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Lack of funds sees 50% of Algerian newspapers stop publication

Newspaper stall in Algeria [Maya-Anaïs Yataghène/Flickr]

Nearly half of Algeria’s newspapers have stopped publication in the past three years because of the scarcity of resources caused by the oil shock, the country’s Information Minister, Jamal Kaouan, has revealed. “Twenty-six daily and 34 weekly newspapers have stopped publishing since the beginning of the financial crisis in Algeria in 2014,” Kaouan told a local radio station. Over 140 newspapers were active in Algeria until the crisis.

Algeria has been experiencing an economic crisis due to the decline in oil prices globally. Oil revenues account for 97 per cent of the country’s foreign currency income and 60 per cent of the budget resources. For the 18th-largest producer in the world, these falls in the price of oil could mean catastrophe, as more than $80 billion of Forex reserves have been lost in the past two years, a disaster for a country whose GDP relies on hydrocarbons.

Read: Algeria to increase gas exports to Europe

Despite it being a country of free trade, the economy is mainly under state control where production or manufacturing requires prior permission from the authorities. As it begins to wean itself off its reliance on hydrocarbons, Algeria’s status as the 9th largest gas producer in the world is no longer a given, and an investment of $60 billion in the next 14 years in solar and wind power is likely to be justified as a way to save around 300 billion cubic metres of natural gas until 2030 for future consumption.

At the end of last year, former Minister of Information Hamid Qureen explained how “advertising by state institutions fell by 65 per cent during 2015 and 2016, due to the decline in oil revenues.” The advertising sector in Algeria is valued at around $200 million annually, according to government figures published in 2015.

Algeria’s newest Prime Minister, Ahmed Ouyahia, was sworn-in as a familiar face whose past experience in steering the country during turbulent times will be used once again to reassure Algerians that any reforms will be in the best interests of the country.

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