Interview: Abdelghani Zalene
What strategy is being implemented to upgrade national transport infrastructure?
ABDELGHANI ZALENE: Over the past two decades the sector has been transformed through significant investment in infrastructure, equipment and human resources. These efforts include the expansion of the railway network from 4200 km to 12,500 km, coupled with the installation of up-to-date signal and telecommunications systems. Furthermore, the national rail company has implemented a development aimed at increasing transport capacity for passengers and freight.
With regards to urban transport, the strategy has been focused on introducing high-capacity, environmentally friendly solutions. These include the ongoing extension of the metro system in Algiers and the construction of new tramways in six cities, along with the expansion of the cable car, and public and private bus networks. In the aviation segment the state’s investment programmes are focused on the rehabilitation of airports and the construction of five new air traffic control towers. In addition, we are building new terminals in Algiers’ Houari Boumediene Airport (ALG) and Oran’s Ahmed Ben Bella Airport, bringing their capacity to 10m and 3.5m, respectively. Furthermore, a deal was signed in February 2018 with the Spanish ICT firm Indra Sistemas to build a new air traffic control centre in Tamanrassat. Efforts have also been made to modernise ports, and the construction of the Port of El Hamdania in Cherchell, located west of Algiers, is hoped to start in the coming months. This port is set to become a centre of trans-shipment on a regional and international scale. Lastly, the end of the freeze on private investment in maritime and aviation will boost local transport capacity through national operators and foreign investors eager to partner with a local players.
How can international firms support these goals?
ZALENE: The scale and pace of these projects highlights that international companies have a contribution to make, in accordance with current legislation. These projects require the mobilisation of significant human and material resources, as well as experience in project management. International players are well positioned to provide this expertise. Furthermore, this enables technology transfer to Algerian companies through partnerships. It is also hoped that such partnerships will strengthen the upskilling of the local workforce and support efficient project management.
What projects are being put in place to improve intermodal connectivity?
ZALENE: Several coordination bodies have been created in nine wilayas (provinces), each under a single authority that supervises all transport components. In Algiers, for instance, this organisational authority is in charge of establishing interoperability between ticket systems as well as providing an integrated and multi-modal transport offering. Infrastructure projects are being built to facilitate multi-modal connectivity and create transport nodes in both urban and rural areas. For example, the new terminal at ALG will connect to the metro and national railway network. Furthermore, the development of new technologies and mobile apps will also play a decisive role in improving connectivity for both citizens and companies.
How can the international competitiveness of the logistics sector be improved?
ZALENE: A national strategy for logistics is currently being developed in collaboration with the World Bank. Our ambition is to improve integration in order to reduce logistics costs from an estimated 35% of the product price to 15% by 2025. This will ensure increased competitiveness through the improved handling of merchandise traffic. To achieve this, a programme for the development of logistics platforms has been finalised. This forms part of a broader national plan for land development, which also embraces industrial zones.
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