Interview: Youcef Yousfi
How can Algeria reduce consumption of fossil fuels and develop sources of renewable energy?
YOUCEF YOUSFI: Natural gas, a widely available resource, long helped to meet the country’s energy needs. Our electricity is almost entirely produced from natural gas, but national and international energy plants are experiencing major changes that will affect our country. Given our significant energy potential and the need to plan the use of these resources, it is imperative to value all energy sources, increase exploration and establish a more balanced energy mix. In this regard, renewable resources offer a promising alternative. Still, serious efforts have been made to reduce consumption and control energy usage. We have achieved an efficient, economic and clean energy consumption model through rationalising use and taking into account qualitative and quantitative change and exploitation potential.
Given its uranium reserves, how could Algeria stimulate the development of nuclear energy?
YOUSFI: Algeria is rich in uranium and these reserves will be explored through a national nuclear programme, intend to introduce nuclear power to our energy mix by 2025. Preliminary results of studies mapping the national energy-related infrastructure outline the development of a series of reactors, with the first expected to become operational in 2020. This will bring the nuclear power share of the electricity mix up to 13% by 2050. Algeria seeks diverse partners for cooperation in nuclear technology, the objective being to get international assistance in introducing nuclear energy, while developing technical cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
What measures can promote mining exploration?
YOUSFI: Specific initiatives have been taken to establish a favourable climate for investing in mining, and exploration in particularly. Indeed, in mining activities the bottom line is to find commercially viable deposits, while taking into account principles of sustainable development. It is at this level of activity that there is the maximum risk and the private investor is generally hesitant to take on full responsibility.
The authorities have eased legislation for exploring and developing mining projects. Work is currently in progress on a new draft law, which provides for tax exemptions on the import of goods, equipment, materials and products for mining research. The creation of a geological and mining database provides investors with access to quality data –accumulated over 50 years of state exploration programmes. The five-year programme aims to raise export volumes of mining products and meet the economy’s needs, since the sector has a significant effect on other economic areas.
What efforts may support petrochemicals growth?
YOUSFI: Petrochemicals developments will help satisfy market demand and reduce import costs, while also maximising the value added from hydrocarbons resources. The development of a wide range of petrochemicals projects will provide the foundation for an improved industry, affecting sectors including synthetic textile fibres, plastics and fertilisers. Indeed, Algeria aims to become an leading centre for the production and export of fertilisers. Similarly, the country aspires to be an important player in the international petrochemicals market, and is thus diversify its portfolio of products. As with other activities, petrochemicals development requires the mobilisation of significant capital. We must therefore encourage these investments and many initiatives have been taken. The legislative framework guarantees favourable conditions for investors – an attractive tax regime, the availability of ground plates and reduced delays for permissions.
Additionally, partnerships with petrochemicals operators are desired to improve know-how and ensure the transfer of technologies that have evolved in the past 20 years. Partnerships will help us access global markets for refined products –which have unique operating mechanisms – and share financial and other risks.
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