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Algerian Premier Sellal seeks to bolster Africa’s low regional trade levels

Amid drop in world crude oil prices, Algeria is seeking to diversify its economy
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalek Sellal, right, delivers speech in Algiers during opening ceremony of African Investment and Business Forum on Saturday (AFP)

Algeria's premier said on Saturday regional trade in Africa was much lower than in other continents as the oil exporter seeks to diversify its revenue stream because of low crude prices.

Following the drop in world crude oil prices, Algeria is seeking to diversify its economy and has encouraged firms to do business with the rest of the continent, Abdelmalek Sellal said.

Regional trade makes up only about 12 percent of international commerce for African countries "compared with 40 percent in North America and 60 percent in Western Europe," Sellal said.

"More than 80 percent of African exports leave" the continent, he said at the opening of the African Investment and Business Forum in Algiers. 

Inter-African trade has barely increased over the past decade despite overall growth during that period, Sellal said at the event, which was attended by some 2,000 entrepreneurs.

One main obstacle is that "Africa does not consume what it produces and consumes what it does not produce," Sellal said.

Earlier this week, Sellal said that the Bank of Algiers has adopted a series of measures to regulate the exchange market and revive exchange offices in Algeria.

Exports to sub-Saharan Africa totalled just 0.25 percent of Algeria's exports over the first nine months of the year, according to official figures.

In comparison, Morocco has become the second-largest African investor in the continent after South Africa, with more than 60 percent of its foreign investments worldwide going to Africa, mainly sub-Saharan Africa, according to Morocco's OCP Policy Centre.