Deep inside Libya's Naufosa Mountains, in the Berber village of Gharyan, one can find a thousand unique troglodyte cave houses. These unusual dwellings are located 120 kilometers from the country's capital, Tripoli. The homes are dug six to seven meters vertically into the mountain, creating rooms circled around a central courtyard housing several families. Residents hope their unique village can attract tourists after the elections...
Would like to see more info about tourism in Libya. It's a beautiful country that, through bureaucracy and isolation, has been ignored by the world for too long.
Considerable progress in the Libyan oil industry boosted its production with new offers and prices.
The Thai Energy Conglomerate has approved a suggestion to pay for Thai labour in Libya withoil instead of cash.
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Welcome to Tin Neighborhood -- the graffiti says it all. Behind the wall lies a trailer home compound, east of the Libyan capital Tripoli. Many residents say the living standards on the compound have made life unbearable. Dozens of families, some of whom have been living in the compound for over 15 years, are demanding the Libyan government help improve their living conditions. "Conditions here are tragic; it is not fit for...
As Khaled looked out over the now quiet, olive-tree covered hills of Zintan, he recalled the fighting and destruction that rocked this area just a few short months ago. Zintan is a town of 40,000 people tucked into the Nafusa Mountains of northwest Libya. Six thousand Zintanis joined the armed opposition to oust dictator Moammar Gadhafi, forming one of the country’s most formidable militias.
For Khaled, who runs the local media center, nursing the economy of his town and his country back to health is among the most critical challenges facing the country’s transitional government.
The focus thus far has been on restoring oil production to pre-war levels. Libya’s oil minister said the country is now producing 1.6 million barrels per day (b/d) of crude oil, just short of the 1.77 million b/d the country was producing before the revolution.
Getting the oil sector up and running should indeed be a primary focus, as hydrocarbons have long dominated the Libyan economy; before the war, oil accounted for over 70 percent of GDP, 95 percent of exports, and nearly 90 percent of government revenue, as estimated by the International Monetary Fund.
Moreover, Libya supplies two percent of global output. That its particular brand of “sweet” crude, exported mainly to Europe but also to Asia and the United States, cannot be easily replaced makes it some of the most sought-after oil on international markets.
But some argue Libya’s economic recovery must go beyond restoring the pre-war status quo.
As Michael L. Ross, Professor of Political Science at UCLA, argues in his book The Oil Curse, countries “blessed” with abundant natural resources - particularly oil - also carry a heavy burden. He notes that an over-dependence on the oil sector correlates with a decline in the competitiveness of non-oil sectors, makes the economy vulnerable to swings in international commodity prices, and fosters nondemocratic governments. Indisputably, seemingly endless oil revenues helped keep Gadhafi in power for 42 years.
Moreover, little oil wealth trickled down to ordinary Libyans.
“One of the largest oil pipelines in Libya passed through here,” said Khaled, pointing to two long, white streaks running down the mountainside near his hometown, signaling the pipelines buried below. “But we didn’t benefit at all.”
The pipeline carries oil from the Awbari oilfield in the south to the al-Zawiya refinery in the north, near Tripoli. Opposition fighters shut it down in June 2011 in order to deprive Gadhafi of resources, a move that rebels say was critical to their victory. For Khaled, it was also an important symbolic act, in which regular people reclaimed a pipeline that quite literally bypassed them, funneling Libya’s most precious natural resource north for the benefit of the ruling elite.
Less hydrocarbons, more olives
Consequently, Libya’s post-conflict growth strategy must include a more equitable distribution of oil wealth, but as the IMF argues, it must also involve a reorientation of the economy away from dependence on hydrocarbons.
Olives have been an important facet of the economy in the Nafusa Mountain area for thousands of years. The Romans, whose ruins dot the landscape of Zintan, produced olive oil here and exported it to Rome. Olives are also a source of pride for Khaled, who showed me ancient olive presses and explained how to determine the age of an olive tree by counting the number of rings in its trunk. “Land isn’t just for making a living off of,” he said. “The land is our past, present, and future. Our grandfathers liberated the land, protected it.”
However, olives were among the agricultural commodities whose production declined with the 1958 discovery of oil, explains a 2006 report by the MEDFROL project, which analyzes the agricultural sectors of Mediterranean countries. Before 1958, agriculture was the country’s main source of revenue, making up about 30 percent of GDP. With the increase of oil production and exports in the 1960s, the size of the agriculture sector declined rapidly, comprising less than 5 percent of total GDP by 2005.
Now, local business owners and farmers are calling for reforms that would re-focus attention on the agricultural sector.
Said, 46, owns an olive press a few minutes from Zintan. He recently returned to work, having shut down his factory during the uprising to join the fight against Gadhafi. Now, he wants to get the modern machinery inaccessible before. Under Gadhafi, Said and other farmers in the region were forced to pick their crop by hand, a difficult and time-consuming process that, Said explains, was part of the regime’s strategy to keep its people economically suppressed. With new machines, he hopes he will be able to produce more olive oil and expand his business.
Mohamed, 78, inherited his olive farm from his great-grandfather. After finishing secondary school, a distinction only few achieved in the days of his youth, he joined Libya’s bloated civil service. After three decades, Mohamed grew tired of the rampant corruption in his office, so he went to work on his family’s olive farm. But no industry was spared from the corrupt arm of Gadhafi’s government, he said. Most of the oil produced from Mohamed’s olives was sold to the government at reduced prices, and little was made available to regular Libyans.
With the ouster of the regime, he is optimistic that corruption will give way to transparency. And if he could set up irrigation systems and import sophisticated machinery, he would be relieved of trucking in water and harvesting the olives manually.
Getting former fighters back to work
An over-dependence on oil has also contributed to the problem of structural unemployment, a critical factor leading to the uprising against Gadhafi’s oppressive regime. As a capital-intensive industry, the oil sector provides limited jobs. And because oil revenues sustained the government, Gadhafi dedicated few resources to developing human capital.
“Gadhafi wanted us to be so preoccupied with looking for food, a house, a car, that we could not think about other things like higher education,” said Khaled. Before the revolution, he made just 175 Libyan dinar a month, around 140 USD. “A suit costs 120 dinar,” he said. “So the first month of work, you buy a suit. The second month, shoes. After 20 years, you can buy a car.”
Libya’s unemployment problem persists. “Libya has a young population - close to 50 percent are below 25 years of age - with a large influx of entrants to the labor market expected in the next decade,” notes the IMF. Diversification of the economy can serve as a means to create employment opportunities for the country’s youth.
Although many Zintanis have laid down their weapons, the boys and men who fought are now looking to re-integrate into normal life, and they need jobs. But first, Libyan youth will have to be trained in new skill sets to meet the demand of companies that will begin to invest in the economy. “To meet the demand, it will be important to establish training programs for workers and job seekers, and to reform the education system to reflect new needs, such as language and computer skills,” urged the IMF’s August 2012 report Libya Beyond the Revolution: Challenges and Opportunities.
Re-focusing the Libyan economy on non-hydrocarbon sectors is not just about making the economy more stable or equitable. As Khaled indicates, it is also about reawakening the imagination of many Libyans who had been oppressed for decades under Gadhafi.
Zintan’s olive oil industry represents just one facet of the unprecedented economic opportunities available in the post-Gadhafi era. Khaled is floating many other ideas to build up the local tourism and trade industries, both of which, says the IMF, hold many opportunities because of the country’s “rich archeological sites, Mediterranean climate, and proximity to major European markets.”
Khaled imagines building a hotel and a restaurant to cater to tourists that would come to see the Nafusa Mountain’s historical treasures, including its Roman ruins.
The economic challenge ahead is great, and is complicated by the fact that Libya does not yet have a permanent government to carry out long-term policies. In June, the country will elect members to a national assembly tasked with drafting the constitution. Once the constitution passes a referendum, parliamentary and presidential elections will follow - a process likely to take around two years. All of this, amid persistent fears over basic security in a country saturated with weapons.
Regardless of what business ventures Khaled undertakes, for him the economic changes ahead are about achieving something more basic, something that was not possible under the Gadhafi regime: “We want jobs, salaries, to get married, to have babies. We want a normal life. A human life."
[Voice of America]
Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) officials stated that they are pursuing a plan to expand activity in Libya
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An Air Malta technical team is making a final review of fuel bunkering facilities in Libya with a view to buying fuel from its North African neighbour, which on average sells fuel cheaper than European airports.
But the airline’s management also intends to look at the rest of Africa, not just Libya, for strategic expansion after steadying the company through the restructuring. “I think we have to look at other parts of Africa to see what opportunities there are, so I am looking south and east in terms of our strategic direction. “But the first thing to do... let’s get the airline fixed, let’s break even and, obviously, the Benghazi route is an important part of that development,” Mr Davies said. The service to Benghazi comes after flights to the Libyan capital Tripoli were upgraded earlier this month to daily from three times a week. The move represents another step towards consolidating the airline’s position in Libya after the revolution and also a likely boost in revenue. Most passengers to and from Libya tend to be business people travelling club class. In the past six months, the airline carried just shy of 22,000 passengers on the Tripoli route and is projecting to carry another 30,000 over the summer, on top of another 8,000 it is planning to handle on the Benghazi route. Mr Davies stressed that the Malta connection offered Libyans a gateway to Europe and flights were timed to facilitate such connections. The flights, on Tuesdays and Thursdays, leave Malta at 4. 40 a.m., arrive at 6.05 a.m., leave Benghazi at 7.05 a.m. and arrive in Malta at 8.25 a.m. But there are challenges to increased business. Benghazi airport director Jamal Agili pointed out that he would like to see visas processed quicker. In fact, the Maltese consulate in Benghazi is flooded, issuing about 500 visas a week, as it is practically the only European representation issuing Schengen visas. The next best alternative, Turkish airlines, offers the advantage of visa-free travel to Turkey but Libyan nationals would still need to obtain a Schengen visa to be able to travel to Europe.
[Source: Times of Malta]
(Reuters) - BP (BP.L) is to resume exploration activities in Libya that it suspended because of last year's uprising, re-starting a relationship which under ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi landed the firm in the centre of a political storm.
BP closed down operations in Libya and withdrew its expatriate workers in February last year, days after protests broke out in eastern Libya which with help from NATO warplanes and missiles eventually forced Gaddafi from power.
The oil firm follows other majors, including Eni (ENI.MI) and Total (TOTF.PA) in restarting Libya operations, despite lingering worries about security and the possibility the new authorities will try to re-negotiate contracts signed under Gaddafi.
The head of Libya's National Oil Corporation, Nuri Berruien, and Michael Daly, BP's executive president for exploration, agreed in Tripoli on Tuesday to lift force majeure, the legal mechanism under which BP suspended its operations last year.
The agreement was a "significant milestone in BP's plans to return to the exploration of onshore and offshore blocks," Daly said in a statement.
BP's then chief executive Tony Hayward travelled to Tripoli in 2007 to sign a $900 million contract giving the company the right to explore onshore and offshore fields in Libya, home of Africa's largest proven crude reserves.
But the deal quickly became entwined in a furious political row about Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the Libyan convicted of the 1988 bombing of a U.S. airliner over the Scottish town of Lockerbie.
Megrahi died in Tripoli earlier this month, three years after Scottish authorities released him on the grounds he was terminally ill and did not have long to live. He had returned to a hero's welcome in Tripoli.
Megrahi's release caused a storm of anger in the United States, where many of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing were from. The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee launched an inquiry into whether there was any connection between Megrahi's release and BP winning the exploration deal in Libya.
The company and the British government have always denied any connection between the two, although BP did say it lobbied for Megrahi's transfer to Libya.
SECURITY SITUATION 'MANAGEABLE'
Libya now is preparing for its first ever democratic elections, but the new government is weak and struggling to keep in check armed volunteer militias.
A BP spokesman said security was going to be "the determining factor on how quickly we move."
"At the moment we feel security and safety is sufficiently manageable."
It was likely to be months before BP had everything in place to re-start its exploration work, the spokesman said.
"The first thing we need to do is re-establish the contracts for drilling and logistics," he said.
"We need to get contractors back in for the onshore and offshore drilling .. Then it's back to work as soon as possible."
Shell said its decision to pull out of its Libyan contracts did not show any lack of faith in the oil sector, and said it would keep an office open in Libya to look into new deals.
In a statement, the company said it would abandon drilled wells and stop exploration on its two Libyan licenses. It said its departure had nothing to do with security issues and was taken on a purely commercial basis.
"Despite an extensive seismic and drilling campaign in these licenses, results have been disappointing and further exploration cannot be economically justified," a Shell spokesman said. "We have agreed to actively pursue new upstream business opportunities."
Asked about Shell's decision, NOC chief Berruien told Reuters by telephone: "All I can say right now is that Shell is not withdrawing from Libya. They are staying."
(Additional reporting by Tom Bergin and Jessica Donati in London and Ali Shuaib in Tripoli; editing by Jason Neely)
The Minister of Planning Eissa al-Twayger affirmed that the Libyan state is capable of launching real development and sustaining it.
Resolution to approve partial repayment of a €13.2 million loan taken out by the company to meet creditor payments during the civil war in Libya in 2011
According to the MIH bonds prospectus, up to €31 million of the bond proceeds were to be utilised to fund the company’s investment in Tripoli’s Medina Tower Project through its 25-percent equity interest in the joint venture company. “Since the projected timelines for the Medina Tower project were revised due to the outbreak of hostilities, the board of directors estimates that part of the company’s equity contribution in that project will not be required before mid-2014. “In view of these revised timelines, the board is proposing that €8 million of the bond proceeds be applied in partial reduction of a loan the company entered into in 2011, to meet the payment of capital creditors during the period of civil war in Libya.” The Medina Tower Project is a mixed-use development in the centre of Tripoli comprising residential and office space together with retail areas within a 200,000 square metres of built up area over 40 floors and an additional four underground floors for car parking. The MIH board said that following the issue of the bonds in July 2010, the company faced a severely challenging period as a result of the war in Libya between February and September 2011. “The dramatic events that unfolded over that period and the consequent uncertainty led the company to re-consider its priorities, adopting a defensive strategy of protecting its assets in Libya from the risks and perils of war.” The environment in Libya during the protracted civil strife required the company to protect, as far as was practicably possible in a time of war, the company’s investment and assets in Libya. The development of the Medina Tower project was suspended pending the cessation of hostilities, while MIH shifted its focus on the significant impact that the events in Libya inevitably had on the ongoing business and operations at Palm City Residences, a project that constitutes the sole revenue generator for the company. “With the outbreak of the civil war, operations at Palm City Residences were significantly reduced with tenants evacuating the country and terminating their lease agreements. This has resulted in the financial year 2011 being an acutely difficult and challenging year for the company. Its cash flow was severely strained and to meet its on-going contractual obligations the company had no alternative but to raise a loan totalling €13.2 million,” MIH said. Over the last few months, the sense of stability in Libya has allowed MIH to resume marketing of the units and restart operations at Palm City Residences. Occupancy levels in March 2012 reached 75 percent, levels that are estimated to reach 90 percentby July 2012. [source Malta Today]
Libya's LAP Green Networks has taken back full control of Uganda Telecom following the lifting of United Nations sanctions on all Libyan-owned businesses across Africa early this month.
The UK and Libya will work together to develop a modern and reliable communications infrastructure in Libya, spreading the practice of open government.
The Government of the United Kingdom
(hereinafter referred to collectively as the “Participants”),
Desiring to cooperate in support of the E-Libya initiative’s goals of improving quality of life in Libya through technology; and catalyzing the development of a Libyan knowledge economy.
Desiring, therefore, to cooperate and benefit from the warm and friendly relations between both governments, to leverage the extensive knowledge of the UK government in the following areas: 1- Information and Communication Technology (ICT) strategy 2- Establishing a regulatory framework 3- Physical ICT infrastructure 4- Value-added ICT applications, including Open Government, e-Government, e-Commerce and e-Learning
Sharing a common goal of promoting open government and transparency in Libya, and recognizing the role E-Libya will play in the advancement of that goal, so that Libya may in future join the Open Government Partnership;
Intend as follows:
1. This Memorandum of Intentions is not legally binding and does not constitute an obligation of funds.
2. The Participants, based on the experience, technical expertise and best practices in the implementation of cooperation for the E-Libya Initiative, intend to conduct joint activities of technical cooperation, with a view to:
a. Identifying opportunities on mutually decided terms of enhanced investment opportunities in the country, responsive government activities, increased access to technology; and b. Strengthening the infrastructure and technological innovation systems of Libya, by means of coordinated use of personal, technological and human resources.
3. Activities to be carried out may include:
a. Sending technical experts from the United Kingdom, and other governments and international private sector organizations to develop proposals, provide technical and strategic guidance, training, and education, as well as monitor projects and evaluate results;
b. Assisting in improving physical infrastructure capabilities, promoting affordable access to the internet, designing a formation of policies to govern the emerging telecommunications market; and
c. Other forms of cooperation mutually determined among the Participants.
4. The Participants intend to assign the planning and direction of the E-Libya initiative arising from this Memorandum of Intentions to the Libyan Ministry of Information and Communication Technology.
5. The Participants intend to cooperate towards giving appropriate publicity to the cooperation provided.
This Memorandum of Intentions is to be effective as of the date of its signature.
Signed at Lancaster House, London on 24 May 2012 in two original copies, in the English and Arabic languages."
Libya's defence minister says he wants to create a new national army of 100,000 soldiers. The force will include members of the old army, as well as former fighters who helped overthrow Muammar Gaddafi. Al Jazeera's Omar al-Saleh reports from the Libyan town of Az-Zawiya.
On Friday the 25th of May, Chatham House, the independent think tank on international affairs received Dr. Abdurrahim El-Keib, Libya's interim prime minister for an hour long conference on Re-establishing the state of Libya, its challenges, issues and amazing accomplishments.
Dr El Keib's conveyed a message of enthusiasm and commitment to rebuilding the state of Libya, both economically and politically, highlighting the government's priority to ensure security and stability and to hold the elections for the General National Council next June in a free and transparent manner. Some of the measures taken by his government to achieve these goals are the disarmament of local militias and their integration in state...
On Friday the 25th of May, Chatham House, the independent think tank on international affairs received Dr. Abdurrahim El-Keib, Libya's interim prime minister for an hour long conference on Re-establishing the state of Libya, its challenges, issues and amazing accomplishments. LibyaBusiness TV was present at the event.
I compliment Dr Keib in realizing and recognizing the top priorities lies in reforming education. I urge Libyan Ministry of Higher Education to identify much needed reforms and implement best practices for brain gain and stop the brain drain by respecting human rights without any loss of further time. Prof Dr Bindra
African Airlines has declared that it has resumed its flights to Tripoli and Benghazi
African Airlines has declared that it has resumed its flights to Tripoli and Benghazi
LONDON, May 24 (UPI) -- The British government said it signed a memorandum of intent with Libya to share the goal of ensuring an open and transparent government in Tripoli.
The Prime Minister of Libya, Abdurrahim El-Keib, addresses members of Chatham House on 25 May 2012.
The head of the United Nations agency tasked with safeguarding the world's cultural heritage today called for the protection of Libya's Old City of Ghadamès, voicing concern over reports that the town has been the target of rocket attacks.
The Old City of Ghadamès is situated in north-western Libya and was inscribed in the World Heritage List in 1986. Often referred to as 'the pearl of the desert,' Ghadamès features a style of domestic architecture which makes it a unique site among a series of pre-Saharan cities and settlements along the northern edge of the desert from Libya to Mauritania.
Clashes between rival groups have been among the challenges facing Libya since the toppling of the regime of Muammar Al-Qadhafi last year and the establishment of the interim authorities.
"During the past year, Libyans have shown their unfailing commitment to the protection of their cultural heritage, demonstrating that such heritage cannot be held hostage to local or international dissent and conflict," Ms. Bokova said. "Heritage is a foundation of social cohesion and as such should remain a vector for dialogue and mutual understanding," she added.
During last year's conflict in Libya, UNESCO repeatedly informed all parties of their responsibility to protect the country's cultural heritage. The agency has resumed its cooperation with the Libyan authorities and has indicated it remains ready to assist them to effectively protect and conserve the country's heritage as it recovers from conflict. UNESCO's World Heritage List includes 936 properties forming part of the cultural and natural heritage considered to have outstanding universal value. [Source: All Africa – UNESCO]