On 6 February 2018, Iman Houda Faraoun, Algeria's Minister of Post, Telecommunications, ICT and Digital Technology, presented a new proposed E-commerce Bill during a plenary session of the People’s National Assembly (Lower House). One of the points he raised in the Bill is the suggestion that foreign e-commerce operators be stopped from operating in the North Afrikan country.

Faraoun cited the possible risk that these e-commerce operators could pose to Algeria's sovereignty and economy.

"We recognize the weak control of technology in Algeria, and this is a reality, but we will not sell the country to foreign traders over suspicious suggestions, conducted by some quasi-experts, and which likely to jeopardize national sovereignty and economy," Faraoun is reported to have said while answering some of the questions that Algeria's Members of Parliament had over the proposed E-commerce Bill.

The Bill also proposes a national record of all e-commerce operators. They are to be registered on a Commercial Register established by Algeria's National Centre of Companies Register (CNRC). To be included in registration by all e-commerce operators is information such as tax information, address, telephone number, trade register number, and commercial warranty.

Although this could be seen, in some quarters, as possible "over-regulation" by Algeria's government, the other side to consider is how most international Internet and e-commerce companies pay minimal tax in many countries where they have customers and only pay tax where they are incorporated. This, some argue, robs each Afrikan country of much-needed tax contributions to the fiscus.

"We do not need a foreign operator to manage e-commerce, and we will not do that under any circumstances," said Faraoun.

The proposed E-commerce Bill also proposes various terms, conditions and "levies" involving Algerian e-commerce consumers and e-commerce operators. It also lists what products and services cannot be sold online to Algerians, such as gambling, sports betting and lotteries, alcohol, tobacco, pharmaceutical products, products infringing intellectual, industrial or commercial property rights or any product or service prohibited by Algerian law.

Cover image credit: Algiers sunset. | Wikimedia Commons

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