Abdulaziz is in Addis Ababa as a member of the first Libyan delegation to attend an African Union summit since the overthrow of the dictator Muammar Gaddaffi, who had ruled the country for more than four decades.
Gaddaffi was notorious for spending money on the AU, and making all manner of promises to the continental body. That has now come to an abrupt halt. “Now we are dealing with things institutionally, we are not doing individual deals”, said Abdulaziz. “We have to give a new vision, a new impetus”.
Gaddaffi had promised that a new African Investment Bank would have its headquarters in Tripoli. It now seems doubtful if this will go ahead – at least not for the immediate future. “I know Gaddaffi promised that he would be investing in this and that”, said Abdulaziz. “Our economic situation at the moment does not really permit, for the next one or two years, to be able to invest much in this particular project”.
Gaddaffi’s promises “on certain things are now withdrawn”, he said. “I think it should be a fair game between us and the African Union”.
The Gaddaffi regime was so personalized that Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has no clear idea of how much Libya had invested in other African countries. In some cases, legitimate Libyan companies had invested – but in other cases Gaddaffi had used shell companies, or even individuals, making it difficult to track the real scale of Libyan investment.
“We don’t have a figure yet of what we lost, and what is still there”, said Abdulaziz. “We would like to know the viability of these investments, what kind of impacts they could have for us and for the local community where we are investing”.
The NTC planned to make an assessment of Gaddaffi-era Libyan investments in other African countries. “After completing this assessment, we will be able to plan exactly the type of expansion there should be as far as investment is concerned”, the Deputy Minister added. “We cannot plan for the future before making our own assessment”.
39 countries had benefitted from Libyan investment, and the NTC insisted on carrying out a full inventory, before deciding the future of these investments.
“We are now preparing criteria based on bilateral relations, based on mutual interest between us and other African countries”, Abdulaziz said.Post published in: Africa News