By Adam Nathan.
Libya has seen “real progress” in the fight against terrorism as well as on key economic fronts, Tobias Ellwood MP, UK Minister for the Middle East and Africa, told a major investment event in London.
Ellwood, who opened the Libya Reconstruction & Investment Forum at Lancaster House, highlighted three areas of progress:
- the fight against Daesh in Sirte;
- the first quarter budget of 2017, released to the Government of National Accord (GNA) in January; and,
- the increase in oil production to its highest level since 2014.
“These are all vital steps on the way to re-building Libya’s economy,” said Ellwood. “A healthy economy is the foundation for stability and security and the key to unlocking the country’s immense potential. That’s why supporting Libya’s economic recovery is a priority for the UK Government. And there are real opportunities for British business as well.”
The event at Lancaster House, co-hosted by the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the Middle East Association, The Libyan British Business Council (LBBC) and the Developing Markets Associates (DMA), was attended by more than 200 people including senior Libyan politicians and businessmen.
Ellwood set the tone for the proceedings by saying that after nearly half a century under General Gaddafi and six years of bloody civil war, it was “time for Libya to look ahead to the future”.
“Because for Libya to realise its huge potential, it requires urgent investment in reconstruction and development and that is why this conference is so important,” said Ellwood. “Electricity, water and healthcare are all particularly critical areas. Others I could mention are education, technology, infrastructure, oil and gas, financial services and civil security.”
Ellwood was positive that British business was in the driving seat for Libyan contracts. “My message today is – consider investing in Libya: the returns could be significant. The business environment may still be challenging, but progress is being made, the potential is immense and the UK Government will support you where we can.”
However, despite indicating “real progress” had been made he injected a note of caution. “There is no getting away from the fact that Libya still faces considerable economic and security challenges. Nor is there any doubt that creating a secure and stable political environment must be the first step towards economic recovery. We are not there yet, but there has been real progress.”
Adam Nathan can be contacted at [email protected] and +44 7900 783662.
(Picture: Developing Markets Associates)