The damage caused by the Libya’s civil war has largely been superficial. In Tripoli, power, water and waste services have all been restored and commercial flights have restarted. International oil firms are already back at work and, for now, production is on the up.
Armed with more than $150bn-worth of unfrozen old regime funds, Libya’s National Transitional Council (NTC) has the financial potential to bring life back to normal in Libya. But first, it has to build the bureaucratic capacity that was absent under Muammar Gaddafi’s rule.
Having ousted Gaddafi, Libyans are growing impatient and not just with the militias roaming the country. The NTC is accused of conceding to regionalism and favouring some tribes over others, as well as operating in secrecy. Former Oil and Finance Minister Ali al-Tarhouni, who returned from exile as a professor of economics in the US, has called the new NTC cabinet an “unelected elite”.
For its part, the NTC has put off making any major decisions, deferring this responsibility to a future elected government, while promising greater openness. Keen to ensure that its dealings are seen as legitimate and avoid the smear of corruption, large contracts will not be awarded until after elections, planned for the middle of this year.
After more than four decades of Gaddafi’s quixotic rule, foreign investors will still be wary. The NTC will drive a hard bargain for the lucrative construction, infrastructure and oil deals expected later in 2012, favouring those countries that supported their uprising.