Algeria: monthly report October 2023

Early October saw Algerian diplomatic efforts to end the crisis in Niger suffer a serious setback. According to its foreign ministry, Algiers will indefinitely postpone mediation talks with Niger officials until it has received “the necessary clarifications”. At the end of September Algeria had announced that general Omar Tchiani – who seized power in Niamey last July by overthrowing elected president Mohamed Bazoum in an army-backed coup – had agreed to join mediation talks brokered by the north-African country. Tchiani, however, quickly denied accepting Algeria’s proposal, which called for a six-month transition period towards a civilian government. Niger is a keystone of Algiers’ power projection in the Sahel due to joint infrastructural projects – such as an Algeria-Niger-Nigeria gas pipeline and the Niger stretch of the Trans-Saharan Highway – and to the increase in irregular migration from Niger to Algeria’s southern frontiers.

The Israel-Hamas conflict remains at the core of Algerian diplomacy in the Middle East. On October 16th, Algerian foreign minister Ahmed Attaf met his Tunisian counterpart, Nabil Ammar, to discuss the worsening security outlook in the Gaza Strip. On October 23rd, Attaf had telephone conversations with the Iranian and Syrian foreign ministers, Amir Hossein Abdollahian and Faisal Miqdad. Meanwhile the Algerian President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, spoke by phone with both its Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and the Italian prime minister, Giorgia Meloni. Tebboune also spoke to the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who is set to visit Algiers next month. On October 24thAttaf joined the UN Security Council emergency meeting in New York by the invitation of his Brazilian counterpart, Mauro Vieira: Algeria will join the ranks of the Council’s non-permanent members for 2024-25, together with Guyana, South Korea, Slovenia, and Sierra Leone.

New developments in the energy field. Eni CEO Claudio Descalzi met in Algiers with the newly nominated head of Sonatrach, Rachid Hachichi. Together with Algerian Energy minister Mohamed Arkab, the two discussed the development of Eni hydrocarbon concessions in Algeria as well as Algerian gas exports to Italy and Europe. Hachichi became the CEO of Sonatrach in early October, after the destitution of Toufik Hakkar, due to the allegations of financial mismanagement that rattled the Algerian hydrocarbon company across the last few months. It is worth remembering that Eni ranks among the largest Italian investors in Algeria. In April 2022, and during Tebboune’s presidential visit to Rome, the group signed a contract with Sonatrach for a yearly supply of 9 bcm of Algerian natural gas until 2024. The agreement remains crucial for the diversification of the Italian energy mix away from Russian sources. In the last few days Hachichi also met with TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné.

Algiers also seeks to ease its own dependence on the hydrocarbon sector. On the sidelines of the fifth annual Algeria-EU high-level Energy Dialogue, Algerian Energy minister Mohamed Arkab announced the launch of a 15-million-euro cooperation program on renewable energy. Meanwhile, the Algerian Ministry of Energy and the German Company for International Cooperation (GiZ) signed a contract for bilateral cooperation in the field of green hydrogen and renewable energy: the 12-million-euro agreement was sealed in Algiers during the fifth Algerian-German Energy Day. Obn the occasion Bilateral talks also focused on the Southern Hydrogen Corridor. The project – which should involve Snam, Trans Austria Gasleitung – Gas Connect Austria and Bayernets – is set to connect North Africa and continental Europe via Italy.

Download the October 2023 report

Algeria ready to take its relationship with Europe a step further

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