Economy of Northern Africa


Algeria, Africa’s largest country on the surface, was liberated in 1962 after a long war of liberation against France. According to COUNTRYAAH, the country is economically well developed by African standards. There are two central trade unions affiliated to the World Trade Union Confederation, the International Trade Union Confederation, ITUC.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic

Surface: 2 381 741 km²

Capital: Algiers

Language: Arabic, French

Labor market and economy:

Oil and natural gas dominate Algeria’s economy. The government is trying to stimulate foreign investment and has also carried out extensive privatization of state-owned enterprises, but a large part of economic activity is still under state control. However, falling oil prices and internal unrest have led to new economic problems.

Unemployment is high and many Algerians are therefore looking abroad for their livelihood. Among young people, unemployment is close to 25 percent. The informal sector is large and those who work there often have a very poor working environment and no security at all. Of those who have formal employment, most work in industry and the service sector, but also in agriculture.


The political situation in Egypt has been turbulent since the Arab Spring of 2011. After the military took power in 2013, repression has increased again. Trade union rights have been severely curtailed, but free trade unions have developed rapidly. The economic crisis has hit Egypt hard.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 1 002 000 km²

Capital: Cairo,

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

The industry is outdated. The main income for the country comes from tourism, the Suez Canal, oil and gas. The tourism industry has had major problems due to the troubled situation. Egypt has received a $ 12 billion development loan through the International Monetary Fund, the IMF on condition that it makes savings, cuts subsidies and lets the currency flow. The Gulf states are also investing heavily in Egypt and the economic situation has eased somewhat after the crisis in connection with the 2013 military coup.

About one in four jobs today is in the public sector. The agricultural sector employs just over a quarter of the workforce. Unemployment is very high, especially among women, young people and academics.


Libya became an independent kingdom in 1951. In 1969, Moammar Gadhafi took power. The economy developed rapidly thanks to large oil revenues, but the regime became increasingly despotic and Gaddafi was killed in the 2011 revolution. The situation in the country is chaotic. However, there is some trade union activity.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 1 759 540 km²

Capital: Tripoli

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

The oil boom of the 1960’s brought economic reforms. The proceeds were used for a rapid expansion of the country’s infrastructure, but also education and health care. Until the revolution and the civil war in 2011, the economic standard was among the highest in Africa and many African migrant workers were in Libya. The civil war, the political chaos that prevails and the struggle for control of oil have also led to economic chaos, but the central bank has continued to pay wages to the large proportion of the state-employed workforce. Unemployment is estimated at 15 per cent among adult workers, just over 40 per cent among young people.


Morocco became independent in 1956. The country is a monarchy where the king has some power. Since 1975, Western Sahara has been occupied by Morocco. Agriculture is the main industry. The economy has been liberalized and privatized. There are several central trade union organizations. In practice, trade union freedoms and rights have poor protection.


Country Facts

State condition: Monarchy

Surface: 458 0730 km²

Capital: Discount

Language: Arabic

Labor market and economy:

Agriculture, fishing and tourism are the most important industries. Morocco’s industrial base is highly concentrated in Casablanca, where there is also a strong trade union tradition.

Unemployment is a big problem and many young people and well-educated people apply abroad to be able to support themselves.


Sudan is one of Africa’s largest countries to the surface. In 2019, the Islamist dictatorship was overthrown in a popular revolt. The country is extremely fertile, but the constant civil strife has prevented all development. Only one state-controlled trade union exists and normal trade union activity is not possible.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, federal state

Surface: 1 861 484 km²

Capital: Khartoum

Language: Official Arabic language, English in southern Sudan and about 400 African languages

Labor market and economy:

In April 2019, President al-Bashir was deposed in a military coup as a result of a popular uprising. Protests against the new regime have continued and in August a transitional government was formed to prepare for civilian rule. The work may take a maximum of 39 months.

Sudan’s economy has many problems to contend with; civil war, conflict with neighboring countries and the uncertain political situation, the forces of the weather where drought has hit agriculture hard for several years, huge foreign debt and a counterproductive economic policy. In recent years, the regime has made certain concessions to the requirements of the World Bank and the IMF and, among other things, initiated privatizations and cooperation with international oil companies.

When South Sudan became independent, Sudan lost about 75 percent of its oil revenues and the economic crisis deepened.

80 percent of the population works in agriculture. Unemployment is high, especially among young people in big cities.


Tunisia is one of the most economically developed countries in Africa. UGTT, the only central trade union organization, has a strong position in society and was a driving force in the popular revolt that began the “Arab Spring” in 2011.


Country Facts

State condition: Republic, unitary state

Surface: 164 150 km²

Capital: Tunis,

Language: Arabic, French

Labor market and economy:

Tunisia’s economy is relatively diversified with a significant agricultural sector, mining industry, oil and energy sector, tourism and manufacturing industry. The EU is Tunisia’s most important trading partner. About 200,000 Tunisians work in France. The external debt is large and unemployment is high. The economic crisis and the many terrorist crimes have hit Tunisia hard, especially the tourism industry.

Arbetsskr evening is generally educated and almost everyone can read and write. However, there is a shortage of professionally trained technicians, while there is a surplus of trained medics and pharmacists.

The high unemployment that has long been around 15 percent and where many also have only temporary, precarious jobs, especially in the tourism industry, is a major problem for the country. The informal sector, where job security is often completely lacking, has grown rapidly in recent years. In Tunisia, however, there is legislation regulating working hours, holidays and minimum wages.