By Anna Schaeffer
Rabat – At a July 20 McKinsey & Company conference in Morocco, a presentation on artificial intelligence algorithms highlighted the powerful potential of digitizing sectors of Morocco’s economy.
The global management consulting firm, which specializes in digital transformation, hosted the conference “Potential of Digital and Artificial Intelligence (AI)” this past Friday. Casablanca Sector General Manager Jalil Bensouda and his associate Yassine Sekkat emphasized in their presentation the possibilities of dynamic digital incorporation in Morocco.
“The 20th century Grail was oil. The 21st is the data,” Bensouda declared.
Evolution of agriculture, accounting, automotive
Bensouda and Sekkat highlighted sectors in which artificial intelligence offers promising potential. Perhaps unexpectedly, the first category deals more with organic matter than technology: agriculture. But the effects of optimization algorithms in farming—especially in light of climate change—are powerful.
Irrigation optimization systems considerably improve efficiency, producing greater yields even with less water input. “Given the phenomenon of water stress that has affected Morocco for several years,” Bensouda explained, cost-effective and responsible water usage remains crucial.
Algorithms also present a more systematic process for fertilizer and pesticide use. Predictive analysis, a concept championed by scholars researching the intersection of artificial intelligence and agriculture, develops recommendations for crop inputs based on data.
Overall, algorithms and agriculture represent a surprising combination with hundreds of possibilities for growth.
Bensouda and Sekkat also discussed the usage of artificial intelligence in banking and tax. Cross-checking and data collection, operated primarily by algorithms, help prevent financial fraud.
The automotive sector, too, benefits from optimized logistics circuits and “predictive” maintenance services. By streamlining the manufacturing process, output increases along with profit.
Telecommunications, insurance, and energy sectors each present possibilities for improvement with the implementation of artificial intelligence, according to the presenters. “Reducing interactions between citizens and administrators” and creating “smoother communication” in bureaucratic processes goes a long way.
What about jobs?
Will artificial intelligence replace human capital and disrupt the job market? Bensouda dismissed this concern with confidence.
“On the contrary,” he said. “This is an incredible opportunity that can generate many jobs. For a job destroyed, more than 100 will be created in return.”
He continued to explain that the shift away from bureaucracy will engender a simplified entrepreneurial process and, consequently, “an increase in attractiveness and investments.”
Sekkat praised artificial intelligence as “the replication of man’s cognitive abilities by the machine.” It holds the power to improve human ability for analysis, innovation, creation, and prediction with virtually infinite possibility.
Morocco: a nation of potential
As technology prices decrease, accessibility moves in the opposite direction; “ready-to-use” algorithms increasingly available to the general public make the use of artificial intelligence a real possibility for many Moroccans.
“There is a real global shortage for specialized profiles in AI,” Bensouda said. “Data scientists, data engineers and data architects are in great demand. Given the employment situation in Morocco, this sector can be an important source of work.”
“It’s not just for Silicon Valley. Above all, it is a real opportunity for Africa and Morocco to catch up.”