Interview: Ali Haddad
Given the efforts to diversify the economy, what are the prospects in the short and medium term?
ALI HADDAD: For companies to be competitive it is imperative that they operate in a favourable business climate. The FCE works for businesses to be at the centre of all government economic policies. It is clear that businesses are the main drivers of growth.
I am optimistic about the economic development of Algeria because the government has initiated reforms for the re-industrialisation of the country and improving the business climate. These reforms aim to reduce the tax burden, facilitate access to land, alleviate administrative procedures and open up more access to finance. We cannot continue to have an economic model based primarily on the use of natural resources and public spending. A strategic plan for the emergence of Algeria between 2020 and 2030 was initiated and a number of corresponding actions have already been undertaken.
What are Algeria’s competitive advantages for encouraging domestic and foreign investment?
HADDAD: We have a market of 40m people whose needs continue to grow. Furthermore, Algeria has everything it needs to be a platform to export to Africa, where it has managed to establish its diplomatic leadership and where it contributes greatly to the maintenance of peace. There are also clear comparative advantages related to energy and the cost of labour. The re-industrialisation process provides opportunities for both domestic and international companies. Algeria also has large reserves of natural and mineral resources other than oil, as well as significant agricultural potential and real opportunities for the development of tourism in all its forms: seaside, Saharan, historical, religious and so forth.
Other strengths include Algeria’s role as a key partner of the major emerging economies, including China, India and Turkey, with whom we intend to form strategic alliances. In addition, the country’s very low external debt ratio and good foreign exchange reserves add to our advantages.
What are some of the main strategic areas for economic development in Algeria?
HADDAD: The advocacy of the FCE focuses on certain sectors whose development helps to diversify the economy and reduce the import bill. These include agro-industries whose growth will ensure the country’s food security. Economic development is now always dependent on the promotion of ICT so it is also important to give special attention to this sector as well. The petrochemicals sector is important since it enables the enhancement of our natural resources. Similarly, renewable energy will provide us with a serious alternative to replace non-renewable resources. There are also niche markets to develop such as waste recycling.
What reforms are needed to encourage more public-private partnerships (PPPs) and the development of small and medium-sized enterprises?
HADDAD: PPPs are the key to the economic development of Algeria. Yet before getting to that stage, we have worked to install a framework for dialogue and consultation with public authorities to develop an action plan. This cooperation has allowed us to see real progress in solving management problems that have hindered investment and economic activity.
For successful PPPs, it is imperative to undertake a thorough reform of the administration at both the central and local levels. The modernisation of the administration is to be launched quickly so that it becomes an intermediary for investors, entrepreneurs and managers. The procedure for creating companies should no longer take several months but at most several days. The revival of our economy will only happen through the promotion of start-ups.
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