By: Asma Al-Hadi
Libya is a country located in the center of North Africa, overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and is bordered by six states, with an area of almost 1.8 million square kilometers, the fourth-largest Arab country and sixteenth internationally.
Its coastline is the longest of any African country bordering the Mediterranean and has the 10th largest proven oil reserves of any country in the world. Known for its moderate climate towards the north and a semi-arid and desert climate down south.
The reader might assume that Libya is a nation consisting of construction and investment projects, has the infrastructure to keep up to speed with modern development. Unfortunately, that is not the case, despite the country’s vast natural resources, such as gas and oil. Libya has over 41.5 billion barrels of oil reserves, which makes over 94% of its annual revenue; this could help any government reconstruct and steadily build a country, especially since Libya contains factories for iron, steel, cement, quarries, bricks, and different construction supplies.
Libya also has water resources and a satisfactory area of fertile land for agricultural and pastoral projects, in addition to other spaces waiting for utilization. We can provide essential food commodities, ranging from barley and wheat to fruits and meat, putting forth a solution for self-sufficiency.
All of these features are accounted for Libya and are beneficial to the people and the nation. If the land is awarded a healthy, sincere, honest, able government, striving to address all the problems plaguing the country today, and creating a climate suitable for “takeoff” through a rational political process towards an enhance educational, social and economic environment.
One of the most important steps is for the government to take advantage of the improved investment laws that have been developed by foreign companies, a very lucrative move for Libya.
Since 2004, the rules have stated that the minimum amount of capital investment projects is fifty million dollars or the equivalent in Libyan Dinars; this would serve the goals of Libya and the Libyan citizen excellently. However, some companies retracted due to the war in 2011, materials and equipment were stolen from project sites, in addition to shells falling on the sites.
Instability and lack of security have made the country less attractive to foreign investors, not forgetting that we have three governments, which government will give companies contracts if they do decide to come back?
Libya a tourist destination
For decades Libya was not to be seen on the list of tourism countries as a result of the siege imposed on it, which in turn affected the nation negatively. Libya was never in the tourism market because it depended wholly on oil. But after lifting the ban, it started racing towards the completion of some minor construction projects, such as hotels, roads, resorts and shopping markets, a more modernized road network and Tripoli International Airport, which receives approximately 20 million travelers a year. Libya has eight airports including domestic ones, various seaports and oil ports; therefore, it is possible for the revenue generated from oil to be invested in a well-planned tourism scheme.
Because many Libyans do not know of their country’s tourism sites due to the lack of marketing, I will list some very briefly:
Libya has the largest Roman cities along the coast, and the largest desert in the south, which attracts safari enthusiasts. Several oases that can be used as spa resorts such as “Qabr Oun Lake”. It has a large nature reserve in the Green Mountain, as well as other tourism destinations.
After this introduction on Libya, where is the government from major development and construction projects?
The answer is simple, before the war Libya tried to follow in the footsteps of its fellow Arab countries regarding investment and development, contracting with large foreign companies, some of which started the process of building. However, everything was halted throughout the revolution, it swept everything away, sites were crushed by bullets and bombs, looted and stolen, sending foreign investors back to their countries. Contracts were canceled as a result of the conditions.
The country’s stability and security will attract investors and allow them to complete their projects, creating a competitive environment that can only be view as a benefit to the country. We do not deny the state’s efforts despite the current conditions, including the completion of some projects, for example ‘the Daewoo Tower’ that costs a 7-9 million loss, as well as continuing the “JW Marriot Hotel in Tripoli” and “Gherian’s Tourist Ship.”
The question to be asked and must be answered immediately is: Are the people fighting for power to build the country? Or are they destroying the country to gain power?
A misleading answer can be found in the Airport War situation; groups were fighting over possession and government office by burning the largest airport in Libya (Tripoli International Airport), a steady source of income for the nation and its employees. Another example is the destruction of the Libya’s largest market complex (Tuesday Market), although eyewitnesses confirmed RPG launchers were used to burn it, it is blamed on a short circuit, in addition to many other vandalism acts as a result of power struggles and conflicts.
After the events of 2011, the state allocated large budgets that could have been utilities in reconstruction and the completion of small, medium and major projects. A transitional period usually means moving forward with the country and not backward.
After six years, we still haven’t seen any improvements or growth. These projects could create over 8000 job opportunities. Based on research, most of the projects stopped as a result of the country’s situation, frequent power cuts, militia takeovers and attacks.
About power cuts, we are neglecting the largest sources of energy we have, solar energy. There is a proposed project named (Libya’s Desert Technology Project), which provides more than a hundred generators covered with thousands of huge panels, enough to provide six times Europe’s need of electricity, contributing to lowering the levels of carbon emissions. While at the same time desalinating desert water and turning into fresh water. Such projects could be monumental to Libya’s economy and construction developments, making sure that power outages are no longer an issue to projects.
Will the upcoming years give birth to Libya that we dreamed of for long, in the light of a state governed by the law under human rights?
Will the riddance of armed groups and the creation of a military working under the banner of the state, pave the way for the completion of stalled projects?
We certainly hope so.
Asma Al-Hadi – A Libyan Writer