Whenever wars break out and political regimes change, business leaders are inevitably quick to see how they can benefit from the situation.

In the case of Iraq, contractors have been looking forward to the prospect of the reconstruction effort ever since the coalition forces unleashed the first attack on Baghdad in 2003. Now, the focus is turning to Egypt and Libya, which have newly emerged from decades of repressive rule during which basic infrastructure was starved of investment.

The potential of these three markets has long been discussed, with strong population growth and, in the case of Egypt, an emergent middle-class creating the ideal conditions for a projects boom. Despite the optimism, stifling bureaucracy and endemic corruption prevented any significant progress from being made.

Now, with new governments forming in Egypt and Libya and a stronger determination in Baghdad to make progress, the next few years should see a flurry of tender activity.

Governments will be keen to see the domestic economy benefit from any construction activity, by using local expertise and materials wherever possible. International contractors who are hoping to win work will need to devise a strategy soon to avoid missing out. Developing ties and forming partnerships with local firms will be a good place to start.

The question is whether the new authorities will fall back into the old ways of doing business, where contracts are awarded to associates and family members. For those looking to win work and for the population as a whole, such an outcome would be hugely disappointing and remove any chance of the countries becoming fair democracies.