Ghita MEZZOUR: Opening remarks at Morocco AI annual conference 2021
Dear researchers, entrepreneurs and students
Fellow speakers, dear audience,
It’s my great pleasure to give this inaugural address for the first edition of Morocco AI. An important conference for which i wish a successful journey. I’m delighted that this conference gathers top AI experts from around the world.
Data and AI can fool strong social development. They can inform bad decisions, build convenient experiences, optimize resources and drive positive impact around us.
Congratulations to the organizers and contributors.
Dear morocco AI audience,
The theme of this first edition is bridging the gap between AI research and industry. For this, we need to foster collaboration between AI researchers and practitioners. We need to work together to ensure that AI has strong social impact. The technology shows incredible opportunities in various areas including health education and public services. It can drive social economic growth and improve people’s lives. This is aligned with the vision of his Majesty the king Mohammed VI, that encourages innovation and the use of technology as drivers for social economic growth.
Morocco is no strange to such technological movements and the country has indeed rich AI talent. Many AI researchers and practitioners trained in top international institutions have chosen to come to morocco and to contribute to its development. Moreover many higher education institutions in morocco offer outstanding AI training programs. The trained individuals are smart, hardworking and eager to advance AI technology and to put it at the service of society.
Many scholars in Moroccan universities have received AI research grants from top international organizations including USID, the European Union, the NATO and the US army. Moreover, PhD students in Moroccan universities have received top awards such as the Google PhD fellowship award. Morocco has also taken important steps to sustain research programs around AI and its implementation for local needs.
The AI Huawai’s program is among the initiatives launched by morocco led by the ministry of education and the digital development agency (ADD). This program aims to boost university industry AI research collaboration. It’s an AI research program that encourages start-ups and academia to work hand in hand in order to develop breakthrough technology that addresses key social needs.
A budget of 50 million dirhams has been allocated to this project and 45 applied research projects have been developed by universities research institutions and the private sector over a period of three years.
Such initiatives are very promising and several Moroccan start-ups have already leveraged such technology for impact. For example, many start-ups have developed powerful NLP solutions and chatbots in “Darija”, the Moroccan dialect that significantly improved customer support and public services. Other start-ups developed algorithms that predict and prevent prenatal complications. AI is also used for fraud detection and automatic field surveillance.
We’re very proud to announce that many Moroccan AI start-ups have been recognized internationally and have established strong partnerships with flagship international organizations. We will need to work more in order to create the right environment that helps these kind of innovative companies to rise and grow.
One of the actionable ways to do that is to encourage further collaboration between academia and industry. These collaborations will advance academic research and foster social economic growth.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our interest in AI is part of a larger effort to accelerate Moroccan’s digital transformation and to leverage technology to improve the lives of millions of people. We put citizens at the center and work to ensure an inclusive approach that benefits all Moroccans including vulnerable populations.
We are currently working on reinforcing the legal framework improving the digital infrastructure and substantially increasing the number of it graduates. I invite you all, to make sure new technologies do improve the lives of millions of people.
I congratulate you again for your interest in such an important topic and wish this conference plenty of success.