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Boosting the Privatisation Process in Algeria

Boosting the Privatisation Process in Algeria

Conditions for boosting the privatisation process via the Algiers Stock Exchange are reviewed by University professor and international expert, Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL.

The aims of the privatisation, whether partial or total of the Algerian economy do not come to be questioned. The process is a must, however, it needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency. Proposals of strategies are made, notably through my experience as Chairman of the National Council of Privatizations between 1996/1999 complemented by numerous tours in the USA, helping to formulate the conditions for the success of the privatisation process via the Algiers Stock Exchange, to imply clarity in the objectives and means of implementation.

Boosting the Privatisation Process in Algeria
The Algerian Stock market in Algeria. (Photo by Monique Jaques/Corbis via Getty Images)
The urgency of a strategic vision

At a time of the coronavirus pandemic and the world going through new socio-economic changes in technological and organisational models including shock waves that according to the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD, global growth will not be felt before the end of 2021. Furthermore, subject to the control of the epidemic, all domestic companies using the State’s handouts for their survival and all of the state-owned enterprises suffer from a structural deficit. Indebted to banks, some whose production techniques, are obsolete and do not meet new technologies and international standards, it is mentioned in this particular context to address the large budget deficit. The observation is the lack of dynamism of the public sector, the consolidation supported by the public treasury having far exceeded 100 billion dollars at constant prices between 2000/2020. The cost of the numerous restructurings between 1980/1999 and the ensuing remediation period of 2000/2020, resulted in more than 95% of the domestic companies returned to their inception status. Whereas with this, capital-money, it would have been more sensible to create a whole new and performing economic fabric. These are only announcements because, being an eminently political process, any decision on such a sensitive and complicated subject must first have the approval of the Council of Ministers certainly after consultation with the Security Council because it commits national security. Privatisation should not be confused with complementary de-monopolisation, both eminently political, moving towards the disengagement of the State from the economic sphere so that it devotes itself to its role as a strategic regulator in a market economy. Privatisation is a transfer of ownership from existing units to the private sector, and de-monopolisation is about fostering new private investment. The objective of de-monopolisation and privatisation must reinforce the systemic transformation of the transition from an administered economy to a competitive market economy. A legal text is not enough (this is only a means) and becomes a decoy if there are no coherent objectives clearly defined with pragmatism and a return to trust

Privatisation can only be successful if it is part of a coherent and visible global socio-economic policy and if it is accompanied by a competitive universal and sustained dialogue between the social partners. It should be aimed at putting an end to perpetual legal instability. The renovation of the Ministry of Finance through digitisation of all systems of taxation, banks, land and customs duties would surely put an end to the central and local bureaucracy that as a significant constraint of an administered economy would be best be accompanied by the overhaul of the socio-political system. Also, the decentralisation around large four to five regional poles, not deconcentration would help.

Moreover, the impacts of all trade agreements between Algeria and the European Union, Africa and the Arab world, as well as all international ones would be of a win-win type only if Algeria has public or private companies that are competitive in terms of cost/quality. In any case, all of these agreements have domestically economic, social and political implications.

The four conditions for boosting the privatisation process

Are our managers aware that there is a global privatisation market where competition is perennial, and the determining factor is a demand for goodwill and not just supply? The success of this process to prevent certain predators from being interested only in the real estate of these companies and not in the production tool involving five conditions? 

The first condition, its impact on the reduction of the budget deficit where according to the Finance Law of 2021 more than $21.75 billion in 2021, against the 2020 close of $18.60 billion and an overall projected treasury deficit of $28.26 billion, artificially, which is in principle filled by higher production and domestic productivity; to boost non-hydrocarbon exports and contribute to the establishment of a competitive market economy far from any monopoly, whether public or private. 

The State, as a regulator and guarantor of social cohesion, especially at a time of budgetary and tensions domestic and at our borders should enforce the contract between employers and employees so that the logic of profit does not undermine the dignity of workers. Nevertheless, never forget that the most incredible moral devaluation in any society is being unemployed or assisted. The important thing is not to work in the national, international or state-private sector, the critical thing for our children is to find a sustainable job within the framework of social protection.  

The second condition was a good preparation of a company X for privatisation, assuming transparent communication, as some executives and workers had heard the news in the press, which increased social tensions. Transparency is a fundamental condition for the acceptance of both the population and workers in the spirit of reforms linked to profound democratisation of society. The takeover of companies for executives and workers requires the creation of a risk bank to accompany them because they possess the technological, organisational and commercial know-how a hardcore of skills must constitute the basis of any reliable unit.  

The third condition will be to avoid filialisations that were not operating in the past—sticking with bureaucratic power, being the basis for the success of both the partial opening of capital and total privatisation, the wealth in the accounts being often undefining. Lack of an updated land registry poses the problem of the non-existence of reliable title deeds without which no transfer of ownership can be carried out. As there is an urgent need to have transparent real-time accountings of public, private companies, that meet international standards, all measures will be ineffective especially for stock market valuation the actual sale price varies from time to time.  

The fourth condition, time overlap of different institutions between selection, evaluations, tender notices, transfer to the stakeholders, then to the Government for the issuance of the final title of ownership would best be not arduous. It may discourage any takeover because mobile capital is invested only where economic and political obstacles are minimal. In this context, it is imperative that long bureaucratic circuits avoid a clearly defined synchronisation and that the current conflicting legal texts should be reviewed, which can lead to endless conflicts, hence the urgent need for their harmonisation with international law. Empowerment will need to be specified where it is necessary to determine who has it to request the undertaking of a privatisation operation. It is vital to prepare the transaction, to organise the selection of the purchaser, to authorise the conclusion of the transaction, to sign the relevant agreements and finally, to ensure that they are carried out correctly.

The four conditions for boosting the Algiers Stock Exchange 

In lethargy since its inception, the ASE was built up like a stadium without players through administrative injunctions, like all the loss-making state-owned enterprises.  

However, the revitalisation of the stock market implies three conditions

First,  the lifting of environmental constraints gives bureaucratic obstacles that cannot be a reliable purse without competition, avoiding legal instability referring to the rule of law.

Second, a stock exchange must be based on a renovated banking system. However, the Algerian financial system for decades has been the place par excellence for the distribution of the hydrocarbon rent and therefore a considerable challenge of power, and therefore the revitalisation of the stock market necessarily requires the overhaul of the financial system. Indeed, despite the number of private operators, we have a public economy with managed management, all activities whatever their nature feeding on budget flows, i.e. the very essence of financing is linked to the actual or supposed capacity of treasure. It can be considered that the banks in Algeria operate not from local market savings but by the recurrent advances from the Central Bank of Algeria that is refinanced by the public treasury in the form of reorganisation not only for the recent period but having to count the costs of restructuring between 1980/1990. This transformation is not in the scope of the company. However, it moves into the institutional field (distribution of the annuity hydrocarbons), and in this relationship, the Algerian financial system is passive. Bread 90% of these companies its returned to the starting box showing that it is not a question of capital money, real wealth can only assume the transformation of currency stock into capital stock, and there is the whole development problem. 

Thirdly, there can be no stock exchange without the resolution of all deeds circulating shares or bonds. The urgency of the integration of the informal sphere cannot be underestimated. Issuing title deeds is vital as there can be no reliable stock exchange without clear and transparent accounting modelled on international standards by generalising audits and analytical accounting in order to determine the cost centres for shareholders. This raises the problem of adapting a socio-educational system, which does not exist as financial engineering. The balance-of-payments services item with foreign exchange outflows between 2010/2019 is between $9/11 billion per year, in addition to foreign exchange outflows from import goods. There are a few rare exceptions; it turns out that accounts Algerian public and private companies from the most important to the simplest in the State that would not pass the most basic audits due diligence. For example, SONATRACH needs new strategic management like the majority of Algerian companies, with clear accounts in order to determine costs by sections, where we are witnessing the opacity of its management which is limited to delivering consolidated global accounts covering the essentials without distinguishing whether the surplus accumulated is due to exogenous factors, international prices or good internal management. As a primer, we propose partial privatisation of a few profitable national champions to initiate the movement to enable the establishment of a stock market index consisting of volume and quality, acting as incubators of companies eligible for the stock exchange and attracting investors looking for financing and know-how. 

The fourth condition is monetary stability and legal and monetary stability and the resolution of bad debts and debts, with state-owned banks crumbling under the weight of bad debts and the majority of state-owned enterprises in structural deficits, especially for the currency-denominated part involving transparent mechanisms in the event of exchange rate fluctuations. The simultaneous depreciation of the dinar against the Dollar, the main currency of exchange, does not respond to real values because their quotations are inversely proportional, has the essential aim of artificially filling the budget deficit, akin to an indirect tax. Indeed, on October 15, 2020, on the Stock Exchange, the Dollar is quoted at 1.2144 Euro, against 1.16 in June 2020, a depreciation of 5%, allowing a rise in the price of Brent by 5%. In reference to the June 2020 quote, the price of Brent quoted on December 15 at $50 would be $47.5 at constant prices, thus not having experienced a real increase in terms of purchasing power parity against the Euro and thus an increase in the import bill in euros in the same proportions. Thus, the current Government projecting for 2023 about 185 Dinar one Euro and 156 Dinars per Dollar and taking a 50% deviation from the parallel market we will have about 300 Dinars a minimum Euro in 2023 subject to the control of inflation otherwise the gap would be larger. They were compared to more than 200 Dinars in mid-December 2020 with a projection of 240/250 Euros at the end of 2021 in as to open borders and the inevitable increase in interest rates of the banks’ priorities to avoid their bankruptcies. In this case, it is illusory both to attract the savings of emigration via the banks that one wants to install with foreign exchange costs, as to capture the money capital via the informal sphere via Islamic finance. How do you want a trader with this monetary instability to appear on the stock exchange knowing that the value of the dinar will fall by at least 30% if not more in two to three years, depreciating its assets?.

In summary

The partial or total privatisation can be the process, with economic, social and political recompositions of power for a controlled liberalisation in order to avoid the squandering of public assets for the benefit of speculators interested mainly in real estate assets. It involves the transparency of specific objectives, the removal of bureaucratic obstacles, land, banks, the informal sphere, taxation, legal and monetary stability, essential criteria for any national investor.   

ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Energy from North Africa: H2 or HVDC?

Energy from North Africa: H2 or HVDC?

It has, in the recent past, been question of supplying Electricity from North Africa with notably the quickly miscarried project of Desertec. Could there be a revived or rebirth of the same or potentially the inception of the same? Would this explain the long and quiet convalescence of the Algerian president in Germany? In the meantime, kinimod in his WP page, wonders whether Energy from North Africa: h2 or hvdc?

(Image: BarneyElo, Pixabay)

The German energy demand is currently only covered to 17 % from renewable sources, albeit with an increasing tendency of half a percent per year (statista.de).

So 83 % are still missing for a complete decarbonization. The majority of this, namely 71 % of the total requirement, is currently covered by imports (weltenergierat.de). To do this, writes pv-magazine.de, we have to increase our photovoltaic area tenfold and our wind energy generation four times – a goal that many consider unattainable due to the acceptance problems of Germans.

One way out might be to import electricity and hydrogen on a large scale in the future instead of oil and gas. Then the gigantic solar fields would not cover German meadows, but Spanish, North African or Saudi Arabian desert areas, a win-win solution. Another advantage are supposedly the costs: since the capacity factor in Germany is only around 0.1, i.e. a 1 kW system only produces as much electricity in 10 hours as it would produce with one hour of full power, this factor in North Africa is 0.2 or higher (globalsolaratlas.com). For the same annual amount of energy, only half as much solar panel space is required, which is why solar power produced there costs only about half – or less. The countries there would have a slight additional income (which of course would increase the energy price again a little) and we would be rid of some of our energy worries.

There are roughly two paths for this solution:

  • Electrolytically produced hydrogen, that is either liquefied directly or converted to ammonia with atmospheric nitrogen and then liquefied – which requires slightly less complex transport ships. It can also be transported by pipeline.
  • Direct transmission of the solar power, perhaps buffered with storage for the hours after sunset, via HVDC lines.

What about the costs?

Renewable electricity is considerably cheaper in the MENA region (Middle East, North Africa) and southern Europe than here. In Portugal, solar power projects for 1.12 euro cents / kWh were agreed this year. In 2030, solar electricity costs are likely to be well below 1 c / kWh. In Germany, the electricity production costs for solar power are already below 4 c / kWh (solarify.de). In its position paper, the Federal Association of the New Energy Industry expects solar power production costs in Germany to be around 2.5 c / kWh, with storage adding another 1 ± 0.5 c.

Electricity can be transmitted with high voltage direct current (HVDC) lines over thousands of kilometers with little loss. In China there are some very long connections that bring wind power from the west to the industrial zones in the east. Starting in 2027, Singapore will receive a fifth of its electricity from a gigantic Australian solar field via the Suncable project – via a 3700 km long HVDC submarine cable. This electricity is supposed to cost 3.4 UScent / kWh. A storage facility in Australia will then still provide electricity in the evening hours (Forbes).

Generally, a 3000 km line adds 1.5 – 2.5 c / kWh to the electricity price (EIA study).

This means that the transport costs for MENA electricity are higher than the corresponding doubling of the German solar area (in 2030).

The cost of hydrogen consists of the cost of electricity, the cost of the electrolysis, which is mainly determined by the high investment for the electrolysers, and the transport costs.

For 2030 we can estimate electricity costs of 1 c / kWh for the south and 2.5 c / kWh for Germany. Storage costs of 1 c / kWh that may be reasonable are incurred everywhere.

The electrolyser costs in 2030 are given by Prognos as 2 – 8 c / kWh, in the EWI study with 1.5 – 2.4 c / kWh. They should be the same for all manufacturing regions.

According to the EWI study, the transport method is crucial for transport costs. If an existing pipeline can be rededicated and used for hydrogen, as is the case for southern Spain, they are low at around 0.4 c / kWh. However, if a ship has to be used, they rise to around 3 c / kWh because of the liquefaction required for this – or the conversion into ammonia and the subsequent liquefaction and the use of specialized ships.


With a little optimism we will end up with a hydrogen price of around 5 c/kWh for local production, around 4 c/kWh for southern Spain (pipeline transport) and around 6 c/kW for MENA production.

Electricity via HVDC would cost around 3.5 c/kWh, similar to the Sunline project, which roughly corresponds to the price for locally generated electricity.

Facit: Electricity from the south is not cheaper for us than local electricity because the electricity transport eats up the cost advantage. For H2 we can save a small cost advantage with pipeline transport if the pipeline already exists and only needs to be rededicated. In the case of ship transport, however, the hydrogen becomes considerably more expensive.

Since we will need a lot of electricity and also hydrogen for the decarbonisation of the economy, it may be necessary to obtain electricity, hydrogen or both from the south due to competition for land. Here, southern Spain is the cheapest export region, as both electricity and hydrogen transport infrastructure already exist. Electricity from North Africa would best be transported to Europe via HVDC and only converted into hydrogen there, because the transport costs for hydrogen by ship would be higher.

Citizens from around the World to form a Climate Forum

Citizens from around the World to form a Climate Forum

In an INews article, Citizens from around the world to form a climate forum to look at the best ways to cut global carbon emissions by Madeleine Cuffelaborates on an idea that in this conjecture increasingly appreciated by an ever-increasing number of people all around the world. Thanks to the Mass Media that is certainly very helpful for kickstarting this mutation and perhaps help unfold all potentialities of a Global Citizens Assembly.

A factory worker from India could work shoulder to shoulder with a bus driver from France to plan how to tackle the climate crisis, organisers say

Citizens from around the World to form a Climate Forum
Members of the citizens' assembly on climate change during their first weekend of discussions in Birmingham
Members of the UK citizens’ assembly on climate change (Photo: Fabio De Paola/PA Wire)

Citizens from around the world will be recruited at random to form a global ‘Climate Assembly’, charged with presenting world leaders with a plan for tackling climate change next year.

It could mean a bus driver from Britain, a sheep farmer from New Zealand and a factory worker from India all working together on the best way to cut global emissions.  

One thousand people will be selected at random to reflect the gender, race, age and economic make-up of the global population, organisers said. 

They will meet online next year to learn about climate change from international experts, before drawing up advice for world leaders ahead of a major UN climate summit in Glasgow in November 2021.  

Smaller assemblies at a local and national level will also be held in the run-up to the summit, known as COP26, with organisers aiming for millions of people to participate in the process. 

“We will bring many new, probably previously unheard voices into the Global Assembly,” said Claire Mellier, part of the organising team. “Not all of them are going to agree on the situation we are in, or what we should do next. We will however support careful listening between people so that true respect and understanding emerges. And when this happens we know that new possibilities come to light, that transform what we can do together.” 

Gauging public opinion

Citizen’s assemblies are emerging as a popular method of gauging public opinion on tricky topics such as abortion rights and electoral reform. But it is on the topic of climate change where many think they can be most useful, giving politicians a flavour of how radical the public’s appetite for climate action really is.  

The UK and France have already held national climate assemblies considering this very issue. UK Assembly Members called for a tax frequent flyers, a ban new gas boilers, and carbon labelling on food and drink products to speed carbon cuts.  

A world first

The Global Citizens’ Assembly, which is backed by the UN, will be the first time an in international assembly has been formed. Organisers are hoping its conclusions could spark a breakthrough in international climate talks, which have spent four years bogged down in finalising the ‘rules’ for the Paris climate treaty.  

“For too long the international debate on climate has been dominated by powerful minorities,” said Rich Wilson, founder of public participation group Involve. “It’s time for that to end. The Global Citizens’ Assembly is the biggest experiment in global democracy ever attempted. An ambitious endeavor, equivalent to the crisis we face.” 

But Mr Wilson says the project needs to raise £100,000 for the project to go ahead, to pay for “logistical and technical challenges”, such as translators for participants, equipment, and even childcare for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to take part. 

Citizens from around the World to form a Climate Forum
Madeleine Cuff

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

This Universal Declaration holds the Guinness World Record as the most translated document. Yet, far too many people are still unaware of their basic rights as human beings. Today it is celebrated across the world as every year with however a special note. That is to recover better and hopefully more tolerant.

Know Your Rights!

Drafted by representatives of diverse legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world, the Declaration sets out universal values and a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations. It establishes the equal dignity and worth of every person. Thanks to the Declaration, and States’ commitments to its principles, the dignity of millions has been uplifted and the foundation for a more just world has been laid. While its promise is yet to be fully realized, the very fact that it has stood the test of time is testament to the enduring universality of its perennial values of equality, justice and human dignity.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights empowers us all. The principles enshrined in the Declaration are as relevant today as they were in 1948. We need to stand up for our own rights and those of others. We can take action in our own daily lives, to uphold the rights that protect us all and thereby promote the kinship of all human beings.

Human Rights are Everyone’s Rights!

Know your rights and help spread the word:

UDHR – illustrated

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The illustrated edition of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was created and designed in a partnership between the artist Yacine Ait Kaci (YAK) creator of Elyx, the UN Regional information Centre (UNRIC), and the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights – Regional Office for Europe (OHCHR).

#StandUp4HumanRights

Human Rights Day 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Hear the voices of United Nations personnel as they recite some of the articles from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul

Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul

This is a story of a city that as per Iraqi novelist Inaam Kachachi’s description – Mosul the austere, Mosul the convivial, Mosul the contradictory, Mosul the wounded, bleeding to death. So here is Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul, with little aid from government per Samya Kullab.

Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul
Mounds of rubble, remnants of the battle to retake the city three years ago from the Islamic State group, remain in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Local officials say Baghdad’s cash-strapped government, struggling with a dire economic crisis fueled by low oil prices and the coronavirus, doesn’t have the funds to launch serious reconstruction efforts. (AP photo/Samya Kullab)
Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul
A damaged house remains un-repaired three years after Iraqi forces defeated the Islamic State group, in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 29, 2020. Mosul remains for many the symbol of the Islamic State group’s reign of terror, the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. It’s also where IS made its last stand before the city was freed three years later, after a costly battle that killed thousands and left Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in ruins. (AP Photo/Samya Kullab)
A commercial center re-opened recently with some government assistance to restore. electricity and water services, enabling merchants to return, three years after Iraqi forces defeated Islamic State militants, in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 29, 2020. Mosul remains for many the symbol of the Islamic State group’s reign of terror, the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. (AP Photo/Samya Kullab)
Musicians play love songs as a small crowd sings along and claps, inside what was an old hostel for traders centuries ago and is now a refurbished commercial center, in Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Mosul remains for many the symbol of the Islamic State group’s reign of terror, the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. Under the IS scenes like these were forbidden. (AP Photo/Samya Kullab)
Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul
Anan Yasoun, one of the few residents to return to the heavily damaged Old City, stands outside her rebuilt home, in Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. From afar, Yasoun’s yellow-slab home is an island surrounded by rubble in the historic old part of the Iraqi city of Mosul, for many still a symbol of the Islamic State group’s reign of terror and the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. It’s also where IS made its last stand before the city was freed three years later, after a costly battle that killed thousands and left Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in ruins. (AP photo/Samya Kullab)
Iraqis slowly rebuild Mosul
Damaged buildings are surrounded by mounds of rubble three years after Iraqi forces defeated the Islamic State group there, Nov. 29, 2020. Mosul remains for many the symbol of the Islamic State group’s reign of terror, the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. It’s also where IS made its last stand before the city was freed three years later, after a costly battle that killed thousands and left Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in ruins. (AP Photo/Samya Kullab)
Mounds of rubble still line the streets and buildings are pock-marked with bullet holes three years after Iraqi forces defeated the Islamic State group, in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq Nov. 29, 2020. Mosul remains for many the symbol of the IS group’s reign of terror, the place from where it proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. It’s also where IS made its last stand before the city was freed three years later, after a costly battle that killed thousands and left Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, in ruins. (AP Photo/Samya Kullab)
Ammar Mouwfaq, 70, stands inside his soap shop in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. Mouwfaq inherited the business in 1955 and for decades his family have imported olive soap from Aleppo, Syria, a trade that has dated back hundreds of years. That came to a stop when the Islamic State took control of the area in 2014. (AP photo/Samya Kullab)

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — Anan Yasoun rebuilt her home with yellow cement slabs amid the rubble of Mosul, a brightly colored manifestation of resilience in a city that for many remains synonymous with the Islamic State group’s reign of terror.

In the three years since Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, liberated Mosul from the militants, Yasoun painstakingly saved money that her husband earned from carting vegetables in the city. They had just enough to restore the walls of their destroyed home; money for the floors was a gift from her dying father, the roof a loan that is still outstanding.

Yasoun didn’t even mind the bright yellow exterior — paint donated by a relative. “I just wanted a house,” said the 40-year-old mother of two.

The mounds of debris around her bear witness to the violence Iraq’s second-largest city has endured. From Mosul, IS had proclaimed its caliphate in 2014. Three years later, Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition liberated the city in a grueling battle that killed thousands and left Mosul in ruins.

Such resilience is apparent elsewhere in the city, at a time when Baghdad’s cash-strapped government fails to fund reconstruction efforts and IS is becoming more active across the disputed territories of northern Iraq.

Life is slowly coming back to Mosul these days: merchants are busy in their shops, local musicians again serenade small, enthralled crowds. At night, the city lights gleam as restaurant patrons spill out onto the streets.

The U.N. has estimated that over 8,000 Mosul homes were destroyed in intense airstrikes to root out IS. The nine-month operation left at least 9,000 dead, according to an AP investigation.

Memories of the group’s brutality still haunt locals, who remember a time when the city squares were used for the public beheading of those who dared violate the militants’ rules.

The Old City on the west bank of the Tigris River, once the jewel of Mosul, remains in ruins even as newer parts of the city have seen a cautious recovery. The revival, the residents say, is mostly their own doing.

“I didn’t see a single dollar from the government,” said Ahmed Sarhan, who runs a family coffee business.

Antique coffee pots, called dallahs, line the entrance to his shop, which has been trading coffee for 120 years. An aging mortar and pestle, used by Sarhan’s forefathers to grind beans, sits in his office as evidence of his family’s storied past.

“After the liberation, it was complete chaos. No one had any money. The economy was zero,” he said. His business raked in a measly 50,000 Iraqi dinars a day, or around $40. Now, he makes closer to about $2,500.

But even as Sarhan and other merchants are starting to see profits — despite the impact of the coronavirus pandemic — ordinary laborers are struggling. Sarhan employs 28 workers, each getting about $8 a day.

“It is nothing … they will never be able to rebuild their homes,” he says.

Since the ouster of IS in 2017, the task of rebuilding Mosul has been painfully slow. Delays have been caused by lack of coherent governance at the provincial level; the governor of Nineveh province, which includes Mosul, has been replaced three times since liberation.

With no central authority to coordinate, a tangled web of entities overseeing reconstruction work — from the local, provincial and federal government to international organizations and aid groups — has added to the chaos.

The government has made progress on larger infrastructure projects and restored basic services to the city, but much remains unfinished.

Funds earmarked for reconstruction by the World Bank were diverted to help the federal government fight the coronavirus as state coffers dwindled with plunging oil prices. Meanwhile, at least 16,000 Mosul residents appealed for government cash assistance to rebuild their homes.

Only 2,000 received financial assistance, said Zuhair al-Araji, the mayor of Mosul district.

“There’s no money,” he said. “They have to rebuild on their own.”

Mosul residents eye government policies with suspicion and suspect local officials are too corrupt to help them.

“Whatever funds are provided, they will steal it,” said Ammar Mouwfaq, who spent all his savings to re-open his soap shop in the city last year.

A photo of his father hangs inside the shop, which he took over in the 1970s. Neat stacks of the region’s famous olive oil soap, imported from the Syrian city of Aleppo, tower above him.

“What you see now, I did alone,” he added.

On one thoroughfare the ruins of cinemas bombed by IS — the militant group’s strict interpretation of Islam banned such forms of entertainment — are a stark contrast to the shops and restaurants abuzz with customers.

The Old City, with its labyrinth of narrow streets dating back to the Middle Ages, now serves as an eerie museum of IS horrors. Misshapen iron rods jut out of what’s left of houses they were designed to fortify. Smashed pieces of alabaster stone and masonry, once extolled by historians for architectural significance, lie among the debris. Signs of a former life — a pair of women’s shoes, a notebook covered in hearts, shells from exploded ammunition — are untouched.

“Demolition is forbidden” reads a graffiti written on a slab of wall surrounded by rubble, a testament to Mosul’s unwavering dark humor.

The Mosul Museum, where IS militants filmed themselves smashing priceless antiquities to dust, partially re-opened in January. But apart from occasional contemporary art exhibits such as that of Iraqi sculptor Omer Qais last month, there is nothing to see.

On the other side of town, Sarhan, the coffee trader, invites anyone who cares to see his collection of antique swords, plates and bowls he painstakingly hunted down. In the 12th century, Mosul was an important hub for trade; a century later, its intricate metalwork rose to prominence.

“This is our history,” said Sarhan, holding up a rusting bronze plate, engraved with 1202, the year it was made.

“If I don’t protect it, who will?”