Algeria, the North African country that sits at the crossroads of Africa, Europe, and the Middle East, wants to become one of the biggest players in Africa’s tech ecosystem. And its government is backing this big ambition. Through its ministry of knowledge economy, startups, and micro-enterprises, Algeria isn’t only hosting arguably the biggest government-backed startup event on the continent—the African Startup Conference—, but also implementing a strategic playbook to drive its local tech ecosystem and foster collaboration across Africa.

In a chat with Tomiwa Aladekomo, CEO of Big Cabal Media, on the sidelines of the three-day conference, Yacine El-Mahdi Oualid, Algeria’s minister of knowledge economy, startups, and micro-enterprises, disclosed that the country has a goal to build a strong and interconnected startup ecosystem across Africa. That explains why government delegations from several African countries—notably Nigeria, South Africa, Egypt, and Tunisia—were in attendance at the event, the minister shared. 

“I believe that if we want to succeed, we have to work together. Some issues can best be addressed on a continental level and everyone should make enough efforts,” he said.

Oualid shared that the growth of Algeria’s tech ecosystem is largely driven by government support, citing the creation of a dedicated ministry for startups which has worked on putting in place legal frameworks to support startups. The Algerian government has also given incentives for startups including tax exemptions—startups in Algeria are exempted from tax for the first five years after their formation.

There is also the Algerian Startup Fund, which the minister describes as “one of the largest state-backed funds ever created in Africa.” While acknowledging that some foreign capital has flowed into the Algerian tech ecosystem, the minister noted that the government’s goal is for Algerian startups to be able to raise money locally. The thinking is anchored on the belief that there is a huge potential for funding investments in the African market and government intervention is needed to unlock it.

“The African startup ecosystem hasn’t reached its full potential. There are still lots of things to do at the policymaking level and the incentives government can offer startups. We have to move from a resource-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. We can do this by investing more in startups, innovation, and research and development,” the minister shared.

Click here to watch the full interview.

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