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 Algeria-2007 Year in Review

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عدد الرسائل : 2061
العمر : 34
Localisation : المملكة العربية السعودية
تاريخ التسجيل : 11/05/2007

مُساهمةموضوع: Algeria-2007 Year in Review   السبت 26 يناير - 1:47

2007 Year in Review

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Algeria's economy generally had a good year, cashing in on high energy prices, though the stubborn issue of unemployment refused to go away and an old threat - that of terrorism - thought vanquished long ago, resurfaced to plague the country.

Official inflation was kept in check during 2007, with the year-end figure estimated to be 3%, though this was in part achieved by price controls on some essential commodities. Algeria's economy expanded at 5%, driven by soaring gas and oil prices.

On the debit side, unemployment continued to hover around 15%, according to labour ministry figures. However, many analysts argue that this figure understates the jobless rate, which some put as high as 30%, affecting mainly the younger age groups of the labour pool.

As is traditionally the case, the Algerian economy was driven by its energy sector. In a statement published on December 26, Chakib Khelil, the minister of energy and mines, said Algeria earned at least $59bn from oil and gas exports in 2007, a figure tipped to rise in the coming year.

To reinforce its position as a global energy supplier, Khelil announced on December 6 that Algeria would invest $10bn in the sector in 2008, with the aim of lifting oil production from last year's level of 1.4m barrels per day (bpd) to 2m bpd by 2010. Gas output is also to be raised from 62bn cubic metres annually to 85bn by the end of the decade, the minister said.

Algeria also flexed its energy muscle in 2007, demanding the right from major gas buyers - Spain and Italy - to sell directly to their domestic markets and seeking new agreements with better terms of payment.

At the beginning of December, Khelil said Algeria was looking at disposing of long term contracts in favour of shorter-term agreements that would give it greater flexibility in pricing. Being Europe's third largest supplier of gas has put Algeria in a position of strength at the negotiating table.

Following a visit by a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late December, fund officials were positive about developments in Algeria, saying that reforms by the government of President Abdelaziz Bouteflika aimed at opening up the economy were starting to bring results.

However, with oil and gas accounting for 97% of Algeria's total exports in 2007, the IMF said Algeria needed to encourage the role of the private sector and scale back its dependence on energy sales.

The government in the main agrees with the IMF assessment, having announced earlier this year that it would commit $140bn over the coming 10 years to upgrading the infrastructure, in particular road, rail and air transport networks. One of the stated goals of these developments is to facilitate communications and the movement of non-energy trade.

While the IMF foresees a bright new year for Algeria, the country and its economy face some major hurdles in the coming 12 months and beyond. One of the greatest is the threat posed by terrorism.

2007 saw a resurgence of terrorist activity, claiming more than 200 lives and putting the country and foreign investors on edge. Though nowhere on the same scale as during the decade-long terror campaign in the 1990s - the death toll of which was around 200,000 - the new attacks served to grab headlines and undermine confidence.

Most of the attacks were claimed by the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), a radical Islamist group affiliated to al Qaeda. In 2006, GSPC warned it would target foreigners living in Algeria, a threat it carried out in mid-December with two high profile attacks, one on the United Nations' mission in Algiers which killed 17 people and another on a bus carrying foreign oil workers, which killed the Algerian driver and wounded nine people, including four Britons and an American.

For a country seeking to increase its flow of foreign direct investment and realise its potential as a leading tourism destination in the region, the wave of bombings could not have come at a worse time.

One international investor that was not deterred by the terror threat was the Dubai property developer Emaar, which announced in October it would invest $20bn in four real estate projects in and around Algiers. In what will be one of the largest foreign investments in the country, Emaar intends to start work on mixed use developments, which will include residential, recreational, retail, tourism and office space units, in the first half of 2008.

In 2007, Algeria announced plans for two other major projects, one that is to make it the leading African country in space, and the other to develop nuclear energy. In both fields, Algeria already has a foot in the door, operating one small communications satellite and possessing a low-grade nuclear reactor for experimental and medical purposes. If all goes according to plans, by the 2020s, it will have up to six nuclear reactors and 10 satellites providing communications, environmental and agricultural monitoring and mapping services.

However, in order to propel the Algerian economy into orbit, the government will have to restore stability and heed the IMF's advice to invest its energy wealth wisely.
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