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Algeria's brass rich Constantine losing its artisans

Algeria's brass rich Constantine losing its artisans

Algeria

Algerian eastern city of Constantine, known for its traditional handicrafts, is now at the edge of losing its own unique brassworkers from the countable small number of young labourers compared to the old.

Constatine region has a rich history of world’s re-known brassware that includes decorative brass trays, jugs and other utensils.

Concerns have been raised over the worrying numbers of young brassworkers joining workshops in this region.

This job is disappearing, our sons don't want to learn it because it is difficult and doesn't bring a lot of money.

“It doesn’t have a big demand either inside the country nor outside, and what we make here stays here. Tourists hardly ever come and buy few things but in general we don’t sell a lot and we can’t say that there is a future for this craft. Young men don’t work on that anymore, only those who learnt it in the past. Many left this job because they don’t earn a lot of money,” Mohssine, a handicraftsman told Reuters.

Copper as a commodity, isn’t always cheap, and it’s difficult for craftsmen here to make a profit from the hours they dedicate to their labour.

“This job is disappearing, our sons don’t want to learn it because it is difficult and doesn’t bring a lot of money and the copper is expensive,” said Tahar, a handicraftsman.

“I buy the kilo of copper with 1000 Algerian dinar (9.1 USD) so how much should I give the coppersmith and how much should I sell the copper tray for example? We want the government to import the copper as before to cut prices,” Kamel told Reuters.

Brassware is not the only part of the Algerian economy that is struggling – the country is taking steps to open up its economy after a sharp fall in energy earnings.

In April the government drafted a new investment law offering incentives to local and foreign businessmen in its non-oil sector.

The reforms have been promised since mid-2014 when oil prices started to fall, slashing state energy revenues by almost half and forcing budget cutbacks.

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