Algeria is a new direction in its external trade policy with an option to invest in African markets. It is in this context that the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Algeria organized from 17 to 25 July 2016, the movement of a delegation of forty Algerian businessmen in Ivory Cost, Togo and Benin. The tour, entitled “West Africa Road Show”, aims, according to the Algerian president of the Chamber of Commerce who spoke to ANA to establish partnership contacts with the Ivorian, Togo and Benin business.
You are the head of a strong Algerian delegation, including businessmen, on tour in three countries in West Africa. What is the purpose of such an initiative?
Since July 17, there is a tour of exchange and sharing in the three countries of West Africa: Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin, to visualize commercial offers and business opportunity that these sub-Saharan Africa offers. West Africa Road Show is part of a promotion approach of South-South investment between Algeria and the Ivory Coast, Benin and Togo; three closely related markets. This visit to West Africa aims to give more visibility to Algerian operators, Ivory Coast, Togo and Benin, firstly, and secondly, to examine the potential of partnerships and joint ventures, and the creation of a logistics platform in order to also allow Algerian economic operators to have more visibility on the investment opportunities of their products in a growing market with over 350 million inhabitants. In addition to this tour, there are also B-to-B meetings, site visits, and meetings with key players in the business world. Our visit began in Ivory Coast, and continues to Togo and will be closed by the Benin step.
Why is Algeria turning to the countries of West Africa and not to its traditional partners like the European Union or China?
For us there are no small countries. Here in Togo and Ivory Cost, we have discovered that there are opportunities and partnerships to achieve. Today, our strategy and our vision is to make South-South partnerships. These South-South partnerships are more durable and less restrictive. It’s a win-win situation, because a company based in SSA can easily do business with its Algerian counterpart without any constraints. In other ways, we have many Algerian businessmen who wish to work with businessmen of other countries in West Africa, particularly those of Togo. Togo has several resources that may be of Algerian businessmen interest. And with one of the best ports in West Africa. There are many things to do here.
Can you go back to the partnership agreement signed with the Togolese authorities?
Our vision is clear: we are very optimistic because many things are possible between Algeria and Western African countries in general and Togo in particular. We came to build partnerships in order to share the benefits of Algeria with the Togolese and vice versa. in the near future, we will optimize the Algerian presence in Africa through the opening of representative offices, counters and various partnerships. This will allow us to increase the Algerian non-hydrocarbon exports to attract investment from major African companies to Algeria.
What are the areas covered by this tour?
We favor anything that will allow Algeria to partner with SSA brothers. However, the retained priority sector is the field of agribusiness and agro-industry, tourism, services, consumer electronics, mechanics, raw materials, the energy sector, including the electrification of Africa and renewable energy through specialized companies, the digital sector and telecommunication, etc. Africa is the geographical priority of Algeria with a win-win vision between the companies.
What is the current volume of trade between Algeria and the West African countries?
It is true that our trade with sub-Saharan Africa do not amount to much. Thus, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry has embarked on a conquest of African markets to expand our field of action. In the same direction, Algeria created the eco-portal in Ivory Coast, but also an “Algerian-Ivorian House.” And this partnership between the Ivory Coast and Algeria has, in May, on the occasion of the International Fair of Algiers, signed several export contracts worth $ 145 million between Algeria and two African countries: Ivory Coast and Chad. Indeed, the share of Algeria in the African market represents only 0.25%, according to the National Agency for promotion of non-oil exports (Algex) with a volume of trade between Algeria and the rest of the African countries not exceeding $ 184 million.
Today, customs barriers are a real obstacle to the development of inter-country trade in Africa. Is it not a major obstacle to conquer the African market by Algerian products?
Everything is possible and we intend to see how to remove the obstacles. And these trips are designed firstly to build partnerships, but also to make disappear the barrier that prevents the south-south trade. Our goal is to create a logistics platform in Africa, and we will.
By Emmanuel Atcha