Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said the North African nation will allocate one billion dollars to finance development projects across the continent in a brazen bid to catch up with Morocco’s soft hegemony on the continent
Algeria is using its financial muscle, hoping to restore its declining influence in the African continent.
After consolidating historical and traditional alliances, especially with South Africa, Algeria is now playing the card of financial investments, allocating one billion dollars to establish new economic partnerships, according to AFP.
Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune said on Sunday the North African nation will allocate this sum to finance development projects across the continent through the Algerian Agency of International Cooperation for Solidarity and Development.
The official APS news agency said his decision was announced in a speech read by Prime Minister Aimene Benabderrahmane at the annual African Union summit of leaders in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
“I have decided to inject one billion US dollars for the benefit of the Algerian Agency of International Cooperation for Solidarity and Development to finance development projects in African countries,” read the speech, part of which was published by APS.
It said attention would be paid to “integration projects or those able to contribute to accelerating development in Africa.”
Tebboune said the agency’s approach was based on Algeria’s conviction that “security and stability in Africa are linked to development.”
Algeria is Africa’s top gas exporter.
APS said the government agency, established in 2020, would coordinate with African nations seeking to benefit from the initiative.
Most of the sessions at the two-day 36th annual AU summit have been held behind closed doors.
According to experts, Algeria’s recent move could be part of attempts to counter the impact of Morocco’s growing diplomatic, political and commercial activity on the continent.
Algeria’s role and influence in Africa has seen a noticeable decline in recent years as late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika failed to undertake meaningful outreach moves in the continent.
The former president focused primarily on European, Asian and American cooperation, largely neglecting African policies. For example, he made seven official visits to France but none to any African country.
It was not until the 2012 security crisis sparked in the Algerian Sahara by activities of jihadist groups that the Algerian government started giving its African relations serious attention.
At the time, authorities adopted a security-based approach to counter the growing activity and influence of al-Qaeda in the Saharan strip along Algeria’s border with Mali. The French decision to reduce France’s role and presence in an area regarded as a key gateway to sub-Saharan Africa pulled the rug from under the feet of the Algerian authorities.
The Algerian intelligence apparatus sees Morocco’s growing influence in the region as a new threat to the country, especially since Morocco’s growing relations with regional states are based on diplomacy, as many countries in the Sahel and Sahara increasingly look to Morocco as a solid partner.
What most worries Algeria, according to experts, is the transformation of its Saharan strip into a security zone rather than an inhabited area.
In recent years, Africa has once again become an arena for competition between world powers, led by China, the United States, Russia, the Gulf states and Turkey.
Morocco also achieved significant breakthroughs in Africa. It started by regaining its seat in the African Union in early 2017, which led many African countries, including the Comoros, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, the Central African Republic, Sao Tomé and Principe, to open representations in Morocco’s Saharan strip.