"By 2035, Africa will be a market of two billion people"

H.E. Smail Benamara, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria to the Russian Federation, spoke about the prospects for Africa in the XXI century and the advantages for foreigners doing business in Algeria.

What do the people of your country think about Russia?

The image of Russia in my country is closely tied to the image of the Soviet Union and the support it gave to the Algerian people in their liberation struggle against colonialism. The people of Algeria still remember the material and diplomatic support at the international level during our just struggle to regain independence after 132 years of colonialism.

We also remember the sappers who came to us and risked their lives to help independent Algeria defuse thousands of bombs planted by the colonial army along the borders in the east and west of the country.

We must also not forget about the hundreds of Algerian leaders who were trained at the universities of the Soviet Union, and later in Russia, as well as Russian teachers who worked in Algeria in many areas and contributed to the creation of the country's economy.

Africa is referred to as the continent of the 21st century. Why do you think that is?

There are several reasons for this. First, it’s due to our enormous natural wealth, including in the energy sector, mining, forestry, hydropower, and tourism.

Second, I should note the growth rates, demographic features, and human potential, which is based primarily on young people. By 2035, Africa will be a market of two billion people, which means there will be huge demand in all sectors.

Finally, this vision is linked to the continent’s vast development opportunities that have yet to be realized, as we rely on its young, creative, and enthusiastic population.

What opportunities does your country offer Russian entrepreneurs?

The same opportunities that are provided to entrepreneurs in other countries; they are also similar to the opportunities that our country’s legislation provides to domestic players.

There are three factors that support economic stability and competitive market conditions that are favourable for foreign investment:

-   The adoption of a new law on investments, which offers potential Russian investors tax, quasi-fiscal, and customs benefits, as well as several other guarantees

-   Comparative advantages, including a competitive and profitable level of costs due to the availability of vast human and natural resources, cheap energy, an extensive road network, basic infrastructure, and skilled professionals

-   A strategic position in Africa that provides access to the markets of African countries, particularly in the context of the country’s membership in the African Continental Free Trade Area 

Some people believe that doing business in African countries entails serious risks. Is that actually the case?

This is more of a cliché than a reflection of the actual situation. The African market offers the greatest opportunity for investors because it is the least saturated market compared with other regions of the world. There is still a lot of work to be done in terms of facilitation and simplification, but there is definitely a significant ROI and comparative advantages that will increase with the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

What does your country expect from Russia? In all areas?

My country expects from Russia, as from all other countries, the establishment of a balanced and sustainable partnership, which will mean true development. This is why we are working to attract more investment and achieve a balance in foreign trade. Attracting investments should be expressed in the establishment of joint ventures, industrial production, and real scientific and technical exchanges.

What would you like to say to the people of Russia to get them to discover your country and the African continent as a whole? 

I want more Russian tourists to discover my country and Africa in general and to learn about the richness and diversity of our cultures, our traditions, and tourist sites. This will require consideration of the mutual easing of the visa regime and the expansion of flights.

Algeria has numerous unique attractions, such as the Sahara desert, where tourists can expect to make amazing discoveries: endless sand dunes, mountain ranges such as the Hoggars, Tassili frescoes that date back several millennia, and a diverse culture. They will also enjoy the warm welcome that the locals are known for.