Interview: Amar Ghoul
How can efficiency at Algerian ports be improved?
AMAR GHOUL: One of our flagship priorities is the implementation of an electronic one-stop-shop project at the port of Algiers that should be subsequently extended to other Algerian ports. The one-stop-shop will allow us to increase the efficiency of port operations and reduce wait times by substantially alleviating management procedures. As such, we are working in coordination with Customs, trade services and the police, which need to organise themselves in a more structured framework. We also have to better use marine and port areas, as significant areas are left unused or misused by port functions, eventually undermining profitability. This can be solved through better management and training programmes. In that sense, the agreements signed with our partners are the main vehicles to modernising our port activities. Our partnership with Dubai’s marine terminal operator DP World, for instance, has been instrumental for the management of the ports of Algiers and Djen Djen.
Are projects under way to enhance port capacity?
GHOUL: The port of Algiers is being extended and modernised in order to attain a handling capacity of 1m containers per year by 2016. As for the port of Djen Djen, the current partnership should help it become a Mediterranean port, allowing Algeria to benefit from the traffic of goods on the Mediterranean level.
We have planned to open the port of Djen Djen to international trade through the development of hubs capitalising on our available space, port capacities and port interoperability. However, we need to implement a more appropriate framework to allow a significant portion of merchandise from Asia or Africa to transit through the port. This is a good transitional solution in the short to medium run, before the completion of the new great port of central Algeria. The construction of the new port is necessary, as the existing port of Algiers is saturated and already comprises a significant part of the city. It should be built between west Algiers and east Ténès and connect to the motor- and railways. This new multi-service port will ease traffic at the port of Algiers and become a key element of the country’s port activities, equipped with a modern system to deal with the growing influx of merchandise coming to the country. We are also aiming to reinforce our national fleet by fast-tracking the procedures to acquire 27 boats, including two car ferries, so that 25% of total maritime transport will be carried by Algerian ships in the short term.
What impact would a potential open-sky policy have on the Algerian aviation sector?
GHOUL: The immediate implementation of an opensky policy would drive Air Algeria and Tassili Airlines out of business. We are ready to develop bilateral cooperation with some air companies, but we must preserve and uplift local companies to international standards first. Once this is achieved, we can develop a more open approach for the Algerian aviation market.
What future developments are being planned for urban transportation in Algeria?
GHOUL: The extension of the subway of Algiers will connect the city from east to west by 2025, from Algiers airport to Draria and Chéraga. For the tramway, a third extension was inaugurated in April 2014 and the next step is the stretch connecting the Les Fusillés area to Bir Mourad Raïs with a new 4.6-km route.
Other projects are also under study in the west of the capital to obtain a homogeneous transportation network for greater Algiers between the tram, metro and train network, primarily connecting the port, airport and schools in urban areas. These means of transportation will be extended and broadened in other cities, such as Oran and Constantine.
Tramway works have been initiated in Ouargla, Sidi Bel Abbès and Mostaganem, with studies currently being conducted for the implementation of tramways in the provincial capitals of Sétif, Annaba and Batna.
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