The Misurata Free Zone (MFZ), established by government decree in 2000, aims to promote the development of manufacturing, industry and entrepreneurship in the Misrata region, as part of efforts to diversify the broader national economy. As an independent entity operating under the Ministry of Economy, the MFZ seeks to optimise local potential and resources in the context of sustainable growth. Creating employment opportunities, providing training, and diversifying away from a reliance on oil and gas are key priorities for the zone.

Companies seeking to operate within the MFZ must undergo an environmental impact assessment conducted by zone authorities and overseen by the Ministry of Economy. The MFZ ensures that companies adhere to global best practices in terms of waste management, hazardous waste prevention, waste collection and recycling, and carbon emissions reduction. The free zone’s seaport is also required to comply with international maritime law to protect the environment.

The MFZ owns and operates the largest seaport in Libya, known as the Port of Misrata, which spans 190 ha. It has 4400 metres of quay and a maximum berth depth of 14 metres. The MFZ’s independence allows companies located in the zone to make quick decisions and benefit from clear and unified regulation and oversight.

In 2015 a ministerial decree sought to link the MFZ with its affiliate, the Taminhent Free Zone (TFZ), through a 1000-km motorway to promote trade between the Sahel and sub-Saharan Africa. The MFZ in the north and the TFZ in the south are under the same management, with connections to other towns in southern Libya and neighbouring Niger and Chad possible from the TFZ.

The MFZ encourages environmentally sustainable operations at the zone’s port, aligning with so-called green port standards. International companies operating in the MFZ and Libya more broadly also operate according to their own environmental, social and governance (ESG) policies. For example, in 2022 French energy major TotalEnergies completed a solar power project and a sustainable liquids initiative in Libya, and in 2021 the company supplied solar-powered oxygen production units in multiple municipalities across the country.

Sustainability in terms of infrastructure is a particular priority for the region, including at port facilities and related to connectivity within and outside the zone. Historically, many ports in the region have faced inefficiencies in infrastructure, resulting in waste and negative impacts on ESG criteria. However, the MFZ benefits from modern facilities and road connectivity to other destinations in Libya. Having a port within the boundaries of the zone, as well as the MFZ’s proximity to Misrata International Airport, offers efficiency advantages and supports the area’s broader ESG agenda.