Interview: Fathi Amin Al Turki

How has Misrata’s private sector recovered in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic and recent economic uncertainty in the country?

FATHI AMIN AL TURKI: Although the region’s recovery has been a gradual process, it has been bolstered by the determination, adaptability and resilience of local businesses. The pandemic underscored the significance of digital transformation and innovation in various industries, prompting Misrata’s private sector to embrace technology. This shift has led to significant growth in digital payments and financial services, opening up opportunities for investment and entrepreneurship.

Misrata’s strategic location and the presence of the Misurata Free Zone (MFZ) and the Port of Misrata have been instrumental in attracting investment and creating opportunities for trade and shipping-related businesses. The MFZ offers a business-friendly environment with tax incentives, enabling companies to set up operations and access regional markets. The Port of Misrata is a crucial gateway for imports and exports, facilitating trade within Libya and with neighbouring countries. Furthermore, Misrata’s road connections to other Libyan towns and neighbouring countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Niger and Chad reinforce its role as a trade centre.

Which sectors of Misrata’s economy are attracting the most interest from international investors?

AL TURKI: Misrata has captured the attention of foreign investors, particularly in the city’s growing technology services’ offerings, along with its historical capabilities in trade, logistics, food manufacturing and agriculture. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are emerging in the services sector, focusing on technology-driven businesses. Investors have also shown interest in financial services and the digital payments segment because of their potential for expansion and innovation.

These sectors have seen steady growth and development, building upon the city’s infrastructure and resources. The agriculture sector, in particular, presents an appealing opportunity for investors looking to capitalise on the region’s fertile land, favourable climate for various agricultural activities and the proximity of food manufacturing industries.

Creating an enabling environment for SMEs to thrive is key to enhancing Misrata’s investment attractiveness. To that end, various initiatives and programmes have been implemented to support SMEs in Misrata. The Misrata Chamber of Commerce provides a platform for networking and collaboration, facilitating connections between businesses and potential investors. The chamber also advocates for the interests of local companies at the national level, working to create an enabling environment for SME growth. These enterprises create employment opportunities for the local population and inject dynamism into the business landscape.

In what ways are businesses adapting to the current economic climate in Libya?

AL TURKI: Libya’s lack of a unified national governance model creates significant hurdles for businesses. The absence of clear regulations leads to uncertainties in transactions and complicates interactions with government entities. Moreover, these ambiguities weaken Libya’s ability to secure beneficial trade deals to support local businesses and trade.

That being said, businesses in Misrata have demonstrated remarkable resilience and ingenuity in navigating the domestic landscape. The city’s entrepreneurial spirit and forward-thinking approach has allowed companies to identify new opportunities, develop creative solutions and diversify their offerings to adapt to changing conditions. By fostering a supportive ecosystem that encourages innovation and collaboration, the broader region can continue to attract investment and create a conducive environment for businesses to flourish in the face of ever-changing circumstances.