Despite an economic downturn and the freezing of Libyan state funds since 2011, investors in the country are attempting to find new avenues of opportunity across Africa by building bridges with other countries.
A conference was held in Libya focusing on economic relations between Libya and the rest of Africa. The conference brought together Libyan investors and distinguished individuals from the political and economic spheres from all over the continent.
Aside from neighbouring Egypt, Libya’s main export partners are non-African countries, namely Mediterranean partners including Italy, France and Spain. Libya investors are thus keen on tapping into the potential to create stronger economic ties with African partners. This has led to the establishment of the Libyan-African Organization for Friendship and Cooperation in Tripoli.
“We have a view in line with economic changes, especially since there are large industrial countries which have shown a great interest in Africa”, said Muhammad Kareem, a Libyan investor.
One positive step made in this regard is the establishment of a bank (Yaqeen Bank) in the south of Libya in order to bridge ties with the rest of Africa.
“We will head to Egypt and Libya and open branches in important African countries so that there will be an opportunity for Libyan investors”, mentioned the head of the Yaqeen Bank.
The ambassador of Congo to Libya, Umbibo Anbunku Jil, was also present at the conference and noted that the Libyan interest in investment is already being felt:
“We have received many Libyan investors wishing to invest in the Congo. We offer them all the facilities so they can invest in our country”.
The fall of Muammar al-Ghaddafi in 2011 represented new challenges to the running of the Libyan economy, aside from the more urgent political and military challenges that arose. Libya was largely a command economy with a high rate of government intervention. The economy was, and still, is, largely reliant on oil exports, which at one point constituted 95% of all exports from Libya, 75% of total revenue, but the sector only employed 10% of the labour force. Oil exports are still a controversial issue due to the lack of political unity in the country.
Libya investors are seeking to change the economic sphere and work towards diversification as they strengthen economic ties with other states in Africa.