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Algeria's Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation have begun a joint project to enhance research capacity in Algeria.

The agreement came into force last week (15 September), Arezki Saidani, director of cooperation and exchanges for the Algerian ministry, told SciDev.Net.

Saidani said the Spanish International Cooperation Agency had allocated an initial €80,000 (US$112,725) for the project, which has started with a call from the higher education ministries of both Algeria and Spain for researchers in their universities to submit their project proposals.

The project is the result of a memorandum signed between Algeria and Spain in April 2005.

Saidani said the cooperation will "open new horizons for Algerian researchers" and be a rich experience for Algerian universities that tend to lack such initiatives.

The bilateral project, 'New Means for Algerians Researchers', will involve all universities and scientific research centres of both countries in sectors such as health, environment, earth sciences, marine science, agricultural science, sustainable development, social sciences, water resources and translation.

It also aims to establish stable scientific cooperation networks between the two countries by holding workshops, conferences and scientific seminars in both Algeria and Spain.

The project is part of a larger initiative to promote research cooperation between Spain and several other Mediterranean countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia. 

The Algerian project will improve cooperation between Algeria and Spain, with particular attention to Algeria's scientific and technological policy.

Suitable research projects will be chosen by a joint scientific committee composed of Spanish and Algerian scientists, who will receive around US$8,000—16,000 of initial funding. 

Saidani added that the committee will meet every three months, with the next meeting due in November to choose the first round of suitable projects.