Algiers – Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika is planning to boost the countrys power sector in a bid to keep it humming, but with a shortage of workers.
Algier’s government has announced that it plans to introduce a “zero-hours” scheme that will see a full-time worker in a fulltime job for half the wage paid to a part-time employee.
The move follows a similar initiative introduced by the country’s previous president, the late King Mohammed VI, which saw many Algerians put on full- or part- time jobs after the end of the country s colonial rule in the 1960s.
But it is a move that faces a huge hurdle in a country of just under three million people that was once one of the worlds top producers of oil and gas.
The scheme is the latest effort by the new government to try and ease the nations energy crisis, which has been exacerbated by the war in neighbouring Syria and the ongoing refugee crisis.
In the last three months, the number of workers in the Algerian power industry has risen from 2,000 to nearly 5,000, the majority of them part-timers.
The new measure is aimed at helping the Algerians to meet the energy demands of the future, but experts are concerned that it may exacerbate the countryns energy woes.
“I think it’s going to cause a lot of problems,” said El-Haddad, a senior researcher at the Alger Research Centre for the Middle East and North Africa.
“It will also be a disaster for the economy.”
The Algerian government has also announced plans to boost energy efficiency, but El- Haddad said that the move could not come at the expense of jobs.
“The Algerians have a good infrastructure and they are able to provide a good standard of living.
But what the government has done is to put the focus on the bottom line and what it means to get rid of waste,” he said.
El-Hadad added that he feared that the government could put the measures into place as soon as the Algerias new constitution is ratified.
But some experts, including Professor Mohamed El-Sharaa, a member of the Alger Studies Department at the University of Algeria, believe that the measures could actually boost the economy.
“We know that Algeria has a good energy sector, but the Algerias energy demand has grown by 10 per cent over the past five years, so it’s quite a good number of jobs, if not more,” El- Sharaa said.
But, as El-Hamad explained, “we need to remember that Algeria is still a backward country, with a low level of technology and an old energy infrastructure.”
For now, El- Hamad said, “the Algerian energy sector is still struggling to provide jobs.”