UKTI is working with Libya’s National Transitional Government to find British firms that can play a role in rebuilding Libya’s infrastructure.
Tripoli airport and Misrata hospital are the first specific projects to be named. The construction industry is itching to get in to Libya but until Gaddafi’s death last week, the security situation remained unclear. Flights, visas and insurance were also hindrances.
But defence secretary Philip Hammond last week urged executives to “pack their suitcases” and head for Libya.
Robin Lamb, director general of the Libya British Business Council, warned that it could still be too early as there is still no government to sign contracts.
And British architects are warning Libya not to give way to untrammelled development.
Philip Graham from Edward Cullinan Architects described it as a “dangerous moment” for Libya whose next phase “should be about ideas not contracts”.
Graham, who spent several months living in the country while working on Shahat Garden City in the eastern Green Mountain heritage region, said: “An emerging government with so much to do so quickly may find the pressure of big business at the gates very hard to resist.
“But resist they must for there is too much at stake in Libya – archaeology, biodiversity, wild landscapes and coastlines, social needs and fragile micro-economies – to let a period of unmanaged growth compromise the promise of a new future for the deserving Libyan people…
“Without leaders who know the value of the work that has already been done towards Libya’s sustainable future, and who have the courage to manage development until approved strategies are in place, the moment may pass with an opportunity missed.
“Gaddafi’s death is a turning point and they mustn’t rush into decisions with long-term legacies.”
Graham will express his concerns in a lecture at Goodenough College in Bloomsbury tonight on Cullinans’ Libyan work. The audience is expected to include figures from the Foreign Office, DFID and UKTI.