Zoom on the “digital” workshop of 6th February 2017
On the occasion of the coming publication of a new Palimpsestes on digital revolution, written by Pierre BECKOUCHE, member of IPEMED Scientific Committee, the Institute wished to gather, on 6th February 2017, a dozen of leading figures to discuss the impact of digital transformations in the Mediterranean and the new solutions to face it.
The participants were: Karim BASRIRE (Maroc Entrepreneurs), Alain DUCASS (energeTIC), Rachid JANKARI (Jankari Consulting), Sami MEBAZAA (TALAN), Antoine-Tristan MOCILNIKAR (Ministry of the Environment), Bernard MOREL (Economist), Jacques OULD AOUDIA (Migrations & Development), Jean-Louis RASTOIN (Montpellier SupAgro) and Michel REVEYRANT DE MENTHON (Orange).
This work and exchange session with the IPEMED team enabled to show the depth of the digital revolution, which is not only a technical and economic revolution, but also a social and even anthropological one. All the participants agreed on the following observations:
- The digital sector could “shift” inequalities and accelerate social cleavages, especially between rural and urban areas;
- Although public access to the Internet and digital applications must be improved, technology is not the only issue. Users also need to be able to use these new tools, and training them is necessary;
- In the Mediterranean, we must encourage a shift from a consumption logic to content production and the co-development of an innovative ICT sector. In the South in particular, this implies the development of digital services that are adapted to collective needs and priorities. In this regard, “e-farming”, “smart” and “mini grids” and “e-government” could be strategic elements;
- However, “health digitalisation” does not necessarily imply healthcare access, and we must not overestimate the impact of ICT. Besides, the innovative uses of digital technologies (e/m commerce) call for a deep structural transformation of public policies, of traditional governance approaches, of infrastructures and of intellectual property protection;
- In the North and in the South alike, the digital economy is not clearly defined (who takes the financial risk? What is the business model? What are the consequences on employment? What are the national regulations?) and needs to be considered with caution. Besides, traditional actors are overcome by digital actors (case of the invitation to tender won by IBM, in Malta, for water management before SUEZ).
Faced with these challenges, the operators, researchers and institutional representatives advocated:
- Better highlighting the essential role of the diaspora;
- Listening to entrepreneurs and young people to make recommendations in terms of public policies;
- Defining a prospective vision of what we want to do with the digital sector rather than yielding to short-termism and “marketing” concept studies (smart cities, e-commerce, etc.);
- Questioning the challenges related to water, energy, etc. in the light of the digital revolution.
The digital sector offers IPEMED the possibility to play its role of catalyst and intermediary between the two shores of the Mediterranean, and between economic, scientific and political actors, among others. In this age of collaboration, the Institute could connect and initiate a dialogue between communities or entrepreneurial ecosystems, through collaborative platforms.
In this regard, the participants to this workshop approved the project of “collaborative platform for an agri-business transition in the Mediterranean” presented during the COP22 in Marrakesh. This platform aims to identify, highlight and federate sustainable and responsible food initiatives, and to promote a new territorialised governance of food and farming in the Mediterranean. Following this example, when will the Coproduction observatory be transformed into a platform?
Our latest publications on the digital sector:
- Le commerce électronique en Afrique : Maroc, Tunisie, Sénégal et Côte d'Ivoire [E-commerce in Africa: Morocco, Tunisia, Senegal and Ivory Coast], Alain DUCASS and Jean-Marc KWADJANE (April 2016);
- Les technologies de l’information au Maroc, en Algérie et en Tunisie : Vers une filière euromaghrébine des TIC ? [Information technologies in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia: towards a Euro-North African ICT industry?], Rachid JANKARI (October 2014)