The Riyadh-based institution has agreed to cover 100 per cent of the costs of a social housing unit in the Constantine region. The Saudi Arabian Finance & National Economy Minister Ibrahim al-Assaf met his local counterpart Mourad Medelci in Algiers on 23 October to sign the SR 94 million ($25 million) loan accord for the project. The 20-year loan carries an interest rate of 3 per cent a year with a 5 year grace period. The two ministers met on the sidelines of the 26th annual meeting of the board of the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) held in Algiers on 23-24 October.

The Algerian government is gearing up to invite bids from local, regional and international contractors for the construction of some 35,000 houses country-wide. The project will be carried out on a build-own-lease basis.

Algeria suffers from a serious housing shortage, particularly in the capital and in the predominantly Berber northeast region of the country. Perceived ethnic discrimination in the allocation of housing was one of the factors fuelling several months of Berber unrest earlier this year (MEED 29:6:01).