Interview: Nadia Fassi-Fehri

With the shift from voice to data, what are the sources of revenue being explored by operators?

NADIA FASSI-FEHRI: The shift to data is one of the major transformations that the telecoms sector is undergoing in Morocco and worldwide, but our philosophy remains the same. Inwi anticipated this change, and as one of the first companies to launch a solid and efficient national 4G network, it offers users the opportunity to shift to this new generation of internet connection without a much of a change in price or contractual conditions. Both a fixed and mobile broadband network have been deployed, offering a data-sharing option through which a client can share data connections with up to five mobile lines, as long as they have the same operator, and to democratise internet access, tailored prepaid offers, such as Facebook and Youtube, have been developed, too. Other offers like cloud computing solutions and online payments are accompanying these new streams of revenue. Inwi continues to pursue its commitment to producing and developing impactful local content alongside digital creators. This kind of support is being delivered through the creation of new digital content and academic and career counselling programmes. These initiatives have yielded results quickly, and just three months after the launch of the 4G national network, the average volume of internet data traffic had more than doubled.

To what extent can 4G technology boost growth and generate new revenue streams?

FASSI-FEHRI: The 4G network is a necessity for the telecoms sector. However, this technology is not accessible for everybody since only 10% of Moroccan users are equipped with 4G terminals. Therefore, it is premature to measure the real impact of 4G on the sector’s growth. However, we observe a real appetite for this technology, and data consumption has been picking up. We are convinced that in a couple of years 4G will have a positive impact on the Moroccan digital economy as a whole. Along with comfort, the speed offered by 4G has the ability to develop entire segments of this new economy.

This has already started to happen with the launch of innovative web platforms and services impacting all aspects of day-to-day life.

Are current prices sustainable in terms of being able to attract further investment and enhance services in the future?

FASSI-FEHRI: Investment is part of our DNA, so we are still pursuing our 10-year investment plan to strengthen our technical infrastructure, and we anticipate future transformation in the sector. The drop in average revenue per minute is a reality, but this drop has been coupled with a significant growth in voice and internet use. Those combined effects partly counterbalance the drop in voice revenues.

How can infrastructure sharing provide opportunities to manage costs and risks?

FASSI-FEHRI: Infrastructure sharing is something that can in theory create a win-win situation for different stakeholders involved with a large variety of fixed and mobile infrastructure projects. However, the cost involved should not deter investment. Infrastructure sharing is simply a way of mutualising and rationalising any investment so that it can benefit as many clients as possible. Operators that are taking advantage of the work undertaken by a third party need to pay for the use of that infrastructure.

The National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency’s decisions are aligned with this idea, and local governments are following suit. Indeed, local communities ensure that infrastructure does not multiply needlessly, thereby avoiding overconstruction and the negative environmental and aesthetic ramifications that come with development.