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Libya is a prominent African development Bank member country. With 3.651 % of the institution’s voting powers, it ranks as a leading African shareholder of the ADB, confirming its keen interest in the continent’s socio-economic development.
Though it has been an ADB shareholder since July 1972, Libya is the only regional member that opted not to use ADB resources in financing its development. This choice was justified by the country’s sound financial situation, as one of the countries with the highest macroeconomic indicators, posting a Gross Domestic Product in the order of 35 billion dollars for 2006, and a per capita income of approximately USD 7 000. It also conveys Libya’s constant desire to show solidarity with the other countries on the continent, especially the most disadvantaged.
This concern for concerted and accelerated development of Africa explains Libya’s interest in strengthening cooperation between the nations of Africa, from North to South and from East to West, as well as promoting and developing regional integration.
Founded in 1963, as part of the impetus for the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the African Development Bank (ADB) is an African initiative intended to support the economic and social development of African states, individually and collectively and thereby promote regional integration. Though OAU and ADB have no direct affiliation links, their objectives concerning the African populations are complementary from political and economic standpoints.
As a front-line member of the OAU and of ADB, Libya has been at the root of several initiatives to promote economic growth and further integration on the continent, with the aim of curbing the poverty prevailing in several countries and in its sub-regions, and intensifying its development. This concern shared with the African Development Bank, whose core mission is «to contribute to the economic development and social progress of its regional member- individually and jointly», fuels ADB/Libya cooperation.
With over 3 250 projects financed in Africa since 1967, when it started its operational activities, for a cumulative commitment of 60 billion dollars, ADB has acquired sound experience in the analysis, study, financing and implementation of economic and social development projects in all its 53 regional member states, as well as several regional integration projects.
ADB, as a continental finance institution, has become the principal partner of all the cooperation and regional integration organizations, such as the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the Community of Sahelo-Sahelian States (Cens-Sad) established in 1998 on Libya’s initiative and headquartered in Tripoli, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), The Common Market of East and Southern African States (COMESA), The Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) and the Economic Community of East African States (ECEA).
To contribute to the attainment of the key objectives of these regional integration agencies, ADBhas also provided its financial and technical support to their development finance instruments, particularly the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (PTA Bank), the West African Development Bank (WADB), the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), the East African Development Bank (EADB) and the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA).
ADB in 2006 conducted two studies for the Libyan Government concerning the Libyan banking sector and the development of the water sector respectively. It has also processed a project for a gas pipeline linking Tunisia and Libya.
As Africa’s premier regional development finance institution, the African Development Bank is prepared to cooperate actively with Libya, which is spearheading regional integration initiatives in Africa, to promote the development of the entire region. The ADB can enable Libya to benefit from its expertise in key areas of development of African countries and assist it in designing and implementing reform programmes in different spheres of its economic and financial management: banking and finance reforms, the enhancement of the business framework and environment that is indispensable for the promotion of a dynamic private sector, improvement of strategies and policies to support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, privatization of public enterprises, infrastructure (roads, railways, electricity, water supply, sanitation), etc.
The cooperation prospects currently being discussed notably concern the conduct by ADB of a number of economic and sector studies in the priority areas identified by the country and the Bank. This cooperation could range from direct financing of private enterprises to technical assistance, and include institutional support or advice for formulation of private sector support policies.
ADB is moreover prepared to provide financial support for the implementation of the Libya-Tunisia gas pipeline project and the RASCOM telecommunication project, to be executed under the leadership of RascomStar–Qaf, the first pan African telecommunications operator with majority shares held by the portfolio of Libyan investments in Africa and Société générale libyenne des postes et télécommunications, in conjunction with Regional African Satellite Communication Organization (RASCOM) and Thales Alenia Space.
The African Development Bank is also ready to make its expertise and tools available for Libyan initiatives aimed at bolstering African Unity and regional cooperation. For example, thought is being given to the possibility of ADB, which has already built up an impressive stock of trust among the other African countries, serving as an intermediary for Libya’s development financing in Africa, for example through the establishment of a Libyan technical fund hosted by the African Development Bank.