Algeria has some of the largest deposits of oil and natural gas world-wide. With such an abundance of hydrocarbons, the country is among the top producers worldwide. The main industry is the extraction and processing of oil and gas products. These make up more than 95% of Algeria’s export revenues and contribute to two-thirds of the country’s spending budget.
Algeria’s estimated 12 billion barrels of oil reserves and tenth-largest reserves of natural gas are of particular interest to foreign oil companies, who have been allowed to invest in Algeria since the 1990s.
High levels of bureaucracy in state-run enterprises prove a frustration for ordinary Algerians. Some also feel left out of the wealth created by the country’s oil and gas money. In 2011, the government announced it would offer 23 billion dollars towards public grants, salary and benefit increases to boost domestic spending.
Unofficial estimates vary, but three-quarters of under 30 year-olds could be without formal work. Such high unemployment and a lack of opportunities lead to periods of social unrest.
Outside the public sector and state-run industries, many Algerians struggle to find work. Unemployment is high, particularly among the young. Many set up their own work in ‘informal’ jobs such as street-traders. As part of its five-year investment plan (2009-2014), the government has stated its aims to create 3 million jobs. Before independence in 1962, the economy was based around agriculture. With the discovery of oil, this sector declined in importance.