In Algeria like elsewhere, the Global Information and Communication Technologies Revolution (ICTs) are a set of technologies used to process, edit and share information as well as transport, store it.  This would definitely have implications on the political governance, business management and administrations.  It also has an impact on our new lifestyle referring to the knowledge and innovation sectors.  We, as politicians, entrepreneurs and / or citizens of today all live in a plural and immediate communication society that compels us to make decisions in real time.  Control of time would be the main challenge of the 21st century and any inadequacies in these mutations might isolate still more this country.

The new information system; a global revolution ?

The birth of new ICTs is notably due to the convergence of computing, telecommunications and audio-visual technologies.  The development of broadband Internet, the democratization of the computer and new technologies stem basically from a decrease of the rates proposed by suppliers and by an ever increasing demand.  The boom of the blogs and email gives all ICTs an increasingly wider presence in our society.  This interaction of electronics and Informatics explains ICT applications to be able to meet the needs of both business and Government; households and individuals alike.

Now subject to the same laws of the market like any other activity in market production, the ICTs are, in addition, a sector where competition is played directly on a global scale.  The globalization of businesses, markets and finance channels has not only involved a reshaping of the economic structures and exchange flow, it has also led to the professionalization of the communication and information sectors, as well as to a more integration of the phases of design, creation and consumption of the products along with the merger of formerly separate or even opposed activities.

More than just an opening to the general public , the ICT are revolutionizing the internal organisation of the enterprise, in its management so-called ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) software to manage different tasks such as inventory or cash, collaborative work is simplified through the use of the Intranet and messaging, the ‘wireless’ system or ‘Paperless office’ maintains a permalink with employees on the go just like the video conference; all this generates a better sharing as well as better internal information flow.  Thus, the world has become a large glass house, granted against totalitarian regimes insofar as the information is no longer the fourth power but the power by itself.

Today, the infrastructure of the Internet is spreading around the world to create a broad global network and thanks to computers that can now digitise all information and manage new systems.  The integration of telecommunications, computing and audio-visual technologies gave rise to the Digital Society which is the subject of special attention on behalf of all States and international organizations.  For more than a decade, this interest increased because of all socio-economic and cultural benefits of the ITCs :  indeed, the ‘Digital divide’ transcends the geographical enclosures and goes through all human societies.  The new means of communication facilitate the exchange and dissemination of knowledge.

So, these new ITCs are deeply changing the daily lives of citizens, the functioning of enterprises, and of the State.  That means new mental and social representations.  This is most obvious in the mass-media (TV, DVD, GPS, Music, etc…) on cell phones.  On a macro level, new processes implemented through ICT have consequences on the analysis of the value of goods and services, throughout their life cycle that tend to be shortened whilst affecting productivity gains and growth related to the introduction of ICTs.  These also influence all scientific and technical R&D and indirectly allow new discoveries that have in turn a macroeconomic effect.

Finally, ICTs do impact in many other areas such as recreation, culture, health, time management, and all behaviour in society.  The advent of the Internet and its tremendous development in a few years has practically put on notice the enterprise – of any importance whatsoever – to both adapt and make the most sensible and productive use. Competitiveness, forcing it to get or give information in real time, the enterprise will indeed invest the web and use electronics to face competition and develop its activities further.  In a few years of ICTs presence, these have helped organizational models of work to gain characteristics that are decentralization and flexibility.

The phenomenon of relocation of employment is largely due to the research of gains in productivity as well as certain possibilities that offered by ICT to companies, particularly those that are large :  interactive TV, teleprocessing and maintenance are now a reality of every day.

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Algeria and the challenges of globalization of the information society

In recent years, the ICT industries contributed a great deal to the growth of the economy and remain an important sector in trade at the global level as well as for the development of intra companies’ trade.  In Algeria, the 4G was recently installed with some delay despite the 3G largely outdated and the existing skills.  Every day, new technological advances increasingly make obsolete any previous progress.  Hence the issues – in terms of opportunities but also risks of marginalization of this country – posed by ICT or lack of it for growth and social development.

This delay is partly due to a problem of mentalities and negative attitudes that hinder innovative and very interesting projects that are proposed by experts.  The Internet connection being too slow, Algeria has failed to catch up this year in ICT world; on the contrary, it lost ground in its ranking by the World Economic Forum on the development of these technologies.  Algeria however got three small notches up as per the WEF report 2016, from the 120th to 117th out of 139 countries.  It is not even among the top ten African countries due to the prevailing environment and its current use of ICT below world standards.

Between 2010/2015, Algeria went from the 114th place in the global ranking of 167 countries in the development of ICT index according to the report of January 2016 of the ITU.  And according to the more detailed Global Information Technology Report 2013 on 144 countries, the NRI index calculating the ability of a country to exploit fully the ICT in terms respectively of ICT, the cost of access and availability of skills needed for optimal use, the use of ICT by Governments and the business community, the economic context and the climate for innovation infrastructure in the policy and regulatory framework, and the economic and social impact of ICTs, Algeria displays a low leverage of ICTs, with a worldwide economic impact (143rd place in the world for this criterion).

The poor (119th) ICT infrastructure, combined with a low skills base (101st), translate into a very low usage of ICT (140th) levels, finishing respectively in 100th place on the basis of the criterion of the individual use of ICT, ranked 144th in business, and 139th in institutional and Government with serious deficiencies in the regulatory framework (141st) shortcomings in Environmental Affairs and innovation (143rd).  An Algerian study shows that only 15% of the country’s SMEs on the identified 321,000 use ICT in their activities according to the National Agency for Development of SMEs (ANDPME).

In summary, Algeria is in need of a strategy so as to adapt itself to the new world that with the advent of the fourth economic revolution will be based on digital technology, and environmental industries with an energy Mix between 2020 and 2030.  It is a matter of national security provided that it quickly adopts a strategy of passage from a rentier economy, through deep structural reforms, currently suffering from a crisis of governance and not of a financial crisis to that of realistically balanced economy.

Without deep structural reforms, whilst assuming a minimal political and social consensus, a visibility and coherence in the approach of the reforms, miracles are not to be expected.  The more these are deferred, the more the reserves of foreign exchange will be depleted and this crisis of governance might risk to go into financial, economic and political crises with the risk of regional destabilisation.

Written by Dr. Abderrahmane Mebtoul, University Professor, International Expert,  ademmebtoul@gmail.com

Translation from French by Microsoft / FaroL  faro@farolco.onmicrosoft.com

 

NB – Dr Abderrahmane MEBTOUL, son of a National Liberation activist, former emigrant whose primary and secondary studies, a fraction of universities studies were in Lille, France has a PhD in Economics (1974), Accounting Expert from the Institute of Management of Lille (1973).  Dr A. Mebtoul is a member of several international organizations, and author of more than 20 books and more than 500 national and international conferences

  • A. Mebtoul has been an administration officer at the Road of African Unity – (1972/1973)
  • Director of Studies in the Department of Energy/SONATRACH 1974/1979-1990 / 1995 – 2000 / 2006
  • A former magistrate – first Adviser – Director of economic studies at the Court des Comptes (1980/1983)
  • President of the Privatisation Program Council, with the rank of Minister delegate – (1996/1999)
  • Director in the Office of Sacurity – DGSN – (1997/1998)
  • Expert economic and social Council 1995 2007
  • Expert at the office of the President 2007/2008 – with independent Expert the Prime Minister (from January 2013 to date) who headed several important s records on behalf of successive Algerian Governments from 1974 to 2016
  • Independent Expert since November 10, 2016, for economic issues directly to the Secretary General of the ruling FLN party and the Presidency of the Republic.

 

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