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Algeria's new dream factory

In the agricultural region of Relizane, some 250 kilometers southwest of Algiers, the Volkswagen Group has opened a state-of-the-art assembly plant. This is a dream come true for many local workers.

The Volkswagen Group's new assembly factory at Relizane is a colorful world. While barren brown tones dominate outside on the surrounding fields and steppes, the inside is colorful. The employees are dressed in colorful t-shirts: blue for Volkswagen and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, green for ŠKODA, and red for Seat. The bright cheerful colors do not represent just the brands of the Volkswagen Group, whose cars are manufactured here. They also symbolize the joy and spirit with which the employees go to work.

Video: Algeria's new dream factory (English, French)

In the agricultural region of Relizane, some 250 kilometers southwest of Algiers, it will be possible to produce up to 200 vehicles each day of the Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Caddy, SEAT Ibiza, and ŠKODA Octavia models. By the end of the year this figure should be 200 per day. For the young employees, many of whom come from the region, it is a dream come true.

The largest country in Africa (2.38 million square kilometers) is going through difficult times. Agricultural exports of wine, fruit, and olives are declining. Foreign exchange reserves are gradually dwindling as a result of the fall in crude oil prices and government revenues have shrunk from more than $200 billion to $114 billion at the beginning of 2017. The construction industry is foundering. Many young workers and academics are searching for work in vain. At the same time, according to forecasts, the population of currently 41 million Algerians is set to grow to 50 million by 2030.

The new factory, with around 550 employees to start with, is providing new opportunities. In the long term, up to 1800 positions could be created in the plant alone. Further jobs are likely to arise at suppliers and logistics service providers. Volkswagen's partner SOVAC is also making intense efforts to bring German suppliers to Algeria. In anticipation of this, one third of the 150-hectare area set aside for the factory site has been reserved for suppliers and spare parts providers. Brahim Abdelatif, President of the German-Algerian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, is convinced: "The world is looking at Algeria now that the Volkswagen Group is coming to us. This also makes it easier for us as a chamber of commerce to approach large suppliers and to convince them to commit to Algeria."

The Algerian government is specifically focusing on further industrialization of the country, in order to be less dependent on its natural resources in the future. The Algerian Minister of Trade, Ahmed Abdelhafid Saci, hopes that this will result in growth and have positive effects on employment.

In order to ensure a Group-wide quality standard, the Algerian employees working in production, logistics, and quality assurance received on-the-spot training by experts from the Group's brands. Algerian managers also completed a qualification program over several months at the production sites of each brand. As part of a "Train the trainer" program, foremen and managers gained practical qualifications that enabled them to explain standardized courses of action to their employees and to train them in these.

One of them is Nessis Noureddine. As a shift manager, the 27-year-old is responsible for one of the two shifts of all four brands. In order to prepare for the new task, he completed training courses at ŠKODA in the Ukraine, Seat in Spain, and Volkswagen in Wolfsburg.

"Wolfsburg was the most exciting thing for me. It was absolutely amazing to see how a finished car is produced from lots of components. After five weeks of training, I now know myself how to make employees aware of the key issues. This is a dream come true for all of us here. Many of us were simple farmers or workshop mechanics. Now we are building cars of world-famous brands – what a story."

Nessis Noureddine

Fatima Boukerouche is responsible for the first cycle of quality control. The 26-year-old material engineer comes from Mazouna, some 35 kilometers away. "The Volkswagen logo has always left an impression on me. For me it was a dream to be part of the crew in Relizane. But I never expected to get this opportunity." Her parents are very proud, because she was the first of the siblings to study and now works for Volkswagen: "Everyone here knows what that means", says Fatima Boukerouche. With her income, she can also support her parents.

40-year-old Omar Mekki works as a trained mechanic on the production line for the Volkswagen Caddy. The father of five children comes from Relizane. "I always dreamed of going to Germany. But now Germany is coming to us," he says happily. In his previous jobs, he had always been without insurance and was very concerned about the future. Now he has much more security for the family – and adds full of pride: "My 14-year-old son recently told me he would like to work here one day too."  

"I always dreamed of going to Germany. But now Germany is coming to us."

Omar Mekki