Wednesday, April 13, 2011

#TEDxAlger - An Insider’s notepad scratches

Notice: The #TEDxAlger was a 100% French event. Hence, you’re going to come across atypical translated phrases from French to English. Notify me if there’s any anomaly.

The first Algerian TEDxAlger organized by mere students (Our fellow colleagues & friends in ETIC club) took part in the Higher School of Computer Science E.S.I. (ex: I.N.I.). There were different- if not contradictory-opinions about this event. I’ll write a blog entry about each speaker and what did he/she said according to my timeline. I’d also include some subjective critics between parentheses (and they are not just for the sake of criticism: p )
First off, the name: “TEDxAlger”! The TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) we all know and the “x” for independently organized, followed by the name of the city hosting the event, which is here “Alger”. Alger for the non-French speaker is Algiers the capital of Algeria. It was my very first remark since I heard of the event. Why “Alger”? Why not الجزائر (Al Jazair- the Arabic name of “Algiers”-), or “Algiers” the English name to stick to the universality of the event. But, sincerely, I didn’t expect the event to be 100% in French. Come on, I don’t think TEDxBeijing would be in Japanese or TEDxBogota would be in Zulu! I’ll come to this point when I finish u the series.
10:30 -->10:40
Ismail Chaib (iChaib on twitter) the Founder of ETIC club, an E.S.I. alumnus and a student in France, had the opening word, where he introduced Entrepreneurship and Change, and asked the question: “Why not?”. He said that it’s time for us to jump into the caravan to Baghdad of technology now, and It’s a must not a choice.

A video about TED story and how it all started.
The day has been divided into a series of 12 presentations. Each 3 speakers talked about a theme, as follows:
Entreprendre en Algérie
Speaker Mr. Abdelkader Aissaoui
Speaker Mr. Mustapha Ferfera
Speaker M. Hind Benmiloud
Entreprise et Tech
Speaker Mr. Hakim Bensaoula
Speaker M. Fadhila Brahimi
Speaker M. Nesma Houhou
Success Story
Speaker Mr. Hassan Khelifati
Speaker Mr. Merzac Bagtache
Speaker Mr. Akim El Sikameya
Entreprendre pour changer le monde
Speaker Mr. Rabah Ghezali
Speaker Mr. Hadj Khelil
Speaker Mr. Abdelkader

I. Entreprendre en Algérie:
      1. Mr. Abdelkader Aissaoui:
A veterinarian by training, Mr. Aissaoui is the founder and CEO of Renault Trucks Algeria in 2002, the only subsidiary of trucks of a European manufacturer operating in Algeria. An entrepreneur at heart, Mr Aissaoui also has several business’ assets.
10H46 :
- He told us about his son’s birthday and that we should say every 3 minutes “You’re great, papa”, and we did it with enthusiasm :)
- He Introduced the CEA (Création d'Entreprises à l'Algérienne = Creating business the Algerian way ).
He said that there are 3 Actors in this equation:
This trinity is: The Individual, the Environment and the Company.
- A Company is like a train. People see it running, but few of ‘em have the change to get in.
- Studies and money aren’t enough to be a successful entrepreneur. You should have the HUNCH
- It’s hard to start your own business in Algeria due to the bureaucratic issues.
He went through the most important phases of the openness of the Algerian market:
In 1994:
He got his diploma, the very same year when Algeria became opened to importation (I don’t see importation and reselling as something beneficial for a country lacking,dramatically, the knowhow). At that time the market was almost virgin, and everyone has a place.
In 2000:
The government launched the programs : housing & work for everyone. So, no need for great ideas. All what you need is just be “inserted” (I don’t know how to be inserted in such market where the barons and high-profile entrepreneurs are monopolizing the game!!)
In 2005:
Cars’ market boom! No need for philosophy, creativity and bright ideas. Just sell –or resell- cars, there would, for sure, someone who buys. (Always no knowhow involved).
In 2011: Crisis!
-The market in Algeria is still virgin as a mermaid:
· 96% of the Algerian population is living in 10% of the country’s surface.
· One Sole Highway
· One single train!!
There are huge opportunities especially in the domains on civil engineering.
(I keep asking: Sahara got everything to be a second Eldorado or Huston! Gas, Oil, Gold, Water, Uranium, Silicon, etc.!!! why isn’t it so?!)
He finished with both of the Individual and the environment. He passed then to the COMPANY.
- The company undergoes three phases during its lifecycle:
Creation -----> Life -----> Death
· Creation: The Company is like a baby. It falls ill, it cries, it p*sses (The public laughed out loud), etc. the entrepreneur should do whatever it takes to gain experience. He must work 8 days per week (off the record: he said you should create a day between Fridays and Saturday). If you have the chance, the company evolves to phase two. It’s the growth or the company’s Life where it stands on its feet, gain its pace in the economical map, etc.
· Life: once the business is running, it’s no longer 1+1=2. But, it turns into 1+1=3 [You+ the Company+ The dynamic that keeps the development jamming gears spinning ]
· Death: It’s crying, tears , mucus and everything bad :p
- In Algeria: 100% of companies are familial (these statistics don’t seem to me accurate), there is no solid model or pattern to be steered by.
- How to guarantee your company’s life? He left the question unanswered or I simply didn’t hear the answer (I doubt if I couldn’t answer! I was writing down everything from timing to the audience’s applauses).
- He finished with a quote that I wrote only its first phrase :-(
“An ordinary chap who walks ,…”
My impressions:
- The speech was too vague, no detailed information on how REALLY succeed in a blurry (the opposite of transparent) market as the Algerian one, where Barons are taking over the greasy market shares, the rest fight over the crumbles.
- He didn’t introduce himself well (a typical Algerian defect. We tend to talk with others for hours without even telling our names –or basic information- or ask for the others’ name).
- I don’t think ReSelling is something Miraculous in a very rich country like ours. For me if there’s no added value or a knowhow acquired, it’s not real Entrepreneurship. ReSelling is just trabando on large scale (trabando is the parallel market where kids and poor people open up tables of small commerce, like selling cigarettes, shoes, underwear, socks, etc. ).
11H00: The speaker jumped off the stage, we applauded :)
Zaki Hamouli, the Animator, said: “Well Said, Papa!” and we laughed on it Smile
I’m done with the first speaker. I’ll go for the next one to-morrow in shaa Allah.
Peace out,


  1. So you're going to write a series of blog posts about the presentations ! Great :) Looking forward to it.

    Thanks for this summary of what Abdelkader Aissaoui said, as I didn't get the chance to listen to him (due to poor sound quality and low volume).

    Just a note CEA is an acronym for "Création d'Entreprises à l'Algérienne" not "en Algérie" ;) He intentionnaly made this wordplay if we can call it that way :p

    Anyway, great article, keep the good work ;)

  2. Yeah, 'cause I wrote down 33 pages on the notepad they gave us :) I could hear everything (I was a VIP:p)

    You're fully welcome, and your comments enrich the blog. I rectified the phrase (I couldn't understand my own handwriting :p)

    Thanks for going through details :)

  3. Thanks for the summary. Looks like he talked about generalities only. I would've liked to hear more on this CEA, for e.g. how did Renault Trucks succeed to partner with Algerian SNVI, etc.

  4. @vivalalgerie: Yeah. I, myself, wanted to know more about details about success factors besides perseverance and other general qualities.