% of Internet penetration.

Algeria has reached 5, 33%, whereas Morocco is leading with 14, 36%, Tunisia is lagging behind, it faces technical and political obstacles to catch up with the rest of the region inspite of the slow pace of ICT penetration. However, for computing penetration, Tunisia is doing quite well with the rate of 5,63% compared with a catastrophic 1, 06% in Algeria, but a promising 2,35% in Morocco and 1,41% in Mauritania. For mobile telephone density, Tunisia leads the group with 56,32%, seconded by Algeria with 44,52%, Morocco is in the third place with 39,70%, Mauritania has 24,30% and Libya is the last one with a mere 4,45%.

On the other hand, a survey on ICT carried out in Algeria by FOREM, a local NGO, says only 0,10% of small and medium enterprises (SME) have introduced computers in their businesses, 70% of existing computing equipments are outdated but 12% is the computing penetration rate iof the networks. In its report, Forem concludes that a high digital illiteracy level still prevails. In order to curb or at least to reduce the digital gap, Boujemaa Haichour, the Algerian minister of ICTs has initiated a series of measures. He has set up first regional academic networks to offer e-learning trainings, opened up the ICT market for more competition and established online universal access services. However, the UNDP?s expert argues that Algeria is not exploiting rationally and fully its huge ICT potentials, namely Internet facilities, he has also suggested to develop an internet policy to establish adequate structures to run and monitor related activities and services.

Along the same lines, Ali Kahlane the DG of private company Satlinker has proposed a content industry development for the web. Although the internet does not belong to use, said Kahlane, we can re-appropriate it by filling the pipes with our content and that is why Algeria is badly in need of a concrete content industry, he concludes.

HANA