In an unusually frank speech delivered to the General Engineering Union in Tripoli on 24 July, Gaddafi said: ‘We have no significant credit for what had been achieved in the past, because the foreigners were the ones who achieved everything from the simplest to the biggest thing.’

Lamenting the amount of Libya’s oil income that has gone to outside companies for the construction of national infrastructure, Gaddafi announced the start of a new phase of economic activity requiring ‘that nothing be built by foreign tools, and whatever is built in Libya will be by Libyans, or else nothing would be built.’

In the speech, one of a series to mark the anniversary of the Al-Fatah revolution, Gaddafi also called on Libyan contractors to set their sights on winning foreign construction projects, particularly those financed by Libyan investors in neighbouring African countries.