- As the construction sector is on a low in most of the world, an imminent construction boom in Libya is attracting international attention. Housing, businesses and infrastructure worth US$ 52 billion is to be built.
When Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi makes plans, he makes big plans. But now, a number of very big plans are to be realised at the same time, making upcoming investments in constructions totalling the record sum of US$ 52 billion (euro 43 billion).
The Gadaffi regime plans to invest massively in housing and urban development in the capital Tripoli and other Libyan cities. Further, a large tourism development scheme is underway at several sites along the Mediterranean coast. Also businesses are to get their part, with plans to make Tripoli "an international financial hub for the region" by 2012. Bank and office towers are to shoot up in Tripoli.
And of course, all these modernising attempts would not be complete without beefing up Libya's still limited infrastructure. High-speed railways and first-class roads are to run along the coast, connecting Tripoli with both Egypt and Tunisia. Further, road and rail is to cut into the sparsely populated Sahara desert, connecting Libya to Chad and Niger in the south. Telecom and electricity are other infrastructure sectors in quick expansion.
The big plans are not just empty plans. Most, including rail and road construction, have already started, but billion dollar investment schemes are still to be awarded.
In the UK, the construction sector is now opening its eyes towards the great possibilities in Libya as the British market is entering tougher times. In-trade organisations have discovered that "Libya is genuinely looking to the UK for help and support," with UK companies such as AMEC, Mott MacDonald, Mace and Parsons Brinckerhoff already winning work in the North African country.
However, "ambitious plans are sometimes slow to develop because of a lack of experience throughout the supply chain," the UK construction trade organisation SECBE warns potential investors. "Libya can be a challenging business environment - persistence, patience and optimism are the keys to doing business successfully," the organisation adds. SECBE is now organising seminars to assist UK construction companies to get established in Libya.
But not only British investors have eyed the many possibilities in Libya. In Europe, Italians, Greek and Germans are already well established on the southern shore of the Mediterranean. US companies are also among the biggest investors in contemporary Libya.
The remains of the Spanish construction sector, one of the biggest in the world before the current deep crisis, has already sought to compensate for the lost Spanish market in neighbouring Morocco, where a vast tourism infrastructure is being built. Experiences in the Arab country are now proving valuable as new contacts are made in Libya, and Spanish constructers are quick to establish themselves in Tripoli.
But many of the biggest contracts in Libya have already been given to China and Russia. Russian Railways is moving fast ahead with its € 2.2 billion contract to build a 550 kilometre high-speed rail line on the Sirt - Benghazi route. Two even larger rail lines have been awarded the China Railway Construction Corp at an unknown cost.
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