In one year Algeria did better in 3G than Morocco in six in accelerating the development of the Internet and its ecosystem by the unbundling of the respective local loops.  

In one year, Algeria managed to quadruple the country’s rate of penetration of the Internet, with the launch of the 3G network more than Morocco did in six years.

The rate of Internet penetration in Algeria went from 6% in December 2013 to more than 24% to November 2014, according to annual review made public recently through Post and Telecommunications Authority (ARPT).  This rate has thus quadrupled thanks to the contribution of the 3G mobile, launched 15 December 2013 after several years of delay.  From 2.33 million in 2013, the number of subscribers to the Internet in Algeria rose to 9.81 million, of which 8.23 million subscribers for 3G after one year of launch in 39 out of the 48 governorates.  Algeria lies with all guarded proportions to a comparable level with that of Morocco, which has launched 3G in 2008, and achieved to do in one year what its neighbour did in six years in terms of connectivity.   But the contribution to the economy remains low in Algeria in the absence of intrinsic ecosystem to the emergence of a digital economy.

In Morocco, the number of Internet subscribers reached 8.5 million by end of September 2014 with a penetration rate of 25.6%, posting a quarterly close to 9% and 62.8%, annual rates of growth the latest figures on the evolution of the telecommunications market of the National Agency for regulation of telecommunications (ANRT) of Morocco. The segment of the 3 G Internet, who now represents approximately 88.9% of overall Park, recorded an increase quarterly 9.9% and 70.5%, annual standing at 7.55 million subscribers, explains the ANRT. The ADSL Park, with a share of 11.1% in the global Internet Park, recorded a growth of 2.2% quarterly and annual largest 19.6%, says the ANRT in a recent press release.

Algerian policymakers of the Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) sector, therefore seriously underestimated gain connectivity that could make the 3G.  Only professional actors from the sector have predicted such growth that the historical operator, Algeria Telecom, could do with the deployment of the wired network.

Insignificant contribution of the Internet to GDP in Algeria.

It should be noted however that, despite the catch-up in terms of connectivity, the contribution of the Internet to the economy remains insignificant in Algeria, given the virtual absence of ecosystem supporting the digital economy.  On this point, Algeria is far from the level of Morocco.  The contribution of the Internet to the gross domestic product (GDP) in Algeria has been 0.8% in 2012, according to a study by the firm Mc Kinsey Global Institute on the ranking of African countries in terms of deployment of new information and communication technologies.  In Morocco, this contribution reached 2.3% of GDP, in the 3rd position, overtaken by Senegal with the contribution of ICT to local GDP is estimated at 3.3%, and the Kenya with 2.9%.  In absolute terms, the Kingdom is contained in 2nd position, outranked only by South Africa, on the 14 countries compared in the report published by the consulting firm.  With approximately $2.2 billion of contribution to the economy, it exceeds Senegal ($470 million) and Kenya ($1.1 billion).

McKinsey measures the contribution of the Internet to GDP by bringing together activities related to the creation and use of networks and Internet services into four broad categories: private consumption (including revenues from fixed and mobile, Internet purchases of smartphones and computers services, and e-commerce), government expenditure, private investment and trade balance.

Algeria is thus classified in the category of countries “strong performance below their potential”, while Morocco as the country with the “greatest potential for growth”.  But both are still faced with the same challenges to exploit this potential.  To accelerate the development of the Internet and its ecosystem, the two countries must put an end to the monopoly of the incumbents on the ADSL network, introduce competition between operators, establishing the unbundling of the local loop, especially as they prepare in 2015 to begin in the 4G mobile.  In this perspective, Morocco crossed a major step this year in deciding to impose the unbundling of Maroc Telecom.  Algeria it seems to be taking its time.