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Algeria Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

The Algerian presidency announced on 24 August that the constitutional referendum, for which a committee of experts was set up in January 2020 to reform the 2016 constitution, would take place on 1 November, a symbolic date marking the beginning of Algeria’s war of independence in 1954. Although constitutional reform was one of the key demands of the protest movement, the perceived lack of consultation with protesters' representatives, many of whom remain detained, is likely to reinforce protesters' perception of the government's unwillingness and inability to meet their demands of wholesale change to the political system. The COVID-19 virus outbreak forced protesters to call off their weekly protests in March, for the first time since protests began in February 2019. Protests gathering lower numbers (hundreds, compared with thousands and millions in 2019) have resumed in July, but the lead up to the elections is likely to gather larger crowds, despite confinement measures.Algeria's security forces' operations have effectively contained the domestic jihadist threat, reducing the likelihood of a successful attack in a major city. Nonetheless, the risk of transnational jihadist penetration from Libya, Mali, and Tunisia remains high.A supplementary finance bill has been adopted in June aimed at easing business regulation and attracting foreign investment, critical to Algeria’s economic recovery given the prolonged drop in global energy prices and, to a lesser extent, the COVID-19 pandemic. The Central Bank of Algeria will likely continue financing its fiscal deficit (of about 10% of GDP in 2019) unconventionally by printing money. So far, the government has avoided inflationary consequences by increasing minimum mandatory financial-sector reserves requirements to drain banking liquidity, but this approach is unlikely to prove sustainable. For 2020, we expect post-electoral fiscal austerity, together with softer global conditions, to slow Algeria's economy. The economic outlook is also subject to the electoral process and policy stance of the new president.

Operational Outlook

Although legal barriers to non-hydrocarbon investment are gradually being reduced and will likely continue in an attempt to attract FDI, the state will maintain control over strategic sectors such as energy, automotive, and steel. Foreign investments are at risk of expropriation in the event of disputes with the government, or if they fail to perform to expectations. Administrative inefficiency, corruption, and an overburdened legal system continue to pose obstacles for business. Anti-government protests are likely to cause business and traffic disruption, especially on Fridays, across Algeria.

Terrorism

High

Escalation of domestic civil unrest would require the allocation of security force personnel and other resources to major cities, but is unlikely to critically deplete resources along Algeria’s borders or in militant hotspots. Troop deployments to the eastern and southern borders with Libya, Mali, and Tunisia remain in place, mitigating the risk of jihadist incursions. Given the distances involved, this is, however, insufficient to prevent all infiltration. The Algerian army (APN) regularly discovers arms and ammunition caches, most commonly IEDs and small-arms. Jihadist groups lack the capability and willingness to undertake a major attack in large urban centres, instead focusing on localised attacks targeting security forces, and isolated kidnap for ransom.

Crime

The majority of crimes tend to be committed by individuals or small numbers of low-capability and poorly organised criminal groups. These do not exert significant influence over local authorities or public institutions, nor do they pose an extortion risk to businesses. Petty crime usually occurs in poorer urban areas, away from business and leisure areas frequented by expatriates, which enjoy higher security presence, including police checkpoints. The most serious criminality comes from jihadist-related criminality to finance their activities, such as illegal narcotics, and weapons and human trafficking, particularly along the southern borders. The risk from violent crime is moderate.

War Risks

Algeria has long placed high emphasis on securing its more than 6,000-km border areas, particularly against jihadist penetration from Libya, Mali, and Niger, and this is likely to reinforce it during the ongoing anti-government protests. Algeria's established military doctrine excludes deployment on operations outside Algeria and gives primacy to enhancing frontier security. Consequently, regional security co-operation remains weak, although Algeria has stepped up security co-operation with neighbouring states; for instance, participating in the January 2020 Berlin conference on Libya. On the Libyan side, co-operation is problematic, given the prevalence of competing militias there and the absence of any effective state military forces.

Social Stability

Algeria has witnessed its largest protests in 20 years demanding for a wholesale change in political protests. These are likely to resume after the COVID-19 virus pandemic. President Abdelmadjid Tebboune's proposed socioeconomic reforms are unlikely to gain traction unless further concessions that are considered more credible are undertaken by the authorities, including the release of all detained protesters.

Health Risk

Vaccines Required to Enter the Country

Yellow fever: There is no risk of contracting yellow fever in Algeria. However, the government of Algeria requires proof of vaccination for travelers arriving from countries with a risk of yellow fever transmission. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease.

Vaccines Recommended for All Travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines Recommended for Most Travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines Recommended for Some Travelers

Malaria: There is a low risk of contracting malaria. As such, doctors usually advise travelers to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites rather than prescribing antimalarial medications.

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Natural Risks

Algeria is highly vulnerable to floods. In 2001, flooding in the Algiers neighborhood of Bab El Oued left nearly 1000 people dead and caused major damage.

Earthquakes sometimes strike in the north of the country. On May 21, 2003, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.7 on the Richter scale left 2200 dead and 15,000 homeless in Boumerdès. Less violent earthquakes occur regularly. To learn more about what to do before, during, and after an earthquake, see this advice from the US Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Snowfall may occur in the winter and can cause widespread transportation disruptions.

Transportation

Algeria suffers from a high number of road-related fatalities due to poor road conditions and driving habits. Despite an improvement in road security measures over the past few years, the number of incidents remains high. The Ministry of the Interior reported that approximately 12 people die per day in traffic incidents, a rate of approximately 4380 deaths per year.

Travel by road outside of cities is not advised. If traveling by car is unavoidable, do so in a convoy of several vehicles equipped with emergency communication devices (e.g. satellite telephones). Roadside ambushes are infrequent but at least four separate incidents occurred in 2016, leaving several Algerian citizens dead. In all cases, it is preferable to travel with a local.

Military and police checkpoints are common on major roads within large cities and throughout the countryside. Security personnel at these checkpoints expect full cooperation. For these and other reasons, air travel is preferred inside the country.

If taking a taxi, ask your hotel to recommend a reliable company and do not allow other unknown passengers to join you during the journey. Arrange for the driver to collect you for the return journey as taxis are not widely available, particularly after dark.

Travel by train is possible between Algiers and Oran but is not recommended.

The SNCM ferry company (La Société Nationale Corse Méditerranée) serves both Algiers and Skikda from Marseille, and Oran from Alicante (Spain). The ferry transports both cars and people. It is advised to arrange for your pick up from the port of arrival in advance.  

Algiers-Houari Boumediene International Airport (ALG) is located in the southeast of the capital and adheres to international air safety standards. While security measures are not on par with those of US airports, security personnel are present throughout the airport. The government has recently taken steps to improve airport security.

Practical Information

Climate

The north of the country, including along the coastline and the Tell Atlas mountain chain, has a Mediterranean climate (hot and dry summers, cool and wet winters). The high plateau regions in the center of the country are semi-arid while the area south of the Saharan Atlas chain is desert.

Temperatures can vary significantly within a single day, particularly in the Sahara Desert where temperatures can fluctuate between extremes in the space of a few hours (above 40°C during the day and below 5°C at night).

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +213
Police: 21

Electricity

Voltage: 230 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal