The development of 3G and the recent launching of 4G boost the Algerian web. Though Internet users are complaining about Internet slow speed and high prices, the number of users is growing, and local content is emerging despite a difficult environment.
With 16 million 3G subscribers and 2 million potential 4G users, web content developers have a lot to do. In recent years, the websites and applications « Made in DZ » have been increasing in Algeria, more or less successfully, moreover. Many of these platforms appear and then disappear according to trends, while others are on the way to stay. They meet a real need that adapts to the local culture.
The Algerian market
In some cases, these sites are even placed on a quasi-virgin market, like Freehali, a platform launched this month bringing together the Algerian freelancers or “Mawiid” which offers an « unprecedented concept of encounters between single people. » The website, launched in November 2015, has exceeded 700 references, said Mounira Benhalima, the founder.
« We wanted to adapt to the conditions and the Algerian tradition, » she adds. To avoid unsuccessful encounters, the site is directly involved in the process of selecting the candidates through a private interview with each of the selected candidates before the single people meet in one of the partner cafés or restaurants. « People surf a lot through their smartphones. We had a lot of phone registrations. Moreover, we wanted our site to be adapted to tablets and mobiles, » said the young woman who works with two other employees.
With respect to e-administration and the services offered to the citizens, they are still insufficient and little publicized. Therefore, private initiatives take over, such as Sahti Dz which has become the first site of health information in Algeria. This platform offers a directory to quickly find a practitioner and is among the initiatives rewarded in December 2016 at the 4th Algeria Web Awards. During the competition, 32 winners were selected from 1085 projects: 600 websites, 300 social media and 100 mobile applications.
Can we talk about digital economy?
« If we look at the figures, the number of websites – all categories combined – is very limited. Of the 600,000 companies, I would be surprised if over 5% had a website, » replies Younes Grar, an ICT consultant, which explains the delay of Algeria according to the reports provided by international organizations, especially the International Telecommunication Union, where it ranked 103rd in 2016. Though the country has won six places compared to 2015, many things remain to be done, says the expert.
« There is a lack of co-operation and efficient support from the administrations, which pushes the private sector to try their luck. But there is little monitoring and the project initiators have to fend for themselves. As a consequence, many of them are not implemented, » said Younes Grar regretfully.
Yet, there is a fund within the Ministry of the Post and ICT, created a decade ago and initially endowed with 5 billion dinars, adds the consultant. Unfortunately, it « has not been used for various reasons ». Beyond the lack of financing, the Algerian ecosystem is still marked by the non-generalization of electronic payment and legal texts which «are not yet adapted » said Younes Grar to conclude.