Algeria plans new investment law to attract more FDI

Country aims to develop its stock exchange and launch banking and financial reforms

Algerian Prime Minister and Finance Minister Aymen Benabderrahmane. AFP
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Algeria is preparing a new investment law to improve its business climate and attract foreign investors.

The intention is to boost the non-energy sector, Prime Minister Ayman Benabderrahmane said on Thursday.

He also announced plans to develop the country's small stock exchange and launch banking and financial reforms to find new funding sources for the oil-reliant economy.

Opec member Algeria, which relies heavily on oil and gas exports, faces financial problems caused by lower energy earnings. The situation worsened during the coronavirus pandemic, which hit crude demand and pressured international prices.

The North African country has so far failed to reduce its reliance on energy despite promises to develop the non-energy sector, with local and foreign investors complaining about obstacles, including bureaucracy.

"The government is working on a deep review of the investment law to take care of the various concerns of businessmen and the obstacles that prevented the realisation of projects," Mr Benabderrahmane, who is also finance minister, told parliament after debating the government action plan.

"We want to create an attractive investment environment to attract foreign direct investment to our country."

The new law will be ready within a few weeks to be submitted to legislators for debate, he said, but provided no details on plans.

Legislation approved last year allowed foreign investors to take majority stakes in projects in non-strategic sectors to diversify the economy away from oil and gas. Strategic sectors include mainly energy and pharmaceutical industries.

The new investment law will be accompanied by other measures to seek new financing sources, including developing the Algiers stock exchange, improving banks management, encouraging partnerships between private and state companies to carry out major projects and opening door to a greater role for Islamic finances, Mr Benaberrahmane said.

"The banking and financial reform will allow a transparent and efficient management," he said, repeating that the government will sell stakes in some of the country's six state banks.

The Algiers bourse is still one of the world's smallest, with a low capitalisation compared with neighbouring Tunisia and Morocco.

"We want to have alternative funding methods," Mr Benabderrahmane said.

Updated: September 18, 2021, 3:30 AM