Descending from a Moroccan family that moved to France, the new Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs in the French Government, Mounir Mahjoubi, is not the typical minister. Geek, entrepreneurial and literate, he studied at the most prestigious schools in France, as a Master’s at La Sorbonne and a second master in economics by Sciences Po testify.
Coming from a humble upbringing, this would be a major success per se. Notwithstanding, Mahjoubi had bigger hopes and sights. Expert in communications and entrepreneurship, he is the founder of several successful start-ups after some short work experiences at l’Oréal and as a Director of BETC Digital. One of them, La Ruche qui dit oui, is a network that supports local producers by connecting them to their community. The start-up currently operates in several European countries and is continuing to grow.
Given his abilities, Mahjoubi’s road to politics was just a matter of time. Mounir started being involved in the Socialist Party at an early age, while at the same time developing a strong interest for innovation and the Internet. A self-taught programmer, in 2016 he was named head of the French Digital Council, an institutional body in France that gives advice on internet and technology matters to the government.
After a year in this position, he resigned and joined the newly born movement En Marche!, where he helped with the campaign to elect Emmanuel Macron at the French Presidency. From the campaign to the government the step has been short: once elected President Mr Macron appointed Mr Mahjoubi as a member of his cabinet. His position: Secretary of State in charge of Digital Affairs.
Unknown to the European public, the Secretary will have to deal with a changing digital portfolio. Mr Mahjoubi will be in charge of some of the most relevant strategic challenges and developments: while technology will only continue to develop at an increasingly fast rate, cybersecurity threats are on the rise. Finding the right balance between innovation and security is no easy task.
Mr Mahjoubi has indeed on his hands a great responsibility, and still needs to have his position confirmed in the coming Parliamentary elections in June. Following En Marche!’s rules, ministers who do not get invested will only be able to stay one year in office. Therefore, Mr Mahjoubi has to win and be invested in the district of Paris to keep his position.
Now is the time for the enfant prodige to show the importance and advantages of being a New European and prove that his previous experiences make him a suitable person to hold office.
Mr Mahjoubi is a breeze of fresh air for French politics: he is part of the new technological generation and represents the French youth – entrepreneurial, open-minded and connected. But more importantly, his appointment is a reflection of the multicultural French society: he portrays diversity.
With the current political times, the election of a valid candidate stemming from a migrant background sets a good example for other governments and for citizens. Seeing that one of the leading European countries boasts a strong, diverse and equal cabinet of ministers, only raises the expectations of having again a united European Union that looks further to integration.