Algeria to invest to spur no-oil growth


The Algerian cabinet has approved a five-year investment plan worth $286 billion as part of efforts to diversify its economy away from oil dependency, an official statement said.

The 2010-2014 plan is intended to completed economic projects already underway and launch new ones in the OPEC member north African country, said the statement issued after a cabinet meeting chaired by President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.

About $130 billion of the amount will go towards completing railway, road and water “big projects” while the remaining $156 billion will finance new development schemes, it said.

The new projects planned for the 2010-2014 period include mainly two million housing units, infrastructure for public works, transport, health, education and sports, and financial incentives for agriculture, the statement said.

Algeria launched a similar five-year plan for 2005-2009 to build infrastructures including a 1200-km long motorway, water desalination plants and thousands of state-subsidised housing units.

The country, which is emerging from more than a decade of Islamic-linked violence in which almost 200 000 people were killed, depends on energy for some 97 pct of its export earnings.
“Thanks to the support of our people, we really have managed to bring back peace and launch national reconciliation,” the statement quoted Bouteflika as telling the meeting.

Hundreds of rebels have surrendered to the authorities after Bouteflika offered amnesties and adopted a reconciliation policy since he came to office in 1999.
“What remains to do from now on is strengthening our national development and liberate the development from dependency on hydrocarbons,” he added.

The nation of 35 million people has used most of its oil and gas earnings to boost investment in a bid to create more jobs and cure social woes, and pay foreign debt, currently around $4 billion, down from about $30 billion in late 1990s.
“We have rid Algeria of foreign debt and mobilised a package of available resources to invest for economic and social development,” Bouteflika said.

He said Algeria would not borrow money in the next few years from international financial institutions to implement its plan.
“We exclude in advance any recourse to borrowing from abroad,” he added.

In an apparent reference to corruption cases that hit some sectors including state-owned energy group Sonatrach, and delays in implementing the previous plan, Bouteflika stressed the need for each sector to carry out its plans.
“Every sector will present at the end of each year results on its progress regarding the implementation of its programme and each year we will assess the financial situation of the country to take our financial means into account,” he said.