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Diaspo #179 : Abdelghani El-Kacimi, investing in the knowledge economy to change the world

Determined to transfer his know-how in computing to the world of on-board electronics to change the world, engineer Abdelghani El-Kacimi aims to contribute to the know-how wealth in his home country and «create technological independence» for it.

Abdelghani El-Kacimi. / DR
Estimated read time: 3'

Since Monday, a one-of-its-kind and accessible-to-everyone online platform has allowed businesses and people to update their connected devices. This project is developed by FotaHub Inc, a company created by Moroccan Abdelghani El-Kacimi. The platform is about allowing everyone to benefit from the technologies that it has been developing for years.

Born in Morocco in the village of Ouagrar, in the Ouazzane region, this businessman spent his entire childhood in the country. After obtaining his baccalaureate in 1989, he chose to go to Germany despite several challenges.

He enrolled in preparatory classes and then went for the engineering school of the University of the Ruhr in Bochum. «Obviously, when you arrive in a country, there are challenges to overcome. I was 17 when I arrived in Germany, I didn't speak German and was financially-challenged», he told Yabiladi. 

Born to a modest family, made up of a father working as a teacher, a stay-at-home mother and seven little brothers and sisters, Abdelghani El-Kacimi was nevertheless convinced that «those who work hard make it against all odds».

And that's exactly what he tried to do during his twenty-year-long career. After finishing school in 1998, he did a short one-year stint at world-renowned Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits IIS, the design automation division for a year and a half. From there, Texas Instruments, a world-class American electronics company in the field of electronic components and semiconductors, hired him to fill the position of designer of integrated circuits. His penchant for applications and marketing sparked from then-on an «entrepreneurial spirit» in him.

«I had to convince customers to use Texas Instruments products and I saw their problems and how they start.So I said if they know how to do that, why not me one day».

Abdelghani El-Kacimi

Computing in the world of on-board electronics

Five years later, he left the American company for a start-up based in California, Monolithic Power Systems MPS. «It was a business that had just left the garage were it was founded. I stayed there for three years because I told myself that we had to work with them to learn entrepreneurship», he recalled. 

The Moroccan, on the hunt for new opportunities, subsequently acquired shares in a German company called Itemis AG in which he became eventually CEO. Pursuing his ambition to change the world, he then tried to «unite the world of embedded and industrial computing and the world of classical computing».

To this engineer, the gap existing between the analytical mind of a computer engineer and an electronics engineer is enormous and constitutes «one of the biggest brakes for industrial development because these two worlds do not understand each other». 

To solve this problem, Abdelghani El-Kacimi launched the very advanced computing technologies in the world of on-board electronics. Technologies thanks to which his company became, 9 years later, a «world leader in the design of complex electronic systems».

In 2017, he went on to develop the FotaHub platform.»Several thousand hours have been spent on work. I told myself that this service was so innovative that it deserved a company for it. So I made a spin off of the company to create a separate and independent entity in Delaware, in the United States», he explained. While since its creation the company was catering mostly to a select few private customers, it has become open to the public since Monday.

In the meantime, Abdelghani El-Kacimi has not forgotten his country of origin to which he remains very attached. In 2011, he responded when the government created the first clusters to lead the microelectronics cluster. He then started planning «to build a bridge between the Moroccan academic world and the industrial world».

Investing in the knowledge economy

But what drives this Moroccan is his conviction that the economy of know-how is the one Morocco must focus on during this century. «We are way behind the Asians and South Americans. But in our MENA region, whether for Arab countries or Africa, we still have a head start that must be kept», he said.

«We can be the leaders in the knowledge economy in Africa and position ourselves as a pioneer in technology.It is something that concerns me and in which I would like to invest and therefore start in my country».

Abdelghani El-Kacimi

It is in this context that his company FotaHub decided to invest in the first Moroccan robot Chama. In addition to this investment, the company has also made a commitment to the Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech. 

«Through it, other Moroccan universities can dive into the world of artificial intelligence and connected objects and be able to do collaborative work between universities and researchers while going through a global platform created by a Moroccan», he proudly said. Via his company, the businessman also intends to «make calculating tools available to all Moroccan universities».

«We must also unite entrepreneurs in our country around the idea of investing in know-how. I have invested several million dollars to get to where I am now. I might have slept better if I had an investor in the beginning who had proposed that I do the work and they provide me with financing», he explained.

To Abdelghani El-Kacimi, the current challenge remains to «ensure the succession». «I am 49 years old and I worked for about 20 years to get where I am now. I hope it doesn't just end with personal success at my level and that this know-how is passed on. I would like, in the next years, to participate to the creation of know-how in my country and promote technological independence», he confides.

To this Morocco-born entrepreneur, «knowledge is the only inexhaustible raw material by dint of our investing in it».

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