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By Fidel Amakye Owusu

1. Algeria is currently the fourth largest economy on the African continent. Its economy is largely propelled by oil and gas export and the industry built around the sector.

2. By land size, Algeria is number one in Africa and tenth in the world. While most of the central and southern regions are deserts, the vastness of the country gives it wider geopolitical reach and importance.

3. It links the western parts of the Sahel region of Africa to the Mediterranean and southern Europe. It also links the upper Atlantic coast of north-west West Africa to Libya and the greater Middle East.

4. On security, Algeria has one of the well equipped and modernised militaries in the continent. It is the largest Russian arms buyer.

5. These, in addition to having the largest population in North Africa after Egypt, place Algeria in a good position to lead Africa together with other bigger economies.

6. What has been the story of Algerian leadership?

7. Extremely few countries in Africa had gone through what Algeria experienced in the struggle for its independence. It was a bloody and bitter experience.

8. France, the colonial power that controlled the territory, had seen it as an extension of its European territory. Located just across the Mediterranean, this position looked convenient to the French.

9. A robust agriculture industry was created by the colonial power in northern Algeria-lush Mediterranean vegetation made it possible.

10. Consequently, when the people decided to pursue self-rule, France had considered it a national security threat. The acrimony that followed did not only pit the colony against Paris, but also divided French elites.

11. It was as a result of the Algerian War of Independence that brought Charles de Gaulle back to front line politics in the early 1950s. The war nearly resulted in a 20th century coup in France.

12. During the war, Algeria had received support from some already independent states in Africa. Ghana was one of these.

13. In 1962, Algeria attained self-rule and under its independence leader, Ahmed Ben Bella, had committed itself to African unity.

14. Ben Bella supported Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and other leaders in pursuit of a continental union. He supported a political, economic and military union of Africa.

15. After his removal from power through a coup, Algeria’s leadership role in Africa was largely curtailed. The country had become more domestic-oriented and a security state. The Algerian civil war that lasted for over a decade from 1991, further concentrated Algiers’ attention to its national security needs.

16. Times have changed. It’s about time Algeria used its powerful stature to help lead Africa Africa’s Renaissance.

17. Its experience with fighting extremism will be particularly beneficial.

By Fidel Amakye Owusu – International Relations and Security Analyst and Writer

Article Reproduced with Permission from Fidel Amakye Owusu

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