Algeria: ISPs express scepticism at Government’s target of three million users by 2010
Algerian ISPs do not believe the Government’s target of 3 million Internet users by 2010. According to a one of those attending a meeting of ISPs at the El Moudjahid press centre:”This figure will be very difficult to reach unless a strategy based on developing local content is put in place.”
Influential members of the Algerian ISP Association, its head Younes Grar of Gecos and Morsli Ali of Icosnet think it’s time to develop such a strategy:”If we want to catch up, then we have a responsibility for transferring information, as a development tool, if we are to become an information society.”
Another ISP from Alger said:”It needs to be easier to buy a PC and also to connect to the Internet. But what concerns me most about this vision of national content is that you can’t do it without web sites.” He pointed out that at present Internet users were unlikely to find content that was relevant to the socio-economic life of the country and were therefore likely to turn to Google and seek that content elsewhere:”Local content is far too weak to encourage anything like 3 million Internet users.”
On the Ousratic project, a Government operation to encourage Algerians to buy PCs he said that after two years of favourable credit sales that there had only been 200,000 PCs sold:”This figure demonstrates the weak trend of uptake from this initiative because of the lack of national content.” He said it was possible to encourage a local content sector but that it required political will.
However the D-G of Djaweb disagreed. He said:”Broadband will increase Internet use in the coming days.” He believed that it would be possible to achieve 2.1 million users and pointed out that there were 6 million users in neighbouring Morocco. He said it was necessary to increase the nmuber of “value-added” services.