Algeria may not be the most legitimately democratic country but it is rather stable politically and also economically. Oil prices do impact them, but Algeria has a nice energy export business for oil, natural gas and other petroleum products. Strong reserves exist as well. Inflation has typically hovered right around 3% in recent years.
Given its proximity to Europe at the top of the western side of Africa it may be an ideal entry point for a business to enter Africa.
- Algeria is almost 3.5 times the size of Texas.
- Current estimates place the population at just about 40 million, which would place it as the 8th largest in Africa.
- The population is relatively young with only about 12% of citizens over the age of 55. 44% of the population is 0-24 years of age and another 44% 25-54 years of age.
- Life expectancy in Algeria is a healthy 77 years of age with little difference between men and women.
- 84% of the urban population has improved drinking water and 82% in the rural areas.
- The official language is Arabic. But other languages are prevalent in the country such as: French (lingua franca) and various Berber dialects. One such Berber dialect, Tamazight, was granted in 2002 the status of being a national language which is just a level below an official language.
- The literacy rate in Algeria is 64%.
- French is not typically spoken among natives to one another, although there are a few French language TV channels available.
- The Berber language, as a national language, can be taught in schools and as of February 2016 can now appear on official documents.
- 25% of Algerians speak a Berber dialect.
- Muslim (mostly Sunni and some Shiite) is the official religion in Algeria. Almost exclusively as other religions are only followed by 1% of the population combined.
- Writer Albert Camus may be the most well-known celebrity from Algeria to the rest of the world. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He most famous works, which are set in Algeria, are The Stranger and The Plague.
- The national flag of Algeria includes a green and white vertical bar and in the center a red star and a crescent. The green color as well as the star and crescent represent Islam, the white is for peace. The red is for the blood of those who fought for independence.
- Couscous is a traditional Berber dish served throughout North Africa, including Algeria. It is morsels of durum wheat called semolina that are steamed. A meat or vegetable stew is often poured over it.
- In greeting, unless you know the other person or family well, it is most common to shake hands or nod your head in recognition of the other party. A kiss on the cheek is only for people who know one another well. A man should wait for a woman to extend her hand, otherwise a nod is appropriate. It is not acceptable for Islamic men and women to touch one another, except brothers and sisters and husband and wife.
- About 1 in 5 people in Algeria have internet access, so eCommerce in the country is very low. But there is opportunity for an area of growth.
- Algerian consumers favor price over brands.
- Average household size is 6 people. Much of a household’s monthly expenditure go to housing and food expenses.
- Algerians maintain very little debt (about 2%). Consumer credit is rather new to the country. The government is currently rolling out a consumer credit program to favor goods manufactured within the country.
- The Algerian Dinar value to the US$ has fluctuated quite a bit with the rise and fall of oil prices in the past year. Currently, 1 US dollar equals 110.495 Algerian Dinar.
- The population is expected to increase from 40 million to 48 million by 2030.
- The government will need to reduce the reliance on their GDP from oil and gas as prices for these commodities is expected to remain low for the foreseeable future. The actions to be taken for future growth into other industries is not clear.
- Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) is one area the government is considering to help grow the economy outside of the Energy revenues. This would encourage outside investment. Before such plans can be implemented much internal debate on the process will be needed and clarity for how to assure investors that the bidding processes will be fair and provide confidence that investments made are sound.
- Green Energy is yet another energy export being considered. The government is looking into building a large solar energy farm with the idea to sell the energy to Europe.
- China is investing into Algeria to grow industrial businesses. They are providing jobs to locals as well as bringing in workers from China (35k+). They have stated a commitment to grow their interest in Algeria further. Today they are Algeria’s leading trade partner usurping France for the second consecutive year.
While much work is needed to improve government, infrastructure and diversify the economy Algeria is considered to have a stable government, strong, modern military and ideal location to grow new business opportunities and shield itself a bit from disruptive military organizations operating in Africa and in the Middle East region.