RABAT, Morocco, Nov. 1, 2007 – In a country known for mesmerizing mystique and a multicultural history that dates back to at least 8,000 B.C., Intel Corporation is using computers and Internet technology to help bring Morocco’s 33 million people into a modern digital age ripe with opportunity.
"Morocco is at a crossroads in its economic development," said Intel Chairman Craig Barrett, who unveiled several projects aimed at extending digital inclusion to all Moroccans during his first visit to the North African nation. "Technology can help accelerate the country’s economic prospects, and Intel is collaborating with Morocco’s government and its people to help enable this transition."
Barrett’s two days in Morocco conclude the Africa portion of a worldwide "Expanding What’s Possible" tour focused on digital accessibility and education. Intel’s announcements include a joint project with the Department of Telecommunications and Information Technology (D.E.P.T.I.) to develop public Internet access centers, and with the Ministry of Education to train thousands of teachers and donate computers to Moroccan schools.
Earlier this week, in his role as chairman of the United Nations Global Alliance for Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Development, Barrett took part in the Connect Africa Summit in Rwanda to explore ways to bring the benefits of technology to people to the African continent.
Helping to Drive Access to Education
Barrett also visited a classroom at one of two rural Moroccan schools benefiting from new computers and broadband Internet access.
"It was an extraordinary thing — like we were connected to the exterior world," said Asmae Wahabi, a French teacher at Saad Ibn Abi Al Ouakass school in Ain Aouda, where Intel installed 250 Intel-powered Classmate PCs and Internet connectivity and trained teachers on the effective use of technology to teach children. "The students, and especially the students that are from underprivileged families, had this occasion to access knowledge, so now nothing is holding them from pursuing progress to succeed. It is going to give them a chance for a better future."
The computers are part of an agreement signed today with Morocco’s Ministry of Education to donate 1,000 Intel-powered Classmate PCs for primary schools over the next few years. An affordable, full-featured laptop, the Classmate PC supports project-based learning by enabling teachers to share information and student work with the entire class. Intel and Morocco’s Ministry of ICT also installed a new WiMAX network at Saad Ibn Abi Al Ouakass School. The long-range wireless technology is a cost-effective way to deliver high-speed Internet access to rural communities.
Barrett, a former university professor, also toured the Institut National Des Postes et Télécommunication, an engineering university in Rabat where Intel implemented a computer lab designed around multi-core processor technology. The lab will enable hands-on training in the latest computing technologies to better prepare university students for entering the workforce.
Intel has trained 4,500 teachers in Morocco and aims to train 25, 000 by the end of next year through the Intel® Teach program, which focuses on integrating technology in the curriculum to help teachers better educate children. The efforts coincide with the goals of the Ministry of Education’s program called GENIE – which is the French word for genius. Intel also plans to launch an online version of the Intel Teach program in Morocco next year.
Using Technology as a Tool to Engage and Connect People
Working with Morocco’s new government, Intel launched an initiative today in Ain Aouda, a rural village about 30 km south of Rabat, dedicated to providing computers and Internet access for all Moroccans. It focuses on extending digital inclusion to underprivileged areas and creating new opportunities in a country where an estimated 46 percent of the population can’t read and write. Intel and D.E.P.T.I. have started the initiative — called Al Morchid (in English, "the advisor") — with a pilot of four shared-access centers.
The centers, patterned after Internet cafés, are models for the government’s plan to build a national network of Al Morchid "e-spaces" where all Moroccans can easily take advantage of vital ICT resources, including high-speed Internet access, technology training and access to e-government services. Morocco is one of a few countries in Africa to offer government services entirely online such as custom clearance and tax declarations.
Other participants in the Al Morchid initiative include Meditel, the local telecom operator providing the Internet connectivity; Post Maroc, a state-owned mail service provider that will offer its services through the centers; and Nortis, a telecom company that will be involved on an ongoing basis.
"This initiative will help us bridge the digital divide and allow low-income citizens to access e-government services while creating new opportunities for young entrepreneurs to launch their own businesses and create new jobs," said Taieb Debbagh, general secretary of D.E.P.T.I.
Through its World Ahead Program, Intel strives to improve education, healthcare, entrepreneurship and government services in developing countries worldwide by accelerating access to computers, connectivity and localized Internet content. Additional information is available at www.intel.com/changingtheworld and www.intel.com/intel/worldahead.