Libya is in negotiations to reactivate engineering contracts signed by the government of its former dictator Muammar Gaddafi, it emerged last week.
Libya’s housing and utilities minister Ali Hussein Al Sharif told NCE that his country’s government was in the process of re-evaluating the contracts.
“We are in negotiations with many companies at the moment,” said Al Sharif.
“We will draft a roadmap for them to return.”
According to Al Sharif, many of the contracts were signed back in 2007/8, before the revolution which deposed Gaddafi in 2011.
They will consequently require time cost and scope “recalibration”.
“The cost of the contracts will be rebalanced, or they will go up,” said Al Sharif. “It’s very unlikely they will go down.”
Al Sharif last week visited the UK with Libyan housing and infrastructure board (HIB) chairman Mahamud Ajaj and other Libyan government figures, to encourage UK firms to invest in Libya.
“We will be investing 22bn Libyan Dinar (£11.2bn) in infrastructure projects following recalibration of the old contracts,” said Al Sharif. “There will also be additional scope for work above this amount.
The delegation was hosted by UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), which is planning a trade mission to Libya later this year.
“Libya is a major ‘high value’ opportunity market for UK companies,” said a UKTI spokesman.
“The most crucial projects in the eyes of HIB are sewage treatment plants. We need solutions to complete them in limited time with efficiencies and low operational costs,” said Al Sharif.
The Foreign Office has a travel warning in place urging British citizens not to visit Libya. But UKTI and Al Sharif sought to assure British firms that the country was open for business.
“British businesses are pursuing and doing business in Libya in a wide range of sectors,” said the spokesman.
“Most security issues are unrelated to foreign entities and will not affect foreign companies,” said Al Sharif.
“The Libyan people recognise the needs that these companies fulfill and are eager for them to come back.
“The government and police force is doing its best to ensure locations where people want to work are secure.
“If there is any danger we will keep people informed.”
UKTI and Al Sharif would not be drawn on how soon UK firms could begin to see deals being signed nor could Al Sharif give a date for completing contract recalibration.
Of the top 10 consultants working in North and West Africa region (listed in the NCE Consultants File 2013) only Mace, WSP and Amec still have offices in the region.