Any guide to doing business in Libya would not be complete without emphasising the need for perseverance. Some might go so far as to say it also requires a degree of masochism.
South Korean contractors are some of the most adept at sticking it out in Libya. They, like anyone else venturing into this tough market, hope that with time things will change, bureaucratic processes will become more transparent and the rules of the game will become clearer. When this happens, they will be there to reap the benefits.
For now, though, they continue to suffer the peculiarities of Libya. As MEED has previously reported, non-payment is one of the most difficult problems with which contractors have to contend.
The General Electricity Company of Libya (Gecol) is one of the worst transgressors. Having delayed payment to contractors, the majority of them South Korean, on two major power projects for months, it has now given the go-ahead to one project, but not the other.
While the budget for the Al-Khaleej steam project has been allocated, Gecol has not managed to secure funds from the government for the Tripoli West project.
The contractors involved with the delayed project are frustrated, but they are also resigned to the fact that this is what they must put up with if they want to maintain their foothold and expand their share of the market.
The situation has not been aided by the chaos at the government level, which was triggered by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s decision to abolish most of the country’s ministries. The move, which was designed to remedy inefficiencies within the system, has so far done little to improve Libya’s ability to manage its oil wealth.