Cédric O himself out of the equation announcing his retirement from political life at the end of Emmanuel Macron’s first five-year term, who will succeed him in Morocco’s new head of government, dedicated to digital and telecommunications; If there are many names in the technological ecosystem (especially Philippe Englebert, Eric Bothorel, Rania Belkahia, Alexandre Zapolsky), the choice of casting depends mainly on the nature of the location. Will Morocco, as in the previous two five years, be presented in the form of a simple state secretariat or will it eventually become more ambitious, more in tune with the huge economic, social, industrial and environmental digital technology?
Meet multiple digital challenges
This is the dilemma currently facing the newly elected President of the Republic, Emanuel Macron, and his close environment, as the composition of the new government is approaching. According to our information, the discussions “go everywhere” but in any case reflect a desire to change the scope of the position.
The head of state and his team are actually navigating between four options. The first, conservative, is to maintain a simple Secretariat of State annexed to Bersi. But the magnitude of the risks surrounding digital technology makes this choice irrelevant and could be perceived as incomprehensible by the candidate who spoke most during the campaign for the central role of digital and innovation. In fact, it would be a setback, given the special status of the last Foreign Minister for Digital, Cédric O, a former adviser to the head of state in the Elysium.
The second option is to reproduce the “Cédric O model”, ie the appointment of a “simple” Minister of Foreign Affairs under the supervision of the Minister of Economy and Finance, who, however, would have real weight in politics and freedom of action and speech because close to O Chairman. Cédric O had a perfect fit for this situation. “I do not underestimate the symbolic significance of a Ministry of Digital, but I’m not sure I would have done more with another title“Problem: the nature of the position actually limits the ability of a foreign minister to act, not including the multidisciplinary and horizontal dimension of digital technology, and isolates the incumbent. And if Cédric O were able to calculate In the “support and political weight” of the Minister in charge of Bruno Le Maire, the cooperation of the Minister in charge is equally crucial for his Foreign Minister to have real room for maneuver. rather shaky.
In all likelihood, the head of state will therefore prefer to find a new position for digital technology in the next government. His third option is to meet the ecosystem demand for years by creating a truly complete digital ministry, on which some undersecretaries dedicated to certain strategic issues such as the technological ecosystem or cybersecurity could depend. This option would allow for a better policy approach to sectoral digital issues, while giving it a seat during inter-ministerial meetings for horizontal action.
Finally, the fourth option is, in addition to the full ministry or instead, the integration of digital technology in the hearts of many other Moroccans, and why not even in their title. This would of course be the case in Bercy, where the digital dimension could be an integral part of the job description of the Minister of Economy, Finance and Digital, but also in other ministries such as National Education, Vocational Training, State Transformation – with a Amélie de Montchalin who would be in a good position to get a new folding seat – or even industry and media.
According to our information, nothing has been decided yet, but the creation of a digital ministry or the promotion of digital in several ministries is a very serious possibility. “Unlike in 2017, when the issue of the perimeter was quickly evacuated in order to maintain a state secretariat, this time the need for its extension really arises because the status quo seems cut off from the issues.“, Says a source.
The “absurdity” of a simple foreign minister in view of the stakes
Indeed, the crazy growth of the digital sector -25 unicorns in 2022 versus 2 in 2017, 20,000 start-ups compared to 8,000 then, hundreds of thousands of new jobs expected in the coming years- and the rapid adoption of new uses especially by the Covid pandemic -19 – teleworking, teleconsultation, telemedicine, online education, the rise of video games and streaming … – require a serious challenge to the position of digital technology in the new government.
In 2017, Emanuel Macron already wanted to innovate: of course, he had kept a Secretariat of State, which was then assigned to Munir Mazubi, but he had put it under the supervision of the Prime Minister, who was Edouard Philippe. The idea then was to place digital “at the height of its challenges”, ie in the heart of the state, with direct access to the Prime Minister and in relation to all ministries. Problem: in practice, the distance from Bercy and his administrations, the “physical” perimeter of the digital jump seat, had isolated the Secretary of State from the government. And direct access to the Prime Minister still required him to want to address these issues, which in fact did not happen to Edouard Philippe. Result: during the October 2018 reshuffle, the head of state backed down, Morocco returned to Bercy, under Bruno Le Maire, and remained there under Cédric O, who was appointed in April 2019 and remains in his place.
For his second term, can Emmanuel Macron remain in this status quo when he tried in 2017 to give more importance to digital, and especially when he continues to insist on the importance of innovation in solving the great challenges of the decade?
“It seems increasingly absurd for digital technology to be represented in government by a small foreign minister, when its challenges are multiple, interconnected and at the heart of public action in many areas. Spiritually, it would be an interesting break for digital to be placed in the heart of many ministries“, The businessman Tariq Krim confesses to us. The France Digitale lobby, which brings together 1,800 tech startups and investors and is campaigning for a digital ministry since François Hollande’s five-year term, shares this observation.
“Digital is the sector that creates the most jobs and some start-ups are likely to enter the CAC40 in the coming years, but it is also a horizontal issue. “So it is very important that the person who brings the issue to the government has a real political weight and voice in the inter-ministerial meetings, to which the deputy ministers are not invited”, points out to La Tribune Maya Noël, its general director.
If Emanuel Macron had decided to give Digital a ministry, which is currently a simple possibility, he would probably have stayed at Bercy to take advantage of access to administrations, in particular the Directorate-General for Business (DGE), at the Intergovernmental Digital Department (Dinum) or Digital Organization, which are necessary for the implementation of public policies. This new portfolio will definitely include telecommunications again, already under Cédric O since the July 2020 reshuffle.
Finally a political incarnation of cyber security?
Already at the time of the 2020 reshuffle, voices, especially Deputy Eric Bothorel, the now undeclared candidate for Cédric O’s successor, called for the creation of a state secretariat dedicated to cybersecurity. The reason: the cyber issue is important but not politically motivated, something that forces an administration, the National Information Systems Security Agency (Anssi), to fill this gap through its director, Guillaume Poupard, who is also recognized assessed by the entire ecosystem in cyberspace.
According to our information, the issue of supporting cybersecurity policy has returned to the table in recent months. It remains to be seen whether this will take the form of a special State Secretariat or whether cybersecurity will be included in the description of duties of the Minister of Digital and / or Defense. In any case, the name of Guillaume Pupar, who announced in January that he would not return to Annecy at the end of his term ending in July, is circulating to occupy this possible position.