‘We are experiencing a new reality,’ he told delegates in Tripoli. ‘There is a new beginning between Libya and the West. Now we are talking about reforms and modernisation, but we have to understand the goals, aims and timing, otherwise we will repeat the mistakes of others.’ Al-Islam, expected by many to succeed his father as the country’s leader, said his vision for the liberalisation of the country’s economy would rely on extensive consultation with the Libyan people, as well as with local and international experts.

‘The main obstacle is how to let the wheel move forward and we will not be able to do that unless we have the support of the government,’ he told MEED in an exclusive interview. ‘So we will start by introducing a lot of people into that process to ensure we gain big popular support. We want our model to be tailor-made for Libya because we don’t want investors to come in today and sack workers tomorrow or to create a monopoly.’ Al-Islam said that he favoured the idea of long-term management contracts, leases and other forms of public-private partnership rather than the full scale sell-off of state assets. ‘We are in contact with international institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank,’ he said. ‘We also have the support of sovereign states such as Germany.’

Al-Islam said he envisaged that his new economic masterplan would be rolled out in stages. The first stage, he said, would involve a detailed assessment of the country’s legal and regulatory framework, banking sector and economic policies. The next stage will be to identify the key sectors and prepare detailed development plans for each sector. Stage three would see the implementation of the plan.

‘The key sectors will be oil and gas, banking and professional development,’ said Osman Boukhrais, economic adviser to Al-Islam. ‘Libya plans to double oil production in 10 years through the development of new fields, enhanced oil recovery and new exploration. We also have plans to modernise National Oil Corporation (NOC)and the Energy Ministry. We are working with the IMF and consultants to look at the central bank and to enhance banking sector supervision. Then we will look at commercial banks and see what is needed to create a viable banking system. So this means developing commercial banks as well as foreign banks.’

Al-Islam said the plan was his own private initiative not connected with the government, but sources in Tripoli say the project has the approval of his father.