Interview: Rachid Ghezlaoui
What are the most important developments in relation to logistics platforms in Algeria?
RACHID GHEZLAOUI: The platforms alone are not sufficient and must be accompanied by very sophisticated and modern tools that make it possible to absorb the residual costs, which have an enormous impact on the final cost and quality of these services. Thus the objective is to create a framework that guarantees an optimal integration of the different platforms so as to offer continuous and customer-oriented, door-to-door services through an efficient and cost-effective use of the transport system. The quality of the platforms depends on the implementation of intermodal designs for the transport network, the existence of intermodal correspondence points, and the application of standards for transport vehicles and equipment.
So while simultaneously investing in the construction of railway tracks and improving the quality of road services, for example on the maritime front, it is also necessary to develop port infrastructure that is convenient for the businesses based there.
How would you assess the overall quality of Algeria’s intermodal infrastructure?
GHEZLAOUI: The land, air and, above all, maritime transport services are based on various viable modal transport options, representing an original and rational use of the transport system which reduces costs and generates added value that will also reduce storage fees. This organisation is practically absent from the Algerian transport system. The creation of dry ports has certainly relieved the pressure on port storage space but does not create the potential for greater intermodality throughout the system.
Nevertheless, Algeria has seen an improvement in its logistics performance index ranking due to various efforts in Customs legislation, including clearance procedures, and reduced clearance times at ports and airports. The granting of permits for green corridors and post-clearance checks can still considerably improve the level of Algeria’s logistics performance.
What infrastructure priorities can help to better facilitate imports and exports?
GHEZLAOUI: The infrastructure priorities for improving the logistical competitiveness of import-export flows are part of a global strategy based on the development of skills in international logistics.
It is important to recall that Algeria has only 10 commercial ports; seven predominantly for goods, and three mixed goods-hydrocarbons ports. Historically, investments in port development concerned only the hydrocarbons ports. As such, the other ports are only first-generation, under-equipped ports that cannot accommodate large vessels. They are designed solely for small cargo ships, which ultimately generates considerably higher freight charges for Algerian shippers.
In July 2015 the government announced an ambitious development programme for 2025 with projects to build and develop container terminals, creating potential container traffic capacity of about 3.2m twenty-foot equivalent units. This plan includes the launch of the Cherchell Méga Port project by 2020, which will propel Algeria to greater prominence in terms of trade throughout the Mediterranean and African regions, and will also serve to free up capacity at the other ports.
For airport infrastructure, the Algiers airport has the largest share of freight-flow management due to the density of the industrial facilities in the central region. Nevertheless, in order to keep up with ever-increasing levels of activity, efforts to modernise the shipment of goods at the airport need to continue.
Our road network remains one of the best on the continent with the Trans-Sahara Highway connecting six countries. Although the infrastructure itself is important, improvements are needed in terms of cost reduction and logistics to make it more attractive for companies based in Algeria that are looking to export.