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Developments of Post and ICT sector since 1962

In the aftermath of independence, Algeria was confronted with a situation of the most archaic in the field of post and telecommunications, in the light of technological progress in the world. Apart from the infrastructure which responded to the needs of colonisation and settlers, our people remained on the edge of progress and development in many sectors. The divide in the postal and telephone area echoed the state of deprivation and poverty of our population especially that of our countryside was totally excluded from the postal and telephone network. Thus, the Algerian State has committed to gradually catch up this delay by implementing with success several development plans.

 

 

From 1962 to 2000: Challenges to keep up with service continuity, expanding and network modernization

With regard to the Post, the situation of the postal services in 1962 suffered a deficiency of the postal network and a significant disparity between the city and the countryside. During the first years of independence, postal services were vital while it had to dealing with a difficult situation with regard to reduced staff composed of young personnel with little experience and precarious equipment. The tasks were so laborious and everything had to be implemented to :

  •  Ensure at all costs the continuity of services
  •  Reduce disparities between cities and rural areas through the creation of new postal facilities
  •  Develop channelling circuits and distribution networks to attend remote populations
  •  Create new connections at International level using all means of transport in order to ensure regular and regular exchanges with all countries

By the end of 1962, Algeria claimed 826 operational post offices across the country. Thanks to the program authorizations obtained through the various development plans, the postal network has stretched to 3310 facilities in early 2000, that is to say a post office for every 9500 residents. The resources allocated by the Government to the development of the postal sector have led, in addition to the extension of this network, to achieving important actions which have resulted in increasing the flow and bringing in IT resources, especially for the management of postal current accounts from 1974. Therefore, the principal post offices located in the administrative centres of the Wilaya or the province have benefited from transportation for the channelling and delivery of mail. Operations became automated (franking machines, postal orders machines, counting machines, etc.). During this period, the management created the postal cheque centres of Oran and Constantine to lighten the load of the centre of Algiers and thus reducing the time when channelling mail aimed at the CCP account holders.

On the eve of the three-year plan of 1967, our country had four sorting centers organised as follows: 02 sorting centers for postal mail, 02 sorting centers for parcels located in Algiers and Oran. Regional orders sorting centers and CNEP activity have also been created in 08 regions of the national territory by region and service compartment. These achievements have increased the number of CNEP accounts from 23,000 in 1965 to over 3.2 million accounts in 2000. The number of CCP accounts jumped from 150,000 in 1962 to 5.4 million in 2000 with 240 billion AD assets. The efforts done by the administration concerning distribution mail matters focused on two key actions, namely the extending the distribution network through the creation of new rotations in cities and c countryside, bringing the number of rotations from 1100 to over 3800 in 2000. The mailboxes park expanded from 4000 in 1962 to over 162,000 in 2000. As for full-time employees of the postal administration, the number increased from 2,000 agents in 1962 to over 21,000 in 2000. In terms of competition, it should be stated that the postal sector was partially opened to competition before the reforms of 2000 and thanks to a legislative decree which permitted the operator DHL of EMS mail to create a company under Algerian law in 1994.
Regarding telecommunications, the national network, formed in the aftermath of Independence, was composed of 146,000 equipment serving 108,000 subscribers, for a population of around 8 million people. The national network was spread over old stations that did not meet the requirements for a normal flow of traffic. This network covered only a small part of the national territory and its deployment does not correspond to the needs of the country.
In terms of transmissions, the network was basically made of overhead lines for serving only the major urban centers. International telephone connections, meanwhile, existed only with France, Morocco and Tunisia. Overall, the services provided during the period 1962 - 1999 were limited to telephony and telex. In terms of human resources, the number of engineers and technicians of telecommunications was very low at the Independence, and the government has since 1963 send technical staff to train abroad. The following years witnessed the launching of training and development activities and, along with the building and opening of the National School of Telecommunications Studies (ENET) in Algiers to train of technicians and senior technicians and the National Institute of Telecommunications of Oran to train technicians and application engineers.

From 2000 to 2015: Reforms, Challenges of Globalization and Competition

The sector of post and telecommunications was until 2000 governed primarily by the Ordinance No. 75-89 of December 30, 1975 affording the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications both the mission of defining the sector’s policy and the role of operator and regulator. It has therefore the control of postal services and telecommunications. In 2000, the Government has opted for a radical reform of post and telecommunications sector to meet the challenges of the 21st century and make Algeria embark on information society. This reform was driven by the need to ensure the competitiveness and diversification of the Algerian economy and its businesses and to foster the development of a dynamic and competitive telecommunications sector. This took place in a context of increasing globalization, the preparation of the accession of Algeria to the World Trade Organization and the negotiation of an Association Agreement with the European Union.

The strategy developed in favor of this ambitious reform sought, inter alia, to reach the following main objectives:

  •  Increasing the supply of postal and telephone services and to facilitate access to telecommunications services to the greatest number of users, especially in rural areas.
  •  To improve the quality of services and increase the range of provided services.
  •  Ensure access to rural residents and other disadvantaged groups to postal services, telecommunications and information networks.
  •  To develop a reliable national telecommunications network and connected to the information superhighway.
  •  Promote post and telecommunications as an essential economic sector booster for a progress open to the world, where services shall account for a significant share of GDP.

The main pillars of the implemented reform program revolved around :

  •  The restructuring of the legislative and regulatory framework for sectors of Post and Telecommunications to reach solid and transparent foundations
  •  The separation of the operational processes, the regulation and sectorial policy took place by splitting the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) into a telecommunications company, a postal company, a regulatory authority and a ministerial department responsible for the sectorial policy of Post and telecommunications.
  •  The liberalisation of telecommunications and postal markets, their opening towards increasing competition and promoting private contribution and investment in these sectors
  •  The preservation and development of universal service on the whole territory

As for the post is concerned and in favor of the new legal framework established by the promulgation of the Law 2000-03 of the 5th August 2000 which sets the general rules to post and telecommunications, operating activities were entrusted, from 2002, to the industrial and commercial public establishment (EPIC), Algeria Post, set up by the Executive Decree No. 02-43 of 14 January 2002. Similarly, the diversification of services was introduced by opening competition in some segments to the benefit of citizens. This openness has allowed the emergence of other 4 EMS mail operators including a public operator (FEDEX, UPS, CHRONOPOST and Champion poste d’Algérie Poste) and 40 postal operators acting on the segment of the simple declaration concerning the distribution of domestic items which weight is fixed by law . Development efforts and modernization of the postal sector continued with the various development programs.

These programs have achieved the following objectives:

  •  Expand, renovate and modernize the postal network, while ensuring secure the universal postal service
  •  Gradually computerize all operations in front and back-office at post offices
  •  Optimize the organization of the delivery and distribution of mail, by using the post code and respecting the address standard
  •  Introduce automatic mail sorting
  •  Deploy an electronic mail system
  •  Set up as part of the process of reform and modernization of the national financial system and paperless payment media, an electronic banking system by installing electronic payment terminals, cash points and offering a range of new services.

Furthermore, as part of promoting of our philatelic heritage, which reflects the historical, cultural, institutional and socio-economic image of the country, it was decided in 2006 to design and implement an anthology of postage stamps. In 2007, an extremely high-quality encyclopaedia containing nearly 1600 stamps in 6 volumes was prepared. This great artistic work was published in four languages (Arabic, French, English and Spanish).

 

Considerable efforts were made in terms of development dynamics in the period 2000-2015. They are illustrated in the following aspects :

Out of the 3 310 post offices which composed the national network in 2000, around 50% are located in rural areas and more than 350 establishments were not accessible to the public. Furthermore, the state has focused its efforts to reopen offices and proceed with network densification. It has also allowed stepping up from 3310 offices in 2000 to more than 3700 in 2015. During the same period, the number of sorting centers has increased from 9 to 11 centers following the creation of a specialised center for postal current accounts mail (CCP) and another one for ordinary mail dedicated for the Wilaya of Algiers. The number of 4 centers specialised in post parcels did not change due to the opening segment for competition which currently revolves around 5 EMS operators and 40 operators for the regime of simple declaration.

The mailboxes park has in turn increased from 162,000 to 400,000 boxes in 2000 while in 2015 the number of CCP accounts increased from 5.4 million in 2000 to over 18.5 million accounts in 2015 with a financial asset of 600 billion AD. As part of the convergence of telecommunications networks and the use of the Internet, a platform of 1500 special lines were acquired and installed in 2007 for the needs of post offices. This IP platform was complemented by a messaging platform with a capacity of 500,000 boxes, allowing Algeria Post to set up its own intranet messaging network.
The administration of computer communication network for the CCP has also been, in 2002, done the acquisition of a set of hardware and software to monitor, diagnose and perform remote maintenance.
At the end of 1999, In terms of electronic banking, 110 ATMs were installed for the benefit of 100,000 cardholders of PTT magnetic cards. For this reason, a project electronic payment was launched by Algeria Poste, implementing and integrating the domestic financial system reform process aiming in particular the modernization of retail payment systems and dematerialization of payment. Thus in 2007, an electronic banking center and its back up have been set up. Electronic cardholders reached in 2015 the number of 7 milions and a network 700 ATMs.

Postal financial services are dominant in the market for payments and savings and are, therefore, the largest and most modern network in the country, based on transactional systems in real time.
In addition to the projects for intensification and improvement of the postal network, Algeria Post has set up centers equipped with high technology (national and international automated sorting center, hybrid mail center, electronic banking center, CCP card personalization center, claims processing center and the center of Philately).
The modernization of equipment through :

  • Implementing in multimedia terminals in post offices to offer consulting services for CCP and Internet accounts to citizens in deprived areas
  • Installing ATM machines as well as banknote counters, to improve customer service efficiency
  • Putting in place an automated sorting of postal items
  • Computerisation of post offices to improve the processing of information that significantly affects the quality of service offered to customers
  • Purchasing hybrid mail management system to receive electronically mails of the large invoicing customers, processing them and conveying it then through traditional channels.
  • Modernisation of the range of services by introducing :
    • the electronic funds transfer system (EFT) the electronic funds transfer system (EFT)
    • Putting in place a system to consult data and signatures
    • Using CNEP application for real-time operations
    • Implementing an international mail tracking system (IPS)
    • Introducing application ISS / IMO that supports the management of the international orders
    • Utilising Remote Access Service to CCP accounts
    • Downloading and printing documents

Regarding telecommunications, Algerie Telecom is the main and historical actor in charge of network operations and essential tool for the implementation of a major player in introducing new information technologies and communication strategy in Algeria. It affirmed therefore its full contribution to the building of the Algerian information society and, by connecting the largest possible public.
The Algeria Telecom action plan aims at modernizing the network. This modernization can be made possible only through the intensification of the fiber optics to allow to federate the voice and data networks at national level as well as the generalisation of the use of fiber optics medium in urban areas by replacing old copper wires, which are very expensive and which are the main source of deterioration in the quality of service.
To convey voice and data, the international network is composed of submarine connections, terrestrial and satellite. Given the urgent demand for IP capabilities required by the rapid emergence of Internet and broadband Internet, the submarine liaison Alpal2 which connects Algiers to Palma experienced in 2007, an expansion from 2.5 Gbps to 10 Gbps.

The second submarine liaison "SMW4" connecting Annaba, Marseille and Singapore offers more diversified opportunities in terms of capacity and multiple the point of interconnection that allow the establishment of diversified offers for voice and internet. To enhance bandwidth capabilities, a third cable of a capacity of 100 Gbps submarine will be connecting Oran to Valencia (Spain) from the beginning of 2017 and Algiers to Valencia.
Furthermore, and in order to optimize the rental fees of international liaison and channel international calls to Algeria, Algerie Telecom has established presence points in Europe with the first was created in 2011 in Marseille.
In the field of the Internet, the evolution is positive in many respects. The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development,CNUCED, in its report "Information Economy Report 2009: Trends and Prospects" has ranked Algeria among the five African countries that concentrates 90% of subscribers to Broadband Internet with Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and South Africa. This being the result of upgrading, remediation, organization and efforts to develop and expand of national and international transmission networks.

Indeed, since 2008, 1541 municipalities have been linked to the internet via the ADSL network, therefore connecting households, businesses... The international bandwidth was limited to two links of 34 Mbps experienced a progressive increase from 2004 to 5 Gbps in 2005, 10,8Gbps in 2007, 48 Gbps 2010 to reach 420 Gbps today with a diversified international media (Alpal2, SMW4) and International Internet providers .
With regard to mobile telephony, thanks to the 2000-03 law the market is open to private investment which encourages competition so as to provide a quality public service at a reasonable cost throughout the national territory. Soon, the market experienced an unprecedented boom. In 2002 a second operator, Orascom Telecom Algérie - Djezzy, came to compete with the public operator ATM- Mobilis- to the delight of users. This competition becomes more difficult from the summer 2004 with the installation of de Wataniya Télécom Algérie, Nedjma, today known as Ooredoo. In May 2001, The ARTP is established as the industry regulator, to ensure the smooth operation of the market and competition, and the preservation of the general interest of users.

The three operators now share more than 38 million subscribers with increasingly diversified offers at competitive prices. The 3G mobile phone technology is being implemented since 2014 and gradually spreads over the entire national territory .