Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

Economists have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives. (Reuters)
Updated 12 September 2018
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Algeria blighted by youth unemployment despite recovering oil prices

  • More than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas
  • Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth

ALGIERS: Two years after graduating from university, Ali Lamir, 26, has been spending his days sitting in a cafe in central Algiers thinking about how to land a job.
He is not alone — more than one in four Algerians under the age of 30 are unemployed in a country that remains heavily reliant on exports of oil and gas, despite numerous official promises of economic diversification.
Economists see little prospect of improvement despite a recovery in global oil prices. They have predicted that the government of veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, 81, is likely to spend any increased revenues on imports, not on job-creation initiatives.
“My university degree is of no use. I have been looking for a job for two years but to no avail,” said Lamir, a graduate of the Algiers Institute of Law and Administrative Sciences.
Unlike neighboring Tunisia or Morocco, Algeria has made little headway in attracting foreign tourists, and foreign investors outside the energy sector give it a wide berth, deterred by security concerns and bureaucracy.
A scheme of interest-free loans, introduced two decades ago to encourage young Algerians to start their own businesses, has not fulfilled early hopes that it could boost the non-energy sector, which today accounts for only 6 percent of exports.
“I have applied for jobs at many firms, but get nothing other than promises. I am willing to accept any position even with a low salary,” said 24-year-old Aziza Bari, a graduate in economics from Algiers University.
Overall unemployment stood at 11.1 percent in the first quarter of 2018, official data shows, but was 26.4 percent among the under-30s, who make up more than two thirds of Algeria’s 41 million people.
Such figures do not make for happy reading for Bouteflika, who has been in power since 1999 and is considering seeking a fifth term next year, despite poor health.
The recovery in global oil prices led to a 15 percent increase in Algeria’s oil and gas revenues in the first seven months of 2018 to $22 billion. Energy exports account for 95 percent of its foreign earnings.
Algeria has also gradually opened up industries such as food, home appliances and mobile phones to private investors, helping the non-energy sector to grow by 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to the most recent available data.
But business leaders have demanded bolder steps. “Our country is in need of accelerating the transition movement to an economy of knowledge and innovation,” Aliu Haddad, head of the country’s largest business association Algerian Business Leaders Forum, told a conference.


Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

Updated 25 June 2019
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Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO

  • ‘What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern’
  • Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day, given sizeable spare capacity

Saudi Aramco concerned over Gulf attacks, has capacity to meet demand: CEO
SEOUL: Saudi Aramco is concerned at recent actions in the Gulf but can meet its customers’ needs thanks to its experience and the availability of additional spare capacity, its chief executive said on Tuesday.
“What’s happening in the Gulf is definitely a concern,” Amin Nasser, president and chief executive of Saudi Arabia’s state oil giant, told Reuters in an interview.
“At the same time, we went through a number of crises in the past ... we’ve always met our customer commitments and we do have flexibility and the system availability in terms of available additional spare capacity.”
Recent tanker attacks in the Gulf have raised fears about safety of one of the world’s key shipping routes and pushed up oil prices.
Nasser, who is in Seoul ahead of a visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, said Aramco has no plan to increase its current maximum output capacity of 12 million barrels per day (bpd), given sizeable spare capacity.
“If you look at our production, it is hovering around 10 million barrels per day so we do have additional spare capacity,” he said.
The oil giant is aiming to become a major global gas player, and has been developing its own gas resources as well as eyeing gas assets in the United States, Russia, Australia and Africa.
Nasser said Aramco is in talks to buy a stake in Russian gas company Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2 project, while exploring other investment opportunities in gas.
He confirmed the company is also in discussions about buying a stake in India’s Reliance Industries and in talks with other Asian companies about investments.
“We will continue to explore opportunities in different markets and different companies, and these things take time,” he said.
Nasser said the company, South Korea’s top oil supplier, was looking to increase its crude oil supplies to the country where it has partnerships and investments with South Korean refiners.
Saudi Aramco supplies between 800,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 900,000 bpd to South Korea, the world’s fifth-largest crude importer.