Interview with Hadidi Bouabdellah, Algeria

04.July.2011 · Posted in Featured, MEDinItaly Forum 27-29 June 2011

Interview with vicepresident of the Chamber of Commerce of the region Sersou Tiaret in Algeria during the forum MEDinItaly that was held in Reggio Calabria, Italy, last 29 June 2011.

I am the vicepresident of the Chamber of Commerce of my region in Algeria and I am also an entrepreneur. I am specialised in different domains: construction, and breeding cattle. I began as a farmer.

Are you from Algiers?
No I am from the west of Algeria. I come from Algeria’s biggest region in terms of production of cereals. We are the heart of the country. If we did not make our wheat nobody would live. We are the first producer of wheat in Algeria. We work in a region where 1 million people lives. We have many cattle farms. We are also the first in the secotr of horse farms. These are the qualities of my region that I stress everytime I speak. The sector of handicrafts is also important in my region. The state has encouraged many young people to go towards handicrafts.

How do you consider this forum that lasts three days?
The approach is very good. For a certain period of time I was at the head of public works business company during the 80s. At that time 80% of our import contracts were with Italians but lately Italians has left the country leaving space to Asian businesses. Every time we meet businessmen we tell them: “come forward, come in Algeria”. Another encouragement by the state is to have partnership contracts 49%-51%. This is a model that is developing very much. I think that meetings like this one are good for inviting people to look at the country. We don’t have to centralize: it is not just about Algiers [the capital city], we have to look at other regions as well, there are promotions. People want to work, they want to participate and then we have another quality: we have no problem in learning and confronting with other countries.

What do you think about the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt? May it happen to Algeria as well?
For sure there are problems in Algeria, but Algeria has already suffered in the past. It has had a very bad liberation war, years of terrorism, we have lost many people, 130 thousand. So we can’t say it will not happen. There are political problems in Algeria. I believe though that politicians have the experience because they lived what is now happening in other countries where they are obliged to make reforms, to support young people which are very important in Algeria. The are many graduated people on the street looking for jobs. For example in my region we have 15 thousand graduated waiting to work. The state should help young people even in business, help them, train them even through the Chambers of Commerce so that the young entrepreneur is well advised and guided to invest his money properly in the right direction.

Don’t you think that it is difficult now to talk about investing in North Africa as the West was very friend with Ben Ali and Mubarak just a few months ago? Wouldn’t it be necessary to change model of wealth distribution?
Well business was conducted with moral persons. I mean with the state not with a single person. For sure there has been cases in which investments have gone in the pockets of the families in power. But we cannot say that everything was like this. When you talk about trade deals it is never about single persons but about societies, companies, trade companies. In the case of a state it is the same. We always try to develop a country not a person. I think we talk about Ben Ali because there was a conflict in that country.

Ok let’s forget about Ben Ali and Mubarak. Wasn’t there a problem in the management of the wealth in those countries?
In Algeria we don’t have that model that was there. For what concerns those countries, I cannot say. I can talk about Algeria and some aspects of my country.

 

By Piervincenzo Canale
Special thanks to Vincenzo Bonfiglio

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