business‎ > ‎

Libyans seek to make Benghazi economic capital

posted 24 Jan 2013, 09:15 by Mpelembe   [ updated 24 Jan 2013, 09:15 ]

Libyan businessman and officials attend an international economic conference inBenghazi, aimed at placing the city on the map as the country's economic capital.

BENGHAZILIBYA (JANUARY 21, 2013) (REUTERS) - Businessmen and officials packed a conference hall in the Libyan city of Benghaziwhere they came together to discuss the potential of the city's economy.

Benghazi, located in the east of the country, is a major port, oil hub and manufacturing zone.

Many here want the city's strengths to be officially acknowledged, and argue that it is time for Benghazi to regain its rightful place as a leading business and commercial centre.

''We as members of the conference strive for the constitution to say that Benghazi is the economic capital. And if they say to us why should it be the economic capital? We can easily say to them that Benghazi has great economic strengths,'' said conference attendee Alaa Al Makrif.

''We in Libya aren't lacking in anything. By the grace of God we have talented young people, we have wide amounts of land. We have ports and airports, and the important thing is the location of Libya and the location of Benghazi specifically. We are a gateway to Africa, we can invest in this, in us being a gateway to Africa. and why not? Benghazihas a port and airports, so why not widen the trade,'' he added.

The idea is a common one in Benghazi, perhaps because it is not new. The city, which is a major port, an oil industry hub and a manufacturing zone, cultivated its status as a premier economic centre under King Idris, whom Gaddafi overthrew. Its population is now estimated at nearly 1 million, roughly half the size of the capital Tripoli.

Idris Imran from the country's Chamber of Commerce said it's down do Benghazi's 'assets' that can make the city an 'economic hub',

''It is an economic area or an economic capital for Free Libya. And this demand from the region and the neighbouring eastern areas (of Libya) has been since ancient times. This area's assets can make this a reality, and lead to its being an economic hub that will amaze the world, just as the world was amazed by this area and the neighbouring areas during the revolution for freedom," said Imran.

It is the city's Chamber of Commerce that organised the event and are championing the idea of Benghazi being the economic capital.

They are also looking to further 'develop the city commercially, technically and administratively.'

New construction projects can be seen around the city, and last year the IMF said it saw the Libyan economy rebounding as the country rebuilds, and oil production levels increases to levels last seen since Muammar Gaddafi's rule.