February 03 – 08, 2021 | Algeria Press Review

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Photo: John S. on Flickr

February 08, 2021

Yasmina Khadra: “I solemnly ask our decision-makers to return all prisoners of conscience to their families”.

The famous Algerian writer Yasmina Khadra has appealed to Algerian decision-makers to release all prisoners of conscience in Algeria.

In an interview with the newspaper Liberté published on Monday, February 8, 2021, Yasmina Khadra was questioned on what view he takes “on today’s Algeria, two years after the extraordinary citizen uprising whose second anniversary we celebrate in a few days?”

“A wounded look, afflicted, but still vivid. Algeria deserves a better fate. We have suffered the worst outrages and paid a high price for a minimum of consideration, and now our sacrifices are crumbling against the absurdity of a system that doesn’t know where to stand,” replied the author of ‘Ce que le jour doit à la nuit’ (What the day owes to the night).

“I would be less bruised if we started by releasing all prisoners of conscience. I heard Ms. Nekkaz’s heart-rending appeal. My heart is full of it. I solemnly call on our decision-makers to be clear-headed and to return all prisoners of conscience to their families and their homeland,” Yasmina Khadra asked.

“Tyranny always ends up devouring itself. I wouldn’t want things to get out of hand. VIDEO-19 and the political and economic crisis are more than enough for our sorrows,” he added.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Algeria risks stagnation without comprehensive reforms

“Algeria is at a crossroads: it needs comprehensive reforms in the social, economic and governance sectors to rebuild the social contract between the state and Algerian society and to end the impasse between the hirak and the regime. “This is what Stellah Kwasi and Jakkie Cilliers, the authors of the report by the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), said under the theme ‘Stagnation or Growth? Algeria’s development trajectory up to 2040’.

The document of this African body defines, from the outset, all the challenges that the country will have to face if it wants to turn the tide and make up, even a little, for its failures when oil prices were at their highest levels. “The country must also manage the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the fall in oil prices, which has decimated public revenue and cut the state budget by about 50%,” the report points out, which forecasts low growth in Algeria’s gross domestic product (GDP) (1.8% between 2020 and 2040).

“This growth rate is not high enough to sufficiently improve the income and material existence of most Algerians, given the closed, state-run economic system, dependence on hydrocarbons, falling oil prices, high unemployment and the generous but inefficient subsidy system,” the report’s authors note.

To remedy this situation, the ISS states that “the current Algerian regime is in a difficult situation, having to deal with the hirak”. In addition to political and social issues, the report also highlights the shortcomings of the Algerian economic system, “characterised by an oversized bureaucracy, a lack of competition and diversification, favouritism and an over-regulated trade and investment environment”.

“It is clear that the Algerian people are seeking a new social contract with a responsive, efficient and more democratic government, which implies better service delivery, the elimination of corruption and favouritism, and a fair and inclusive system of governance,” the document says, also advocating economic openness, diversification, improving the quality of education and a shift to renewable energy.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Lyon: The Consulate General of Algeria temporarily closed because of COVID-19

The Algerian Consulate General of Algeria in Lyon had to close its doors from 5 February to 13 February inclusive because of the multiplication of COVID-19 cases. The press release specifies that a duty office is open “to respond only to emergencies related to the repatriation of remains”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Algiers airport is equipped with a rapid screening centre

The VFS Global centre has just announced the opening of a coronavirus testing centre at the Algiers airport, Houari Boumediene, which will be dedicated to all travellers embarking abroad. […] Indeed, this screening centre will be the very first centre to take PCR tests to detect COVID-19. It will then be set up at Algiers International Airport. These tests will obviously concern all those who wish to take flights abroad.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

COVID-19: The quota of the vaccine in the covax framework can cover 20% of the population.

The Director of Pharmacy and Medical Equipment at the Ministry of Health, Population and Hospital Reform, Prof. Wahiba Hadjoudj said that Algeria’s quota of vaccine against Coronavirus, within the framework of the Covax Group, ocillate between 12 and 16 million doses, which is able to ensure a vaccination of 20% of the population, as agreed within the group and the World Health Organization (WHO).

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Frater Razes in discussion with a Russian partner for the production of the vaccine

The Algerian pharmaceutical production laboratory ‘Frater Razes’ is in discussions with a Russian operator for the production of the vaccine ‘Sputnik V’ against the COVID-19 virus, announced Tuesday in Algiers the Minister of Pharmaceutical Industry, Lotfi Benbahmed.

At a press briefing, on the sidelines of the installation of the new National Observatory for monitoring the availability of pharmaceutical products, the minister said that “the Frater Razes laboratory has begun discussions with a Russian operator for the production of the vaccine Sputnik V in Algeria,” adding that the technical file for the production of the vaccine has been transmitted to the National Agency for Medicines for a month and a half.

There are four phases for the production of this vaccine, two of which can be carried out by national operators, according to him. Two other upstream phases concern biotechnology consisting of the use of live cells for the production of the vaccine.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.


February 07, 2021

Anti-Covid vaccination in Algeria: Benbouzid responds to criticism

Algeria launched the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 on Saturday 30 January, the day after it received 50,000 doses of the Russian ‘Sputnik V’ vaccine out of a total order of 500,000 units. Four days later, it received 50,000 doses of the COVID vaccine developed by AstraZeneca with Oxford University.

Algeria, which has estimated its needs at 40 million doses, will receive between 700,000 and 800,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine by the end of February, announced on Sunday 7 February, the Director General of Pharmacy at the Ministry of Health, Prof. Wahiba Hadjoudj. Speaking at a study day on the Algerian strategy of vaccination against COVID, organised by the APN, Mrs Hadjoudj said that Algeria has placed an order of 2.2 million doses with AstraZeneca, 35% of which will arrive at the end of this month.

Health Minister Abderrahmane Benbouzid, who was present at the meeting, announced that Algeria will receive between 12 and 16 million doses of the COVID vaccine, without specifying the date of arrival or the type of vaccine.

[…] In fact, Prof. Benbouzid pointed out, taking into account among other factors the free choice to be vaccinated, the threshold could be lowered to 32 million doses necessary to achieve herd immunity equivalent to 70% of the population. […] The minister explained that Algeria has begun negotiations with laboratories that have developed candidate vaccines since August 6 in order to secure vaccine supplies, with the commitment to make the vaccines available from January 2021, in accordance with the instructions of the President of the Republic.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Why Algeria did not buy the Pfizer vaccine: Benbouzid’s explanations

The minister recalled that the company producing the vaccine, ‘Pfizer’, had imposed on Algeria to acquire 20 million doses, initially at a dollar for each dose, reported several media.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Algerians stranded abroad: Repatriation flights will continue

Repatriation flights will continue according to the pre-established schedule, according to a recent statement by Sabri Boukadoum, Minister of Foreign Affairs, who was questioned by members of parliament. In his reply of 1 February 2021, the government representative recalled that “the State has mobilized all human and material resources for the success of repatriation operations”.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The distancing measures and the wearing of masks little respected: The worrying laxity

The curfew has therefore been extended from 20:00-5:00 to 22:00-5:00, while the relaxation and leisure areas, beaches and sports halls have been reopened. As a result, this weekend, several of these spaces were taken by storm by citizens who were just waiting for it, after months of closure. Several wilayas in the country, including the capital, decided on 2 February to relax the containment measures related to the spread of COVID-19. The curfew has therefore been extended from 20:00-5:00 to 22:00-5:00, while areas for relaxation, recreation, beaches and sports halls have been reopened. As a result, this weekend, several of these spaces were stormed by citizens who were just waiting for it, after months of closure.

This is notably the case in Algiers where the Test Garden and Les Sablettes have welcomed thousands of people since their reopening. Isn’t there a risk that these easing measures will provoke a “third wave”, given the large number of citizens who have flocked to certain places?

Some employees have been without pay for several months. Nevertheless, it should be noted that after each loosening, a clear increase in the number of contaminations was noted, as was the case, for example, after the election campaign for the referendum on the Constitution on 1 November last. It is true that hospitals have recently experienced a certain lull, but the risk is still there!

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.


February 06, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine: China to donate doses to Algeria

China will donate a quantity of doses of the Chinese COVID-19 vaccine to Algeria, the Chinese embassy in Algeria announced on Saturday on its Facebook page.

The Chinese diplomatic representation said that China will continue to assist Algeria in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. […] “Chinese aid will continue to fight against the pandemic in Algeria,” the embassy said, adding that China will soon donate a quantity of doses of Chinese COVID-19 vaccine to Algeria.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The experience of the COVID-19 epidemic, theme of the National Letter-writing Competition for Children

The National Letter-writing Competition open to children aged 9 to 15, which is part of the preparation for Algeria’s participation in the International Letter-writing Competition for Children, organized by the Universal Postal Union (UPU), is intended to be an excellent means of developing children’s writing skills and highlighting the social and educational role of the Post in our lives.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Algeria sends medical aid to Tunisia

This operation, which involves a donation of eleven (11) tons of medicines and means to fight against the pandemic of COVID-19 to the benefit of the town of Sakiet Sidi Youcef, was decided by the President of the Republic, Abdelmadjid Tebboune, said Mr. Saïhi, who kicked off, together with the Tunisian ambassador, from the Central Hospital Pharmacy (PCH), the caravan composed of two trucks carrying medicines and medical equipment.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.


February 05, 2021

In Algeria, social anger is rising in the face of health restrictions.

Foci of tension are increasing in the country against the backdrop of the economic crisis, aggravated by measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. …] Restrictions that have been poorly received by the population, while official figures from COVID-19 show fewer than 300 contaminations per day during the month of January. In Jijel, a coastal town in the east of the country, the announcements brought a few hundred people out onto the streets for two nights in a row.

The demonstrators, mostly young people, marched peacefully, taking up several songs from Hirak, the popular protest movement that began in February 2019. At the head of the procession was a banner with an explicit message: “failed policies are more dangerous than the corona”. In the face of the grumbling, the authorities finally gave up a few days later, relaxing certain measures. […] Since the beginning of the pandemic, 50,000 artisans and merchants are said to have gone out of business, according to the ANCA, a national association representing these corporations. As for unemployment, it should reach 15.8% in 2021, says Professor Abderrahmane Mebtoul.

[…] As the second anniversary of the outbreak of the popular protest of February 22, 2019 approaches, these events make some observers say that a return of Hirak is not to be ruled out. “The protest of the population in Laghouat confirms what will become a constant: a junction between the political movement and socio-economic demands, as is the case in Tunisia and Lebanon,” says sociologist Nacer Djabi on his social networks.

If the forecasts remain gloomy for the coming year, social transfers remain one of the factors likely to “mitigate the social implosion in the short term”, analyses Abderrahmane Mebtoul. “Beyond 2022, anything can happen if we don’t change governance and if we don’t revive growth coupled with the necessary social cohesion,” warns the economics professor.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The United States advises against travelling to Algeria

“Do not travel to Algeria because of COVID-19. Exercise greater caution in Algeria because of terrorism,” the U.S. State Department said in its travel recommendations published on its official website. “The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 4 travel health advisory for Algeria because of COVID-19,” the same document said.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.


February 04, 2021

COVID-19 vaccine: Can Algeria manufacture Sputnik-V?

As a reminder, Algeria started the vaccination campaign against the coronavirus last Saturday after receiving 50,000 doses of the Russian vaccine the day before. Another 50,000 doses of the Anglo-Swedish AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine were received last Monday. Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad received last Sunday the Russian ambassador to Algeria with whom he discussed the manufacture of Sputnik-V vaccine in Algeria. According to a statement by the Prime Minister’s office, “both parties agreed, in this regard, to initiate contacts between the competent services of the two countries to establish bilateral cooperation in the field of manufacturing of the Russian Sputnik-V vaccine in Algeria.”

For his part, the Director General of the National Agency for Pharmaceutical Products (ANPP), Kamel Mansouri, announced last Monday during his appearance on public television, that the production of the Russian vaccine Sputnik V will start in Algeria in the coming weeks.

Speaking on Wednesday on the radio channel 1, Mr. Boudissa was questioned on the means of Algeria to manufacture this vaccine. In this regard, if the human skills exist, the material means such as specialized type 4 laboratories are lacking. “You can imagine, we haven’t even been able to approve the mask (for protection against the coronavirus, editor’s note). We don’t have an Algerian laboratory that can certify a mask,” deplored Mr. Boudissa, adding that “this proves that we have a significant lack (of laboratories, editor’s note) and we must make up for this lack by drawing up a strategy in this area, in the public and private sectors as well as in scientific research, to have a network (of laboratories, editor’s note) with more credibility and more efficiency that is in line with the country’s general policy.”

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

The issue of resumption of Umrah flights is not on the agenda

BLIDA- The Minister of Religious Affairs and Wakfs, Youcef Belmehdi, said Thursday in Blida that the issue of resumption of Umrah flights “is not on the agenda”, given the continued closure of airspace to stop the spread of the new coronavirus epidemic.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.

Anti-COVID vaccination in Algeria: Bekkat Berkani’s criticisms

For Dr. Mohamed Bekkat Berkani, this vaccination campaign against COVID did not start as it should have, “There are 50,000 doctors, which is the equivalent of the 100,000 doses received. The nurses are just as numerous. So the two planes that brought back the 100,000 doses of vaccine are going to go just for the medical corps. And the others, especially the elderly? “asks the president of the Council of the Order of Physicians.

In the order of priority for vaccination against COVID-19, the health authorities have ranked the medical staff and the elderly.

Dr Bekkat Berkani puts his criticism of the management of the vaccination campaign into perspective. “The main thing is that Algeria has started vaccination”, which initially came up against a “wait-and-see wall” that President Tebboune’s decision “broke” by ordering vaccination to begin in January.

[…] “Vaccination is what it is: these are patients who come, pass the medical examination, are administered the vaccine and leave after half an hour of observation (monitoring of side effects). You can’t do that in a decentralised place? The multiplication of centres risks creating a form of disorganization,” he warns.

Dr. Bekkat Berkani recommends transparency and asks: “What happened to the digital platform for making appointments? Citizens are registering in the registers available to them in the polyclinics.”

“25,000 private doctors are not concerned, even though they are the most infected by COVID-19 and have suffered the most deaths among them? “Dr. Bekkat Berkani castigates Dr. Bekkat Berkani who recalls that doctors in the liberal sector had already been victims of this exclusion during the mask crisis.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.


February 03, 2021

How the virus has exposed Algeria’s vulnerability

The COVID-19 pandemic has once again revealed the shortcomings and delays in the Algerian health system and exposed Algeria’s vulnerability.

“Research today is fundamental if we want to move forward. Nothing can be done without research. We can no longer buy turnkey solutions,” says Prof. Mostefa Khiati, president of FOREM. As proof, the case of the anti-COVID vaccine that Algeria, like many countries, is seeking to acquire in sufficient doses to vaccinate its population and cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

We see it with the vaccine against COVID since we are in the process of begging left and right for vaccine doses,” he said. “It is imperative to set up an efficient system that would force us to put in place all the potential.”

Prof. Khiati also proposes to use Algerian expertise based abroad. “If we were to draw some analyses and conclusions on the last ten months that we have just spent (since the appearance of the COVID in Algeria, editor’s note), it would first of all be that we have not given enough importance to research, whereas we have a good network of research centres in the universities,” insists Prof. Khiati. […] “We have very experienced staff in the research centres, but there is no coordination between the different teams,” he regrets.

Algeria does not therefore suffer from a lack of competence in the field of sequencing and research, but more from a lack of valorisation. “We are talking about the (probable) manufacture of the anti-COVID vaccine in Algeria and I am sure that there are Algerian teams who are capable of it, but it should be noted that there is a whole chain, as for drugs. There are phases that you have to go through. And if there are Algerian experts who can carry out experiments in laboratories, there remains experimentation on humans, which is not yet codified in Algeria. But it is urgent to do so,” says Prof. Khiati.

For more information, please consult (in French) the following link.