To compete with Morocco in Africa, Algeria creates its international cooperation agency

In order to compete with Morocco on the African scene, Algeria has set up an international cooperation agency, as instructed by President Tebboune.

Mohamed Chafik Mesbah, head of Algeria's international cooperation agency. / DR
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Following in Morocco's footsteps, Algeria now has created its own International Cooperation Agency (AACI). President Abdelmadjid Tebboune has entrusted the leadership of the new body to army colonel Mohamed Chafik Mesbah, who was internal security adviser to former head of state Lamine Zeroual (November 27, 1995 - April 27, 1999).

Africa is the priority field of action of the body wanted by Tebboune. Besides, he chose the last summit of the African Union, organized in February in Addis Ababa, to announce the creation of the agency. «I decided to inject momentum into Algeria’s international cooperation, particularly with African countries and the Sahel», he said.

The announcement was also made by the Minister of Communication, spokesperson for the presidency Mohand Oussaid Belaid at a press conference held on April 22. Belaid then referred to the main goals of the Agency, including «technical monitoring of cooperation and assistance projects" funded by his country for the benefit of «neighboring States and the Sahel, which strengthens [the] ties of brotherhood and friendship with these countries», he said.

Competing with Morocco’s presence

As expected, AACI has been under the spotlight, especially when it comes to media close to the Algerian regime. For example, participants in a debate show, broadcast Tuesday evening on Echourouk News, welcomed the launch of the AACI. They stressed that the eastern neighbor now has a suitable framework to compete with Morocco on the African scene.

They added that the Kingdom had benefited from the years of illness of former president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to establish its economic and religious influence on the continent.

Morocco's head start is the fruit of efforts, made over the years, by several actors, starting with the Office Chérifien des phosphates (OCP), intelligence, security and religious organizations (zaouias). The actions consisted in particular of participation in peacekeeping missions under the aegis of the United Nations, sending humanitarian aid to African countries struck by natural disasters, and granting scholarships to African students.

Africa is once again a land of contention between the two neighboring countries. Algiers had tried, but without real success at least so far, to shake up Morocco's leadership in the investment field. In the aftermath of King Mohammed VI's speech on November 6, 2016 on the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the Green March given from Dakar, the former Algerian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ratmane Lamamra, had reacted by announcing the holding in December of the same year of the first edition of the African Investment and Business Forum.

The start-up of the Algerian Agency for International Cooperation comes in a gloomy economic context. The Minister of Communication and spokesperson for the presidency has also dismissed the question of a journalist, which focused on the impact of the drop in oil prices on the Agency's projects.

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