Morocco has just banned the hosting of its sensitive data abroad. Objectives: to defend its digital sovereignty and protect itself from possible piracy.
In 2021, Morocco had suffered nearly 600 cyberattacks, which notably targeted the government or public bodies. Enough to fear the worst for the kingdom's sensitive data. The observation, made by Abdellatif Loudiyi, Minister Delegate to the Head of Government in charge of National Defense Administration, worried the deputies of the first chamber, who are currently in the process of finalizing a regulatory framework linked to "digital trust ".
Pending the finalization of this framework, Ghita Mezzour, Moroccan Minister Delegate in charge of Digital Transition and Administrative Reform, announced a first important decision a week ago: Moroccan sensitive data can no longer be hosted in servers located outside the national territory.
The Malabo Convention neglected by African States
A great step forward, while the continent is struggling to take the measure of digital sovereignty. Since its adoption in 2014, the African Union Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection — the Malabo Convention — has only been signed by a dozen countries and ratified by a handful of them — Senegal , Mauritius and Togo.
According to Marc Bidan, university professor in information systems management who wrote an article on the subject in Management & Data science, “the issue of personal data — and therefore of sovereignty within the meaning of the European GDPR or the American Patriot Act — is not quite at the center of the concerns” of African governments. “We have to support them and encourage them,” he recommends.
“Because of the lack of equipment on site, the absence of specific legislation and limited confidence in the reliability of existing infrastructures, sensitive African data is hosted abroad, deplores Marc Bidan. This situation of digital dependence cannot last and it must evolve towards sovereignty and a little more autonomy”.
For full digital sovereignty
Philippe Wang, Executive Vice President of Huawei North Africa, explains in a Tribune that “most of the data of African countries is, in fact, hosted by information storage centers located abroad. However, data centers are essential infrastructures for the creation of digital sovereignty. By outsourcing their data to national actors, African states are strengthening their digital sovereignty, and therefore, state sovereignty”. An astonishing platform when you know that Huawei has been repeatedly accused of spying in Africa.
Digital sovereignty, if it is essential, must therefore above all be symbolized by local actors. However, for the moment, on the continent, foreign operators have a free hand. "As a government, we are aware of vendor and technology issues, but some of these are more politics than technology," said Joe Mucheru, Kenya's technology minister recently. information and communication.
The Moroccan decision is therefore excellent news for the digital sovereignty of the kingdom. Provided that cybersecurity is provided by Moroccan companies and organizations. However, recalls Philippe Wang of Huawei, “the construction of a full and complete African digital sovereignty is undermined by the lack of technical and technological, financial and human means”. The ban on hosting sensitive data outside the national territory is therefore important, but this will require, in the future, that Morocco trains many specialists in cybernetics.