Interview: Mohammed Dib
How has maritime training capacity evolved?
MOHAMMED DIB: The country owns an institute that trains navigators, but it always lacked the training resources for other maritime and logistics-related roles, which is why a dedicated, registered school for port, maritime and logistics management opened in 2015. Other important sectors under public control, such as rail transportation and oil and gas, have had dedicated training centres for a while. This new maritime training centre, composed of a team of experts, offered only a few workshops to begin with, but rapidly built relationships with other sectors involved in the maritime industry – such as insurance – to provide short training courses of up to two months.
The whole sector was aware that expertise and know-how was not being passed on from one generation to the next. To that end, a graduate training programme was implemented in 2016 to ensure a successful takeover in human resources, in partnership with the l’Ecole Supérieure de Commerce d’Alger. Two training courses in maritime expertise and logistics are now being carried out, and they are both recognised by the Ministry of Higher Education. A third one about international maritime law should be offered soon. The general level of skill and knowledge of the port and maritime sector – which is a crucial sector in Algeria – will reach another level thanks to this new connection between universities and specialised companies.
In what other areas of the industry is investment being focused, and with what goals in mind?
DIB: The country, which has a coastline of 1600 km and imports 95% of its goods by sea, is currently investing massively in its maritime and ports sector. The aim is to balance the fact that most sea freight is organised by foreign shipping firms, which represents a loss of $5bn per year for Algeria. The national freight company has less than a 3% market share. There is therefore an urgent need to modernise capacity. A plan to buy 25 new vessels – 18 cargo vessels for Compagnie Nationale de Navigation (CNAN) Nord and seven for CNAN-Med – is under way, not to mention several port upgrade projects across the country, such as the one in Cherchell. With such widespread investment in equipment and infrastructure, the country will soon need human resources to manage the new activity.
What other roles will be required in the sector in the immediate future?
DIB: There is a significant need for logistics, shipping and harbour technicians. Below the level of management, there is a shortage of operational workers in the field. There have been negotiations with the Université de la Formation to continue to develop training in this area. To enhance the global approach of this training programme, we also aim to develop partnerships with the ports of Marseilles and Antwerp, and to allow students to attend these courses remotely through online e-learning solutions.
How do you see the maritime education segment evolving to meet the demands of the industry?
DIB: We are aiming to develop new infrastructure to enhance Algeria’s training capacity in this key segment, with a new dedicated school building in the centre of Algiers. The existing school in Annaba which is an area of intense port activity in the east of the country, will also be expanded.
A partnership should be formed with the University of Annaba to create a maritime hub. As for the west of the country, currently there are some ongoing discussions with Oran’s Chamber of Commerce to provide port and maritime training. In the long run, the objective is to have a general institution that specialises in sea-related training that could even attract students from other countries in the region.
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