+44 01483 457477 farolaz@hotmail.co.uk

EU/Algeria Association Agreement applicable on 1 September

Advertisements

What impact does the EU/Algeria Association Agreement applicable on 1 September 2020 will have on the Algerian economy? For that, see HKTDC review; the image above is only for illustration.

Signed on September 1, 2005, the Free Trade Association Agreement with Europe, which also applies to Morocco and Tunisia in the Maghreb, is due to come into force on September 1, 2020, after a three-year delay at Algeria’s request. Having numerous implications for the whole of Algerian society, and therefore having to be considered in the socio-economic recovery plan, the Association Agreement with the EU provides for gradual tariff dismantling. It has an impact on any business creation. At the recently chaired Council of Ministers, the President of the Republic gave guidance to reassess the economic and trade aspects of the Agreement, which has failed to achieve the expected European investment targets.

The Association Agreement, based on several objectives, has strategic implications for the future of the Algerian economy. The principles of the Association Agreement are essentially similar to those found in the WTO. This world’s member countries account for more than 95% of world trade, and the majority of OPEC and non-OPEC countries with much higher production levels than Algeria, including Saudi Arabia and Russia are members of that organisation. 

We have nine (9) impacts of this Agreement:

  • The prohibition of the use of “price duality” for natural resources, particularly oil (domestic prices lower than export prices);
  • The revision of rule 49/51% in any investment project, with Europe welcoming the recent decision to relax this rule, awaiting the implementing decree for clarification of what is strategic and what is not.
  • The general elimination of quantitative restrictions on trade (import and export);
  • The obligation to put in place quality standards to protect the health of both humans and animals (health and plant health rules);
  • All commercial state monopolies are gradually adjusted for a period of negotiation.
  • The urgent need to integrate the dominant informal sphere (50% of economic activity, 33% of the money supply in circulation).
  • Economic cooperation will have to take into account the essential component of preserving the environment and ecological balances.
  • concerning the impact on energy services, if these agreements can have little effect on the upstream hydrocarbon market, the same cannot be said about all downstream hydrocarbon products. That must be subject anyway to European and international competition and the opening up of the energy services market to competition.

The EU acknowledges that between 2005 and 2019 Algerian imports from Europe are about $320 billion and that Algerian non-hydrocarbon exports were only about $15 billion. But according to the EU, for any objective analysis, oil and gas imports must be included, (over 400 billion dollars between 2005/2019) which would give a balanced overall trade balance, that apart from the hydrocarbons, Algeria can export to Europe. If Algeria has not benefited from the Association Agreement, it is because structural reforms under an internal decision in Algeria have not been carried out. Europe being a regulatory institution, cannot force firms to invest in each country, the latter being attracted by the profit function of the business environment that Algeria must improve.   For Algeria, it is Europe that has not fulfilled its commitments with a growing imbalance of its non-hydrocarbon trade balance committed to fostering a diversified economy and that Algeria has always advocated for the strengthening of dialogue and “dialogue” between Algeria and Algeria. European Union (EU) with a view to “densifying” bilateral relations in the mutual interest and balance of parts to face the common security and development challenges in a win-win partnership, not wanting to be seen as a mere market. To the concerns raised by the EU regarding its market share in Algeria as a result of the measures taken by the Algerian government in a very particular context, the balance of payments deficit, provided for by the Agreement would not be unique to Algeria as evidenced long before the coronavirus epidemic. For its part, according to the European Commission, there will be no question of revising the Framework Agreement, that applies to all countries that have signed the Agreement. Algeria should not be an exception, but not it is not only economic adjustments that would revive cooperation between Algeria and the EU to give this Agreement its full importance. Europe is not against a revision of the Agreement. Still, it wants the creation of a stable and transparent legal framework, conducive to investment, as well as the reduction of subsidies, the modernisation of the financial sector, and the development of the potential of public-private partnerships which are part of the necessary structural reforms that still need to be carried out. For Europe, geostrategically, Algeria is a crucial player in regional stability and energy supply. According to the EU executive in its report on the progress of EU-Algeria relations dated May 03, 2018, and in Reports between 2019 and 2020, the European Union welcomes Algeria’s security and defence efforts in the region. 

So, what prospects to prepare Algeria for new global challenges?   In August 2020, the analysis of the socio-economic situation highlights that the rent of hydrocarbons where oil/gas with derivatives accounts for 98% of the country’s foreign exchange inflows (noble products not exceeding $600 million in 2019). the unemployment rate, and the level of foreign exchange reserves that keep the dinar’s rating at more than 70% (our interviews Monde.fr/AFP Paris 10/08/2020 and France24/AFP on Accord 23/08/2020). It is that Europe remains a key partner for Algeria, as evidenced by Algeria’s foreign trade structure for 2019. For the main suppliers, Algeria’s top five suppliers account for 50.33% of total imports, China being the main supplier (with a large trade imbalance against Algeria between 2010/2019 ) contributed 18.25% of Algeria’s imports, followed by France, Italy, Spain and Germany with shares of 10.20%, 8.13%, 6.99% and 6.76%. For the main customers, during the year 2019, Algeria’s top five customers account for almost 50.85% of Algerian exports, with France being Algeria’s main customer with a 14.11% share, followed by Italy, Spain, Great Britain and Turkey with shares of 12.90%, 11.15%, 6.42% and 6.27%. In terms of the distribution of Algeria’s trade (import and export) by geographical area during the year 2019, the bulk of trade remains focused on traditional partners. The volume of trade with America, Africa and Oceania fell by 18.42% in 2019, compared with 2018 from $17.10 billion to $13.95 billion and Africa, contrary to some speeches, did not exceed $2.8 billion, and certainly down for 2020. European countries accounted for a 58.14% share of the total value of trade in 2019, amounting to USD 45.21 billion compared to USD 51.96 billion in 2018. Asian countries are the second largest trade flows with a share of 23.92%, from USD 19.07 billion to more than US$18.60 billion for the periods under review. So what are the prospects for Algeria to prepare for new global challenges (decentralisation, digital and energy transition)? 

The future of the Algerian economy is based on seven strategic parameters (our interview website Maghreb Voices 18/10/2020): 

  1. improve the business climate, where bureaucratic power discourages real investors, with greater coherence of institutions, around five to six main regional poles. A total decentralisation for the essential blockage in Algeria is the central and local bureaucracy that paralyses any creative initiative;
  2. the urgent reform of the socio-educational system, from primary to secondary and higher education, including vocational training, the pillar knowledge of the 21st century, land; 
  3. the control of public expenditure, costs and the fight against overcharging and corruption;  
  4. in the medium and long term, non-hydrocarbon growth must be part of the fourth global economic revolution based on the digital and energy transition; 
  5. controlling demographic pressure and urbanisation for a balanced and supportive space; 
  6. the reform requires the transparency of Sonatrach instead of production of the year explaining the audit demanded by the President of the Republic., for a turnover of 50 billion dollars, better management of 20% saves 10 billion e dollars per year; 
  7. the urgency is the reform of the financial system and the overhaul of the financial system and in its fundamental component. Indeed, a rentier oligarchy used the customs system for overcharging for lack of a table of value linked to the international network, (price, cost/quality weight); the un-digitised state system favouring the squandering of land; the un-digitised tax system promoting tax evasion, the public banking system with huge loans granted without real guarantees, in addition to interest rate increases, without correlation with the impacts on wealth creation.

In summary, it should be realistic to avoid reasoning in terms of a nation-state because only internationally competitive public or private enterprises can export, with the regulatory state playing as a facilitator, with market segments controlled by large firms by large geographical spaces. I think that despite these cyclical differences, it is a matter as I pointed out a few years ago at a conference, at the invitation of the European Parliament in Brussels, to de-outsiderdom with relations because of the stability of the two shores of the Mediterranean and Africa. It requires us to undertake together (see our study IFR French Institute of International Relations Paris 2011 the Europe Maghreb cooperation in the face of geostrategic issues). 

Our partners well received the President’s last speech on the desire for openness to the productive domestic and international private sector. The entrepreneur and direct operator state must gradually be erased to make way for a government exercising public power in its natural missions of arbitration and regulation. I am convinced that through productive dialogue relations between Algeria and Europe will find a solution guaranteeing mutual interests, which does not exist in the practice of sentiment business, the aim is to foster a win-win partnership. Algeria can establish a diversified economy and become a pivotal country and factor of stability of the Mediterranean and African region. In short, to project itself in the future, new governance is necessary.  

University professor, international expert Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, ademmebtoul@gmail.com

A Global Revolution in the Information System

Advertisements

Institutions and businesses face a global revolution in the information system that unlike in the past, results in too much information especially if left unused or mishandled. The consequences of such a situation are debated here by Professor A. Mebtoul of Algeria.

With the new information system, unlike in the past, there is too much information. The credibility of the statistical apparatus and the operative selection of this mass of information could induce problems of adapting to the new global digital revolution. That has an impact on the behaviour of citizens as well as on the management of institutions. It is because the further information and communication technologies (ICTs) have implications for political governance, business and administrative management, and also have an impact on our modern way of life, which refers to knowledge and continuous innovation.

Politicians, entrepreneurs, citizens, we all live today in a society of electronic communication, plural and immediate that forces us to make decisions in real-time. The mastery of time being the main challenge of the century, in this 21st century, committing national security any inadequacy to these changes would further isolate the country. This analysis of these global information and technological changes and the impact on the Algerian economy, I developed at length in the American Herald Tribune of August 11, 2018[1].

The new information system, a global revolution

ICT is a set of technologies used to process, modify, and exchange information specifically digitised data. The birth of ICT is due to the convergence of IT, telecommunications and audiovisual. The development of high-speed Internet, the democratisation of computers and new technologies are the result of lower rates offered by ISPs and growing demand from customers.

The boom in blogs and e-mail is giving ICT an increasingly important place in our society. This interaction between electronics and computing explains why ICT applications can meet the needs of businesses and the state as well as households and individuals. Now subject to the same market laws as any other market production activity, ICT is also a sector where competition is directly played out on a global scale.

The globalisation of companies, markets and financial circuits has not only involved a reshaping of economic structures and exchange flows, but it has also led to the professionalisation of communication and information, as well as an increasingly advanced integration of the phases of product design, creation and consumption. , in parallel with the merger of spheres of activity that were once separated or even opposed. More than opening up to the general public, ICT is revolutionising the internal organisation of the business world. Management software called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) manages different tasks such as inventory or treasury, collaborative work.

Through the use of intranet and messaging, the “wireless” or “online” system maintains a permanent link with employees on the go as well as video conferencing, all of this generates better sharing and internal information flow. Thus, the world became a large glasshouse.  The Internet’s infrastructure is now spreading across the globe to create a massive global network thanks to the computing that today allows information to be digitised and new systems managed. The integration of telecommunications, it and audiovisual technology has given rise to the Information Society, which is the subject of specific attention from states and international organisations.

This interest has been increased for more than a decade because of the socio-economic and cultural benefits of new Information and Communication Technologies (ICT): the “digital divide” transcends geographical divides and crosses all human societies. This is because the new means of telecommunications facilitate the exchange and dissemination of knowledge. These new ICTs are therefore profoundly changing the daily lives of citizens, the functioning of businesses and the state. All of this leads to new mental and social representations. This is more obvious at the multimedia level (TV, video on demand, GPS, music) on mobile phones.

On the macroeconomic front, new ICT processes have implications for the value of products and services, which will be more life-cycled, which tends to be shortened and influences productivity gains and ICT-related growth. ICTs also influence scientific and technical research and indirectly enable discoveries that have a new macroeconomic effect. Finally, ICTs have an impact in many other areas such as leisure, culture, health, time management and social behaviour. The advent of the Internet and the tremendous development it has undergone through in recent years have practically put the company, of any importance, at a critical notice to adapt and make the most appropriate and productive use of it. Competitiveness requires it to obtain or give information in real-time; the company will indeed invest the Web and use electronics to face competition and develop its activities. In recent years, ICTs have been able to set up models of work organisation, the main characteristics of which are decentralisation and flexibility. The phenomenon of offshoring of employment is mainly due to the search for productivity gains and opportunities offered by ICT to companies, especially those that are large: online remote work is an everyday reality.

Mastering Economic Intelligence, the Foundation of National Security

Economic Intelligence and its strategic management have become for a nation and enterprise in a particular way, one of the essential drivers of its overall performance and safety. In practice, economic intelligence is a process arising from the intelligence cycle. The information collected helps build a conviction throughout processing and not confirms the erroneous opinion that an actor might initially have.

A formalised need-expression step allows research to be “targeted” by defining a limited perimeter, an essential step to avoid the accumulation of unnecessary data and thus to be equipped with counterproductive information overload. All the fields that complement Economic Intelligence, such as knowledge management, information protection, lobbying, can be grouped into the global concept of Strategic Intelligence. Economic intelligence incorporates two additional dimensions compared to the previous day: decision-making and knowledge of information.

The Economic Intelligence model covers three concepts. We first have data that are numbers, words, current events outside a conceptual frame of reference. Then we have the information, which is the accumulation of data, processed and transformed that become information, validated, and confronted, that begins to make sense. Finally, we have the knowledge that is the set of interpreted information that makes it possible to make decisions. The passages through these three concepts are done in the following way. I want the right information at the right time. For this, it is necessary to define objectives; search and collect data sort and store the data and finally have relevant information. How can I make the information useful? Once the overall information objectives have been set, and research, collection, sorting. Storage missions have been validated, and information must be analysed, results used to highlight aspects that help in decision-making. From then on, the transition from knowledge to intelligence arises. The culture of managers, both political, military and economic, must be changed.

The decision-making system is not a fixed system. It must adapt and evolve; for this, it is necessary to share information, assess the quality and relevance of decisions and the question itself. It is essential to integrate it into the functions of administration and business to make economic intelligence a real competitive advantage. The process approach allows for better coordination of steps to make the most of the information repository for effective action on the administration or the company or its environment through complex interactions. A nation or a company will be better than its competitors if it has, before the others, the right information at the right time, whether it is market knowledge, legal, technological, normative or other information.

A nation or an enterprise must be able to create an information asymmetry to its advantage to build its competitive advantage concerning security, political, economic and technological issues. It is also for this reason that governments are assisting in the education and education of business leaders so that they can use economic intelligence to strengthen their management skills. Hence the support to companies for access to the large volumes of information on international trade held by departmental departments and agencies, the Intelligence and Counterintelligence Services, setting up an economic information service for the benefit of companies engaged in foreign trade. Industrial property in various aspects (patents, trademarks, models, know-how, copyrights, technology monitoring, secrecy, software protection, technology transfer, licensing agreements, competition law, etc.) is becoming a major issue. Many companies try to extract from their competitors’ technologies, customer files, trade secrets, product cost structures, product manufacturing specifications and procedures, and development plans. Since the advent of intranets and extranets, information has spread more quickly and widely across borders, acquiring such strategic value that the challenge now is to appropriate it. This is why currently, the majority of developed states contribute to ensuring the security control of internal databases within companies to deal with data hacks. The motivations of hackers have evolved: from software piracy by amateurs whose main motivation was to steal for their personal use, we have moved to “professional” hacking of an economic nature (misappropriation of money) and industrial hacking, close to espionage. Beyond the technical risks imposed by the Tic, the security of computer data begins with securing and raising awareness of human resources. Communications interceptions have also evolved. From wiretapping, we’ve gone to intercepting e-mail. When an e-mail is sent in the usual way, it is not encrypted and can pass through a dozen proxies that mark the route to its destination. However, for technical but also legal reasons, they keep a copy of the messages received. The information contained in the message and the attached files can, therefore, be read by as many proxies managers. Document thefts occur not only remotely or not accessing a computer or server but also in the most unexpected way by photocopiers. Each time a document is copied on a modern copier, the machine’s hard drive stores a copy. As a result, they have become real computerised storage centres, often without the knowledge of company managers and employees. The most modern copiers and multifunction machines store information before printing it. Computer experts can, therefore, retrieve this information, especially since most of them are usually connected to a network, either via a PC (shared printer) or through a clean IP address.

Algeria faces the challenges of the globalisation of the information society

Every day, new technological advances make previous advances more obsolete.  The challenges – in terms of opportunities and risks of marginalisation – the ICT’s influence on growth and social development. This delay is also due in part to the problem of negative attitudes and attitudes that hinder the implementation of innovative and exciting projects, proposed by specialists. An Algerian study shows that only 15% of Algerian SMEs out of the 321,000 surveyed use information and communication technologies (ICT) in their activities according to the National Agency for the Development of SMEs. In the 2019 ranking of the Bloomberg Innovation Index, which measures the impact of innovation in the economy, it is also based on seven criteria: research and development, manufacturing value-added, productivity, high-tech density, tertiary sector efficiency, the concentration of researchers, number of patents.  Algeria is absent from the top 50.  This absence is due to the lack of use and development of ICT in daily life, notably the absence of E-payment and E-Education.   Another ranking is that Algeria has one of the slowest Internet connections in the world. In the latest “Worldwide broadband speed league 2018”,  which annually reports on the speeds of no less than 200 countries (the ranking having been established based on 163 million tests concerning 200 countries),

Algeria, with a download speed of 1.25 Mbps (Megabits), found itself in 175th place. According to this report, it would take 9 hours and 7 minutes for an Algerian Internet user to download a 5GB film (gigabit). In contrast, this time is only 11 minutes and 18 seconds in Singapore, first in the ranking, with a speed of 60.39 Mbps. Furthermore, according to the 2018 edition released on December 5, 2018, of the Global Knowledge Index, developed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), that measures the multidimensional concept of knowledge based on seven sector indices, Algeria is ranked 104th out of the 134 studied countries. As for the Global Innovation Index, a global ranking of countries based on their capacity and results of economic innovation published annually by Cornell University, the European Institute of Business Administration (INSEAD) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 2018, out of a total of 126 countries, Algeria achieved a score of 23.87 points out of 100, down two places from 2017.   According to the latest edition of the biennial United Nations survey on India’s 2018 E-Government Development in the world, published on July 19 2018 “as a general rule, there is a positive correlation between the country’s income level and its ranking in electronic administration. High-income countries have very high or high EGDI scores. It is not universal, however. Twenty-two upper-middle-income countries and 39 lower-middle-income countries have EGDI scores below the global average of EGDI, and ten countries in the lower-middle-income group have scores above the global average. On the other hand, low-income countries remain lagging due to the relatively low level of development of all components of the index.”

For national security reasons, Algeria’s information system needs to be redesigned 

Statistics are now abundant at all national, regional and global levels, and playing an increasingly important role in our societies and public administrations. They inform public debates, policy formulation and business decision-making, thus raising the issue of the intrinsic quality, compilation and selection of information. In Algeria, however, this information-gathering system needs to be redesigned.  Ideally, it would be a Ministry of the Economy with a strategic planning directorate and a National Statistics (ONS) that like the INSEE in France, Great Britain, Germany or the United States of America, is an independent body with an analysis department. It must be part of another institutional organisation that is moving towards the consolidation of ministries for greater efficiency and budgetary rigour, economic regionalisation.

Subject to specific objectives, with several local authorities and institutions not telescoping each other nor making information opaque for reasons of individualised strategies.  What are short-term parameters can become variable in the medium term, and what is the strategic sector today may not become so tomorrow. Of course, the ONS not meant to assess current public policies delivers what others interpret its figures by recognising that better inter-institutional coordination between the various and abundant administrative sources and the board would be desirable, calling for more “coherence and integration”. It is because the ONS starts from the micro-economic data of administrations and companies by consolidating them at the macro-economic level. This inconsistency, fostered by an inconsistent pricing system in which administered prices and market prices compiled together, does not allow us to identify the sincerity of the accounts and can lead to mismanagement and even corruption. If the essential information is biased, it gives results at the global level that does not reflect reality. And this is what we see with the crumbling of the information system, where the polling bases are different from one organisation to another resulting in data that contradicts the reality. Therefore, survey methods need to be standardised, whether comprehensive or surveyed. Above all, information must be democratised by opening up the massive media to a broad and contradictory economic debate, as no one has a monopoly on nationalism. However, monetary policy errors can amount to losses of tens of billions of dollars to the country. The crumbling of the information system explains the contradictory discourses of several senior officials; entropy has reached an unacceptable level in recent years.

For transparency, the foundation of good governance, accelerate the digitisation of institutions and companies

The 21st-century world is on the cusp of a fourth economic and technological revolution, based on two fundamentals of good governance and knowledge economy.  This revolution, with the trajectory of the digital transition and the energy transition, means that any nation that does not advance is going backwards, that there is no static situation. The majority of paper newspapers are likely to disappear by 2020/2025, if they do not adapt to the new revolution, replaced by online sites that give real-time information. I recall that, as Director-General of Economic Studies and first advisor to the Court of Auditors, I was appointed by the then Presidency in 1983 to deal with the issue of demurrage. This issue is still relevant and made urgent, given budgetary constraints. These numerous raft boats cause large foreign exchange outflows. I had suggested, about the services of the Ministry of Commerce, of the finances and various ministerial departments concerned, the urgency to combat both demurrage and overcharging the establishment of a value table by setting up a networked and real-time information system between ports, customs, banks, tax services and connected to international networks to know the real-time prices of imported goods. 

“The statistics available are not accurate; those who oppose digitisation do not want transparency”:  Abdelmadjid TEBBOUNE, President of the Republic.

As the President of the Republic has pointed out, those who oppose the digitisation of institutions and businesses do not want either to move forward nor plan for a future in full knowledge of all potential possibilities in as clear an atmosphere as can be had.  An example would be the management of ministries, governorates (wilayas) and the majority of services that still follow the methods of the 1960s/1970s with techniques. The urgency of transparency in the management of SONATRACH which provides 98% of the country’s foreign exchange revenues, the financial system as a whole, which must make its transformation, being currently, mere administrative counters, place of interest struggles and distribution of the oil rente. A rentier oligarchy has used, the customs system for overcharges for lack of a table of value linked to the international network, (price, weight costs/quality).  The present state system that promotes land squandering; the undigitised tax system that leads to tax evasion, the public banking system that allows enormous loans without real guarantees and interest rate bonuses, with collaboration, without correlation of business would require a radical change.  In this context, bureaucracy, the legacy of an administered economy, is one of the heaviest constraints and whose eradication is necessary.  The new system should instil the dynamics of development in the context of a controlled liberalisation reconciling economic efficiency and social justice.  The latter not being antinomic with efficiency, on the contrary, would prompt the mobilisation of citizens for a new Algeria. The less different the reforms, the more we will deplete the foreign exchange reserves, and this crisis of governance risks turning into a financial, economic and political turmoil with the risk of regional destabilisation.  ademmebtoul@gmail.com


[1] “Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul: “Algeria Still Faces Significant Challenges” and three parts in the international site AfricaPresse Paris on the challenges of Algeria 2018/2020/2030 as follows:

  1. “Algeria’s development involves the reform of the political system”
  2. “There is an urgent need to adapt Algerian political parties, for the majority related to rentier interests” and
  3. “No development for Algeria without strategic vision of the transition to a non-hydrocarbon economy”

The West Mediterranean, a basin for the mixing of cultures

Advertisements

The West Mediterranean, a basin for the mixing of cultures and fruitful dialogue between different civilisations.

Following a Meeting of the 5+5 in Marseille 23 and 24 June 2019, this contribution was my intervention as member of Algeria’s delegation headed by the Minister of Foreign Affairs before the various foreign representations and the President of the French Republic as part of The 5+5 Dialogue.  A sub-regional forum for the ten Western Mediterranean countries that take part since its creation, five from the north of the Mediterranean (Spain, France, Italy, Malta and Portugal) and five from the southern shore (Algeria, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania and Tunisia), all working in the hope for concrete results for the benefit of both sides of the Mediterranean western basin.

The Algerian delegation delighted with Marseille, the seat of different cultures and venue for this final meeting where in a few months, we have carried out an important work showing the vitality of civil society in the western Mediterranean. It was not that obvious at the outset.  From April to June 2019, civil society in the western Mediterranean on both sides worked together to bring concrete solutions to the region “through the implementation of concrete projects for human, economic and sustainable development. We hope that all of these reflections and proposals for initiatives will be shared today with leaders at this summit in Marseille to determine which ones will be implemented as a priority, the means and mechanisms to be implemented to forge strong links in all areas around the Mediterranean in order to boost cooperation, based on the conviction that civil society must be fully involved in the definition of a new “positive” agenda. I recall that recently with renowned experts from Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania and Libya and 15 European personalities during 2015 and 2016, we produced under my direction and that of my friend Camille Sari two books (1050 pages), one on political institutions, the other economic in all its diversity entitled “The Maghreb in the face of geostrategic issues published by Harmattan Editions, following on from my contributions on this subject at the level of The French Institute of International Relations between 2011 and 2013 on Europe-Maghreb relations.

The ideas are not new but unfortunately have not been realized. I recall that during a meeting almost similar at the UNESCO in 1993 at the initiative of Pierre Moussa with Mr. Thom Bekki then Vice-President of South Africa on the theme – Africa-Maghreb as part of the strategy Euro-Mediterranean, I had advocated in my speech the creation of both a Euro-Mediterranean university as a place of fertilization of cultures, against intolerance, and a Euro-Mediterranean bank and stock exchange with financial instruments adapted to the situation for the realization of concrete projects by promoting decentralized networks of economic, social and cultural actors, involving international financial institutions and traditional banks.  I reiterate these proposals for this summit of 5+5 in addition to the creation of an economic and social council at the level of the Western Mediterranean (5+5) whose vocation is to bring together the different segments of civil society, experience if successful could be extended to a global civil society bringing together the different regions of our planet in order to combat insecurity, migration and thus promote a balanced and global solidarity space.

It is in this context that I would like to welcome the initiative of His Excellency the President of the French Republic, Mr Emmanuel Macron, to whom Algeria has given its support from the outset. This initiative, it seems to me, is part of the new transformation of the world, ecological challenges, the breakthrough of digital and artificial intelligence to witness between 2025/2030/2040 a fourth global economic revolution based on knowledge, which will influence all international relations, recalling the conclusions of COP 21 and COP 22, which calls on all humanity for a solidarity future. The 21st century will have three strategic actors forging dialectical links: states that must adapt to globalization (the centralized bureaucratic Hegelian state is outdated, the North African states have unfortunately copied the French Jacobin system, a blocking factor for reforms as shown by my friend Jacques Attali, the international institutions that need to be renovated with the massive entry of emerging countries including China, and civil society which will play an increasingly important role more predominant, non-antinomic with the other two players but complementary. The common hope is that this important meeting will be able to turn the Mediterranean basin into a lake of peace, tolerance and shared prosperity based on a win/win partnership far from any spirit of domination, through tolerance and dialogue cultures of which I am deeply attached.

Algeria is a strategic player in the Mediterranean and Africa since it played an essential role in the various meetings in preparation for the 5+5 meeting where it proposed concrete projects with a regional impact, favouring economic interests and the stability of the region, taking into account the transformation of the world. Algeria, endowed with the issue of Energy Transition, proposed projects from civil society, where the work of the Forum in Algiers organized in the form of four thematic sessions, namely: Renewable Energy and Energy efficiency; Electrical interconnections, Natural Gas as the engine of an energy transition and the digital transformation of the energy sector.  It is that energy will be at the heart of the sovereignty of states and their security policies and their economic dynamics alter the balance of power on a global scale and affect political recompositions within countries as regional spaces. The energy transition refers to other subjects than technical, posing the societal problem. It can be viewed as the passage of human civilization built primarily fossil, polluting, abundant, and inexpensive energy, to a civilization where energy is renewable, scarce, expensive, and less polluting with the objective of eventually replacing energies stocks (oil, coal, gas, uranium) with flows of energies (wind, solar). This raises the problem of a new model of growth and consumption: all economic sectors and households are concerned. The important potentials of all forms of energy in the Mediterranean, that of wind or sun, or of fossil fuels present in its subsoil, can make this area contacts between millennia-old civilizations, which have always been subject to political tensions, a new energy region of the world, at the gates of Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Crossroads of three continents, fragile from an environmental point of view, the Mediterranean basin is also a region that provides energy, such as those of the wind or the sun, or fossil fuels present in its subsoil. The energy mix of tomorrow will be electrically dominant, as the electricity market is expected to increase by almost 80% by 2040. Solar thermal for export, combined with photovoltaic for internal consumption needs, is expected to be the most important resource for electricity generation. Hybridization with gas should already allow it to be competitive. Electric highways in continuous current to cross the Mediterranean could be used to meet the growing needs of Europe’s Mediterranean coast and superconductivity completed by liquid hydrogen cooling will be the most medium-term solution to meet the needs of Northern Europe.

After the mixed results of the Barcelona Agreement and the Union for the Mediterranean, let us hope that this summit can lead to concrete results for the benefit of the people of the region. I am convinced only the culture of tolerance will allow our space, in the face of the new challenges of globalization, to meet the challenges of the 21st century in the face of fierce competition, including the breakthrough of emerging countries, the rise of global terrorism threat, the rise of protectionism detrimental to the growth of the world economy, existing a dialectical link between security and development, to the dangers of populism.  Finally, co-development in the Mediterranean via the continent Africa issue of the 21st century can, as I pointed out recently in interviews with AFRICAPRESSE.PARIS and the American Herald Tribune, curb ensure security and avoid destabilization that would have geostrategic repercussions for the entire Mediterranean and African region.

I wanted to stress during this meeting on behalf of Algeria, that a strategic player at the regional level will contribute to the success, based on a win-win partnership, of this enormous undertaking, an old dream, forging our common Mediterranean consciousness.  I quote the conclusion of my speech: “Mr. President of the French Republic, you, who are the age of my son, hope that all together leaders of the 5+5 and civil societies of our region, supported by international institutions, will realize this old dream that I defend with the many Maghreb and European friends, for more than 30 years the Mediterranean, a place of mixing of cultures, tolerance and fruitful dialogue between different civilizations, our common destiny being to do business together.”

Finally, as I pointed out in an interview with Jeune Afrique, Paris on June 24, 2019, far from any vision of disaster, Algeria’s future holds immense hope as at the end of my interview, and I quote: “Our youth and the National People’s Army have shown unwavering maturity. But it is imperative to move beyond the current status-quo before the end of 2019 with transparent elections, as a longer transition period could inevitably lead the country to an economic and social drift. And as in economics, lost time is never caught back, the productive dialogue with concessions on both sides for Algeria being its benefit, accompanied by a profound restructuring of parties and civil society based on new networks, is the only way out of the current crisis.”

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

The cries Algeria’s youth for a profound change must be heard

Advertisements
Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul, Economist, Expert international. © DR at AP.P

In this long plea where he begins by paying homage to the Algerian youth, Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul analyses the handicaps, both political and economic, which overwhelm Algeria despite its immense potential. Then projecting himself into the perspective, he evokes the scenarios of the future and pleads with a lot of arguments and a great conviction, for “an indispensable global reform” (…) by flattening the differences through dialogue and consultation.  He notably insists that The cries Algeria’s youth for a profound change must be heard.

So, here is this contribution from Prof. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, Economist, International Expert as posted on AFRICAPRESSE. PARIS on March 5, 2019, in French.

The strong mobilization of 22 February and 1st March implies a good analysis of the aspirations of civil society. Certainly not the rentier living in the salons, but the one that we saw on the street, the youth who does not want to be recovered.

The lesson given to the leader of the Workers’ Party, which was booed, should serve as lessons. At a time when the world is experiencing political, social and economic upheavals, where Algeria is being challenged by some 70% of its population claiming genuine democratic reforms – a condition of harmonious and sustainable development in the face of the relentless globalization – we must pay a great homage to our youth who have not experienced the drama of the years 1990-1999, and yet want a change.

Let us salute its political maturity and peaceful marches without violence, where political parties in all tendencies have played no role in mobilizing. Let us also salute our security forces who have managed in a modern way these events which must be meditated profoundly by the parties of power and their satellites – weakly representative, not to say non-representative – as well as by any of the opposition, which was off-track.

A partisan system disconnected from the society

According to some sources, the number of political parties is approaching sixty, often with unnatural alliances, whereas in democratic countries these alliances are made by ideological affinity and a clear programme.

Also, except for ten of them, the others show a formal and ostentatious presence in the elections… Furnishing the emptiness, powerless almost always to act on the course of things and to articulate clearly the concerns and aspirations of the real society.

Because of the internal crises that periodically shake them, the discredit that strikes the majority of them, the defiance of them and the partisan activism, the current political formations today have a low capacity to carry out a work of mobilization and efficient management, to contribute significantly to the political socialising, and thus to make an effective contribution to the work of national recovery.

As proof, the last parliamentary elections, both 2012 and 2017: considering the null and official data of the Ministry of the Interior, the 3/4 of the Algerian population are not represented by the elected officials.

The discredit which strikes political groups, both from the power and from the opposition, must give way to credible, non-artificially created formations, subject therefore to the possibility of an objective assessment of the status and role which must be theirs in a society that aspires to join the ranks of democratic societies. These formations will have to be more capable of mobilizing society than in the years to come, reforms – long deferred to guarantee a fictitious, transient social peace – will be very painful.

An atomized civil society with an informal dominant

Civil society in Algeria is shattered. Contrary to the accepted and illusory ideas of past years, in a context of social disintegration and “satellite TV” youth, most official religious brotherhoods have less and less impact.

On the other hand, the confusion that currently prevails in the national association movement makes it difficult to devise a strategy to take into account and mobilize it. Its diversity, the politico-ideological currents that pass through it and its complex relationship to society and the State add to this confusion and make imperative an urgent reflection for its restructuring, its current state reflecting the major fractures have occurred in the national political system. Thus, it will soon be divided into four fundamentally different civil societies: three at the level of the real sphere and one dominant in the informal sphere.

The most important segment of this civil society, the privileged and often unique interlocutor of the public authorities, is constituted by appendages of power, located on the periphery of the parties in power and whose officials are sometimes deputies, senators, living in large part of the transfer of the rentier annuity. In fact, those who pride themselves on mobilizing millions of voters live in air-conditioned lounges, disconnected from society.

The second segment is that of a civil society frankly rooted in the Islamist movement, with there also appendages of legal Islamic parties.

The third segment is that of a civil society claiming the democratic movement. Poorly structured, despite the relatively large number of associations that comprise it, and undermined by contradictions in relation, among others, with the question of leadership. For these first three civil societies, their impact on the turnout in the last local and legislative elections, despite their accession, was relatively low.

We finally have an informal, unorganized, totally atomized civil society. It is by far the most active and important, as well as we saw on February 22nd and the 1st March 2019, with precise codifications forming a dense mesh.

Without the intelligent integration of this informal sphere – not by authoritarian bureaucratic measures, but by the involvement of society itself – it will not be necessary to rely on a real dynamism of civil society. Because when a state wants to impose its own rules disconnected from social practices, the society has its own rules that allow it to function with its own organizations.

Three scenarios for Algeria from 2019 to 2025

The dynamism of the partisan system and of civil society in order to make it an effective instrument of the framing of forces and a powerful lever of their mobilization is likely to succeed only if the movement that composes it, is not in the service of ambitions personal unmentionable and sometimes dubious.

We can foresee the different scenarios possible depending on the state of the power relations at the internal level, considering the evolution of the strategy of the actors at the external level.

The first scenario: failure of the reform process.

The conditions of failure are real and combined in the legal and economic environment in case of lack of visibility and coherence in the economic and social approach. Risk accentuated by the annuitants at the internal level and certain segments of external actors maintaining informal relations and who are not interested in deepening the reforms (loss of contracts in case of transparent tender notices).

On the other hand, the ambiguity of legal texts allows for the legal blockade of reforms, while the multiplicity of speakers allows for the confusion of prerogatives. Other parameters contributing to the risk of failure: the fragility of internal private investment capacity, stabilization plans that have made forced savings to the detriment of the average layers that have impoverished; the mistrust generated by internal and external investors through continual changes in legislation, while the stability must be rigorous; populist speeches on account settlements on the sensitive subject of taxation, and finally the high pressure of a fraction of the internal and external actors linked to the interests of the annuity, that to preserve protectionist postures because the liberalisation Destroyed a fraction of the annuity.

The second scenario is the status quo.

It would lead to the regression for both social and physical, the world being in perpetual motion. This hypothesis will prepare the conditions of failure by imputing the current social conditions (poverty and unemployment) to reforms, which, except macroeconomic stabilization, are timid in Algeria (microeconomic and institutional reforms, Issues of future years), or to technical bodies while petrol is the absence of political will (neutralization of power relations).

This status quo will participate in a programmed failure and would be suicidal for the future of the economy and Algerian society. This is maintained by the confusion of some concepts assimilating false reforms to the sale of national heritage.

Thus, according to the proponents of this analysis, the reforms would be dictated by the major global oil companies, the IMF and the World Bank. A posture reminding us of the Times of the Inquisition against those who advocated the market economy and the establishment of democracy.

The third scenario is the success of solidarity-specific political and economic reforms as contained in the legal, economic and political environment of Algeria, thanks to a youth increasingly aware of the country’s future issues.

The rupture of the previous system, in view of historical experiences, only occurred through violent but short-lived revolutions. Successful experiences have shown that the gradualist pathway inserting the Conservatives into a reformist dynamic has involved a profound redevelopment of the structures of power and new people acquired in the reforms with cultural demystification, the devastating rumours in the opinion are only the translation of the weakness of the communication system, especially in Algeria where the oral route is predominant.

There is, therefore, therefore, an urgent need for close cooperation between the supporters of the reforms, the political parties, the associations and, in general, all civil society, the administration, public and private enterprises, the collectives of Workers, trade unions, flattening differences through dialogue and consultation.

The goal will be to make the strategic objective emerge through a symbiosis of individual interests and collective interest, showing that the medium-term winners of the reforms will be more numerous than the short-term losers.

The support of external actors for their interests in order to avoid the negative effects of the Destabilisation, but above all the mobilisation of the favorable internal actors because no country can make the reforms in our place, the fate of Algeria is in the hands of Algerian and Algerian.

Algeria, an indispensable actor for Euro-Mediterranean and African stability, can lead to a process of inseparable reforms of a profound democratisation of its society. In the business world, feelings do not exist, only reforms will allow economic growth and the reduction of the nagging problems of unemployment and poverty. Any obstacle to these reforms only decreases the rate of growth, increases the country’s insecurity and, Over there, contributes to social and political destabilization. Time being money, any delay in the process of reforms could result in more important social costs that could be supported by the most disadvantaged.

A strategic vision to surpass a multifaceted crisis

It is time to have foresight in the medium and long term, in order to correct the mistakes of the past, like navigating on sight by ignoring the aspirations of society.

The strategic question is: shall we go towards a real salutary change by reorganizing society, due to the global geostrategic upheavals announced between 2019-2025-2030 or, thanks to the passive distribution of the annuity, shall we simply replaster, postponing the inevitable social tensions?

These are important enough reasons to seriously consider reorganizing the partisan system and civil society so that they can fulfil the function that is them in any democratic political system that reconciles modernity with our authenticity, far from administrative injunctions.

The redesign of the state, including administration, integration of the informal sphere, reforms of financial, fiscal, customs and socio-educational systems, new mechanisms of regulation and social cohesion, optimisation of the effect of public expenditure and the new management of infrastructures based on the rationalization of budget choices… and pose the problem of the future of the Algerian economy so as to reconnect it with growth and, consequently, to alleviate unemployment.

As I have often recalled, in this month of February 2019 – and this is not today – Algeria is going through a crisis of governance, which implies having a strategic vision of the future of Algeria on the 2030 horizon.

Algeria needs for its national and international credibility, geostrategic tensions at the level of the region and the inevitable budgetary tensions between 2019-2020-2025 to bring all its children into their diversity and not to divide us, requiring a minimum of economic and social consensus that could not mean unanimism, a sign of decadence of any society in order to stabilise the social body.

The reforms – beyond the natural resistance of the pensioners – by rehabilitating good governance (the fight against corruption, in concrete terms and not only by legislation) and human capital, are the basis for development. The cries of youth in these months of February and March 2019 for a profound change must be heard so that Algeria can meet the challenges of the 21st century characterized, in this constantly interdependent world, by major geostrategic upheavals in the security, economic, political, social and cultural fields.

Faced with the inevitable budgetary tensions and the geostrategic stakes of 2019-2025-2030, the success of the reforms must be based on four axes: gathering, rebasing of the state, democratisation and economic reforms accommodating economic efficiency and profound social justice.

Summit of the western Mediterranean countries

Advertisements

Stability at the regional level and intensification of all partnership, for a lake of peace and shared prosperity.

After the mixed impacts of the Barcelona Agreement and the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) activities, a summit of the western Mediterranean countries as a significant meeting will be held on 24 June 2019 in France to boost cooperation between countries of the two shores of the western Mediterranean.   The refocusing on the western Mediterranean is accompanied by the realization that the residents of this basin share not only primary common interests, particularly in the economic field but also security in order to establish a “strengthened association”. The objective being “resolutely political” to avoid a north-south fracture that could carry all the drifts and extremities, that can lead to major imbalances. For example, for this meeting, the migratory flux depends largely on the under-development of the disadvantaged regions of the southern shore of the Mediterranean and instead of feeding the misunderstanding about the idea of a “union” of the two shores.  Would it make more sense to conclude a pact of cooperation and solidarity limited to the States on both sides of the Western Mediterranean, a pact based on shared values and principles; a pact motivated by an objective of solidarity and development, in the framework of a win-win partnership?

Civil society, a significant player

We must be aware that all new international relations are no longer based mainly on personalized relations between heads of state but between decentralized networks and organizations through the involvement of the civil society which can promote cooperation, a dialogue of cultures, tolerance and symbiosis of the contributions of the east and the west.  It is dangerous to be locked up in a ghetto that would inevitably endanger life through violence. The latest events should make us think even better by avoiding this confrontation of religions because so much Islam, Christianity or Judaism have contributed actively to the flourishing of civilizations, to this tolerance by condemning any form of extremism. Future relationships between the two shores of the western Mediterranean composed of 5 + 5 countries can be enabling vectors. For, overall, southern Europe and the Maghreb cannot escape this adaptation to global mutations (the current crisis leading to profound upheavals in both geostrategic and socio-economic areas) and more globally in the whole of the Mediterranean region. For there is a need to overcome narrow chauvinistic nationalisms insofar as true nationalism in the future will be defined as the capacity to increase together with the standard of living of all populations by our contribution to global added value. The world is currently characterized by interdependence between countries. This does not mean the end of the role of the state but a separation of politics and economics which cannot be subjected to the vagaries of the economic situation, the State dedicating itself to its fundamental mission of macroeconomic regulator and macrosocial.  We firmly believe and after analysis that the intensification of cooperation between the two shores of the Mediterranean and more specifically between Europe and the Maghreb ought to be based on true co-development, with the possibility to disrupt bureaucratic behaviours of all conservative rentier annuitants and register them in a dynamic perspective profitable to the populations of the region. It is that the Mediterranean area can be a place of creation of logical networks allowing to communicate with distant cultures by promoting the symbiosis of the contributions of the east and the west. This network must promote communication links; freedom insofar as the excesses of corporate voluntarism inhibit any spirit of creativity.

It is that the Maghreb and Europe are two geographical regions presenting a millennial experience of openness on Latinity and the Arab worlds with natural links and in its whole door of culture and influences Anglo-Saxon.  It is essential for Europe to develop all the actions that can be implemented to achieve desirable balances within this set. The creation of weak regional economic spaces is a stage of structural adjustment within the globalized economy with the objective of promoting political democracy, a humanized competitive market economy, debates different ideas through social and cultural actions to combat extremism and racism the implementation of ordinary affairs. Thus, it is necessary to pay attention to the educational action because the thinking man and creator must be in future the beneficiary and the leading actor of the development process. That is why we are advocating the creation of a Euro-Maghreb university as well as a cultural center of the Mediterranean youth as a means of reciprocal fertilization of cultures for the realization of the sustained dialogue in order to avoid prejudices and conflicts sources of unnecessary tensions as well as a central Euro bank to promote trade. Algeria and France can promote the creation of these empowering structures.

Cooperation between the Maghreb and European 5 + 5 countries

It is in this context that must be apprehended a realistic approach to co-partnership between the two shores of the western Mediterranean where civil society will play a significant role, considering the fast approaching Fourth World Revolution in the geostrategic, economic, social and cultural fields.  At the global level, we are witnessing the evolution of a past accumulation based on a purely material vision, characterized by rigid hierarchical organizations, a new method of accumulation based on knowledge control — technological news and networked organizations, with segmented global chains of production where investment, in comparative advantages, being realized within sub-segments of these channels. As Jean-Louis Guigou, president of the IPEMED (Institute of Economic Foresight of the Mediterranean world, in Paris), it must be made clear that, in the interest of both the French and the Algerians, and more generally the Maghreb and Europeans as well as all the south Mediterranean populations. More precisely, economically the win-win partnership at the country level two shores of the Mediterranean, presents strengths and potential for the promotion of diverse activities and this experience can be an example of this global partnership becoming the privileged axis of rebalancing of southern Europe through the amplification and tightening of links and exchanges in different forms.  Exchanges can be intensified in all fields: agriculture, industry, services, tourism, education without forgetting cooperation in the military field, where Algeria can be an active actor, as shown by its efforts towards the stabilization of the region. Moreover, let us not forget the number of residents of Maghreb origins, and whatever the number, the diaspora is an essential part of the rapprochement between our peoples because it contains essential intellectual, economic and Financial. Also, must mobilize at various stages of intervention the initiative of all the parties concerned, namely Governments, diplomatic missions, universities, entrepreneurs and civil society.

The intensification of cooperation between the two shores of the western Mediterranean will only be possible if the involved countries have a realistic approach to co-development far from the mercantile vision and the spirit of domination, having a shared vision of their becoming.  The symbiosis of the contributions of the East and the West, the dialogue of cultures and tolerance are sources of mutual enrichment. The latest events should even better make us think, avoiding this confrontation of religions because both Islam, Christianity and Judaism have contributed actively to the flourishing of civilisations, to this tolerance by condemning any form of extremism. Globalization is a blessing for humanity if we integrate social relations and not confine it solely to merchant relations by synchronizing the real sphere and the commercial sphere, economic dynamics and social dynamics. At the time of the geostrategic tensions at the level of the region, the consolidation of large ensembles, the challenges of globalization, the rapprochement between the two shores is necessary for an intensification of cooperation, to measure the weight of the history that binds us. However, let us be realistic for in practice, the implementation of sound business, like the image of a country, no longer rests as in the past on personalized relations between heads of States or ministers but instead must be the result of decentralized networks, favouring the involvement of innovative, dynamic individual and companies. Tactics must be integrated within the strategic function/objective of maximizing the social well-being of the entire Mediterranean region.

Concerning the summit of the western Mediterranean civil societies on June 24, 2019 in France, this important international meeting will bring together, the heads of States and Governments, the President of the World Bank, the presidents of the EIB, the EBRD, the Director-General of the OECD and non-State actors of civil society in all their economic, social and cultural diversity. Its political launch will have on the 15th meeting of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the 5 + 5 dialogue on 18 January 2019 in Valletta. Five groups have been set up: Morocco will lead the economy, and innovation component, Portugal, culture, Italy, sustainable development, Malta youth and mobility, and Algeria has had the most critical component, having been made responsible for the Energy Transition.  This could mean regional cooperation projects, conventional energies, non-conventional energies, renewable energy, energy efficiency, and in general proposing the new energy consumption model 2020/2030. His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Algeria, appointed professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul, expert International, to lead the Algerian delegation, at the International Meeting on June 24, 2019, in France.