Adel Hamaizia

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Hundreds of Tunisian taxi drivers block a tramway road to protest the new fuel price hikes in the capital city of Tunis, Tunisia on 15 April 2019. Photo by Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

The phasing out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies is a key part of the global climate change agenda as well as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their negative environmental impacts and associated costs are well known. They lead to overconsumption, divert business to rent-seeking energy-intensive activities and drain government expenditure at the expense of public goods such as infrastructure, healthcare and education. Low energy prices also mainly benefit the wealthiest populations.

The MENA region is responsible for almost half of global energy consumption subsidies. Increases in energy prices put significant pressure on MENA social contracts as the benefits are generally not immediately tangible for the wider population.…  Seguir leyendo »

The first Saudi citizen to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine speaks to reporters at a vaccination centre supervised by the health ministry in the capital Riyadh. Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images.

Gulf governments responded quickly and decisively to the shock of the pandemic with lockdowns among the toughest in the world, according to the Oxford Stringency Index, and as cases dropped, only the UAE has suffered a significant resurgence so far.

Although economic policies have eased to support businesses and households, with central banks cutting interest rates, liquidity provided to banks, and an encouragement to defer loan payments for borrowers, fiscal policy has played an important, but lesser role.

With the loss of oil revenues putting a strain on public finances and with many people employed in public sector jobs, there was less need for a countercyclical fiscal policy response than elsewhere.…  Seguir leyendo »

Chinese construction workers carry reinforcing rods on a building site in the Kouba district of Algiers, Algeria. Photo by Pascal Parrot/Getty Images.

The bilateral relationship between Algeria and China dates back to the Afro-Asian Bandung Conference in 1955. It was strengthened by China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with the pre-independence provisional government of Algeria in 1958, and the latter’s reciprocal support as China sought to restore its seat at the UN Security Council in 1971.

Their trade and investment relations took off in earnest in the 2000s during the era of high hydrocarbon rents, evolving gradually into a relationship of economic asymmetry and political expediency.

Paradoxically, as Algeria’s hydrocarbon rents continue to shrink, the scope of economic relations with China will likely expand rather than contract in the years ahead.…  Seguir leyendo »

Iraqi Southern Oil Company engineers look towards the flares in the Zubair oil field in southern Iraq. Photo by ESSAM -AL-SUDANI/AFP via Getty Images.

Flaring is a significant source of economic and environmental waste. Except when safety-related, flared gas can often be captured and monetised using low-cost proven solutions.

In doing so, governments can improve health and safety, reduce emissions (of carbon dioxide, methane, and particulates) and add value by driving up revenue, increasing reserves and production, creating jobs and improving the industry’s ‘social license to operate’.

Flare capture also helps countries to deliver on the Paris Agreement and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal #13 while, for example, providing affordable alternatives for heating and cooking.

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region accounts for 40% of the world’s flaring.…  Seguir leyendo »

Algerian volunteers prepare personal protection equipment (PPE) to help combat the coronavirus epidemic in the capital Algiers. Photo by RYAD KRAMDI/AFP via Getty Images.

Although protests successfully ended Abdelaziz Bouteflika’s 20-year sultanistic rule a little over one year ago, demands have been continuing to dismantle the system, get rid of the old personnel, and institute democracy.

The controversial election in December of Abdelmadjid Tebboune — who has inherited a disastrous situation — has not tempered the determination of the Hirak protest movement. As a former minister and prime minister under Bouteflika, the new president has won little legitimacy, and protests have continued.

Now COVID-19 is worsening already dire economic conditions, such as a sharp drop in oil prices. By the beginning of May, statistics showed 10% of confirmed cases have ended in fatality, the highest percentage in the region.…  Seguir leyendo »