Jamila Ait Bencheikh: “With digitalization, the energy company can make gains across multiple channels”

Digitization extends to all economic sectors. The energy transition, currently in full swing in Morocco and throughout the African continent, is not to be outdone. The reason is that digitizing allows the energy company to win on several fronts. Details on the benefits, with Jamila Ait Bencheikh, founder of the Africa energy e-training academy.

Last September, Casablanca hosted the first edition of the Energy Transition Digitization Forum. What do you think of this initiative?
This is a very good initiative, not only at the level of Morocco but also on the scale of the African continent, because the conduct of an energy transition towards a sustainable system is not only based on development projects of low-carbon energy production infrastructure, but also on the development of an ecosystem where information management must be a pillar.

This meeting was thus an opportunity to bring together the members of the ecosystem of the digitalization of the energy transition in Morocco – and at the level of the continent – to discuss the ways and means to be put in place to make more use of the new digital technologies which can have several positive impacts on this transition, particularly in terms of acceleration, interconnection, optimization, control, etc. For example, artificial intelligence can help optimize resources in the energy transition. It can also help to better control energy consumption.

In your opinion, why is it so necessary to digitize the energy sector, especially in its current phase of transition to renewable energies?
Morocco has decided to increase the production of renewable energies to 52% of its installed capacity by 2030. The large solar power plants of Noor Ouarzazate and those currently under construction in Midelt, as well as the wind power plants, enter all within this framework. It is very good to have such infrastructures, but it is not enough to adopt national policies for the massive development of renewable energies without taking into account the way in which these flexible sources will interact with each other.

Digitization is therefore essential as a tool guaranteeing the coordinated operation of these sources throughout the production, transport and distribution value chain. To do this, it is necessary, in particular, to use connected objects, using what is commonly called the Internet of Things (IoT), which today makes digitalization necessary.

Are Moroccan energy companies aware of the fact that they need to digitize their activities? If so, where are they directing their digitization efforts first?
Listen, the first edition of the Energy Transition Digitization Forum is an initiative of a Moroccan energy company. This is a powerful sign of the importance of embodying this vision by Moroccan energy companies. But does this mean that local energy companies have all integrated digitalization into their processes? I cannot go forward.

However, the actions to be taken must focus first on upgrading companies’ digital infrastructure, then on adopting smart solutions and, of course, on strengthening connectivity.

In your opinion, does the Moroccan ecosystem have enough specialists in the design and production of digital tools such as open innovation, IoT, big data, artificial intelligence, etc., to support companies? energy?
Yes, most definitely. I remind you that Morocco has designed several strategies for the development of digitalization such as “Numeric Morocco 2013” and “Digital Morocco 2020”. It has also created specialized bodies such as the Digital Development Agency (ADD) and the National Commission for the Control of Personal Data Protection (CNDP). These different strategies and governance bodies work hand in hand with the companies grouped within the APEBI (Federation of information technologies, telecommunications and offshoring), which is one of the most dynamic federations CGEM (General Confederation of Moroccan Enterprises). This without forgetting that the Moroccan industrial fabric has recently been marked by the emergence of start-ups which mainly have activities oriented towards so-called SMART solutions.

Concretely, can we know what this digitization effort really brings to the energy company?
With digitalization, the energy company can gain on several channels and, in particular, in the operational optimization of its activities, the management of its resources, a clear and interactive monitoring of its processes,… and much more.

To fully play its role, should digital transformation affect the entire value chain, from production to energy distribution?
Indeed, to take full advantage of the power of digital, the embodiment of digital transformation must concern the entire value chain. This approach affects the design, construction, operation and dismantling of sites and factories. All the trades of the energy company are concerned. In the production sector, for example, the support of artificial intelligence (AI), in terms of process automation, is major. The analytical processing of data has, in the same way, turned practice upside down, and enabled overall optimization in terms of operational performance, consumption forecasts, energy production and predictive maintenance.

Precisely, what is your establishment, Areta, doing in terms of digitizing the energy transition?
The Africa energy e-training academy fills a gap in access to learning in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sector. It is an online training platform, which allows interested professionals and the general public to follow business-oriented training sessions remotely and developed by experts in the field of renewable energies and energy efficiency. Africa energy e-training academy was created to promote the use of renewable energies and energy efficiency in Morocco and on the African continent, and thus support the development of transition and sustainable development, in accordance with the commitments of the Paris Agreement.

Who is asking for your support?
Our training focuses on two fundamental aspects. The first relates to the provision of online training for learners interested in the field of renewable energy development and energy efficiency. While the second relates to the ARETA business offer, through which we support manufacturers via agile intra-organization training.

What do you think is needed to further incentivize the digitalization of the energy sector?
The digitization of the energy sector essentially involves adopting an open mindset on new communication technologies and artificial intelligence. As is the case for other economic sectors, digitalization will make it possible to considerably improve performance.

Aziz Diouf / ECO Inspirations

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Jamila Ait Bencheikh: “With digitalization, the energy company can make gains across multiple channels”


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