Interview: Abdesselam Bouchouareb
What are the industrial development strategies and markets for non-hydrocarbons exports?
ADESSELAM BOUCHOUAREB: The expansion of the export base is one of the structural pillars of the new industrial strategy of Algeria. Measures are to be taken to develop potential export sectors such as petrochemicals, fertilisers, construction materials and agribusiness. In parallel, we are continuously striving to improve foreign trade logistics. In 2014 we launched a series of industrial poles: mechanical and automotive, electronics, construction materials. Soon, the pharmaceutical industry and textile and clothing will follow.
The development of these sectors will allow us to move from being a mere supplier of raw hydrocarbons to also being a producer and exporter of processed goods. Our first goal is to reach a certain stage in the downstream industrial segment of the production chain, then move towards more complex segments of production and innovation.
Algeria must be present in key sectors including energy and renewables, chemical and petrochemical industries, and digital industries. The structuring of strategic sectors such as steel allows us to capture high added value, while providing other sectors with finished goods. We have substantial opportunities throughout North Africa and the Middle East region as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. We also adopt a co-location approach, given our proximity to Europe and ability to build export platforms into Africa.
Which reforms will help to boost the attractiveness of Algeria as an investment destination?
BOUCHOUAREB: The 2030 National Land Planning Scheme delineates nine zones based on their potential and strengths. We are increasing the quantity and the quality of land supply through the implementation of 49 industrial parks spread throughout the country, especially in the highlands and the south.
Among the immediate measures are specific benefits for industrial development that have been granted by the new finance law. We have one of the most attractive tax systems in the region and all decisions are designed to encourage productive investment. We are working to ease investment procedures, as exemplified by the raising of the threshold for projects that must be brought before the National Investment Council to benefit from tax advantages to DA2bn (€18.4m).
Is there room for growth in the development of chemicals derived from hydrocarbons?
BOUCHOUAREB: Our goal is to use oil wealth to build the post-oil period and diversify exports. In November 2014 we opened a major plant for fertiliser, ammonia and urea production. The plant has two ammonia units of 2200 tonnes per day each and an urea unit of 3450 tonnes per day. The development of first- and second-generation petrochemicals and phosphates production will help grow a network of SMEs around industrial projects with high added value.
What are some key objectives for the mining sector over the medium term?
BOUCHOUAREB: The mining sector possesses huge potential. All the conditions are there for a new impetus to this sector, including the Government Action Plan, which represents a strategic vision for the financial resources of the state. Within two years, we hope to double the mining sector’s turnover.
The 51/49 rule in mining is not an obstacle for foreign partners given that Algeria is a solvent market where demand will reach 20m tonnes in the coming years. All the closed mines nationwide will reopen. We must undergo technological and managerial transformation in this sector and, as such, I invite foreign partners to come explore all the latent potential for a transfer of know-how in a win-win relationship.
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