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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI386,

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI386 2009-05-11 14:02 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO1168
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0386/01 1311418
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 111418Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4810
INFO RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5340
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000386 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR NEA/MAG; COMMERCE FOR NATE MASON; ENERGY FOR GINA 
ERICKSON; PARIS AND LONDON FOR NEA WATCHERS; CAIRO FOR ALEX 
SEVERENS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  5/7/2019 
TAGS: ECON PGOV LY EFIN

1. (C) Summary: Mahmoud Jibril, Chair of the National Economic Development Board and the former head of the National Planning Council, discussed strategies for developing Libya's human resources in a recent meeting with the Ambassador. Jibril highlighted the need to replace the country's decrepit infrastructure and train Libyans to maintain and run their new airports, schools and hospitals. Jibril welcomed American companies, universities and hospitals to participate in this endeavor. End summary. LIBYA'S "THINK TANK" TACKLES PROJECT PLANNING AFTER THE FACT

2. (C) The Ambassador discussed Libya's human development strategy in a May 6 courtesy call on Mahmoud Jibril, Chair of the National Economic Development Board (NEDB), an organization that Jibril likened to a "think tank" of multi-disciplinary experts. Before the March 2009 cabinet shuffle, Jibril was simultaneously in charge of the NEDB and the National Planning Council, but now he directs only the NEDB. He reports directly to the prime minister. A U.S.-educated PhD in strategic planning, Jibril touched on familiar themes, such as Libya's need to diversify its economy away from oil (reftel), but he also fleshed out how Libya is tracking 11,000 development projects.

3. (C) According to Jibril, there are 11,000 development projects in Libya spanning several sectors, with the bulk of projects focusing on infrastructure. The NEDB's role in these projects is to "pave the way" for private sector development, and to create a strategic partnership between private companies and the government. There is a still a "gap of distrust" dividing the two. As to whether Libya has a Master Plan that includes all the 11,000 projects, Jibril admitted that in the past two years, Libya had started executing projects without such a plan. However, the NEDB has been working with experts from Ernst and Young, the Oxford Group, and lately with five consultants from UNDP to advise the prime minister on the best sequencing and pacing of the projects in order to decrease poverty and unemployment. He explained they were developing a "mapping room" to show all the projects, in a similar way to how a navy tracks its submarines all over the world. This "room" will use econometric models to demonstrate the results of different plans. The NEDB also plans to publish an assessment of the projects Libya has embarked on thus far, including plans for the future, in July. Companies in various sectors that might have an interest in working in Libya would be able to review the data and decide if any of the projects were attractive enough for them to invest in. In the meanwhile, he said the General People's Committee for Planning (Ministry of Planning-equivalent) should be able to provide details on Libya's ongoing and projected projects.

BRICKS, MORTAR AND HUMAN INFRASTRUCTURE

4. (C) Jibril stressed that Libya needs not only new schools, houses, hospitals, and roads but also a plan to manage and maintain all these new facilities and projects. This would involve training Libyans and in effect, "rebuilding human beings." He said the United States could help by encouraging people-to-people contacts. He suggested U.S. universities be paired with Libyan ones. If a U.S. educational institution were established in Libya, in his view, this would be a lasting investment that would withstand any political changes, citing the examples of the American Universities of Beirut and Cairo.

5. (C) As for opportunities for U.S. companies, Jibril said Libya was "opening widely and very fast" and that the world economic crisis had not hit Libya. He characterized the economy as being "in a liquid phase, and not yet solidified," with many opportunities for foreign companies willing to take the risk to come here. He recommended U.S. firms focus on strategic projects, i.e., ones that touch people's lives, such as education and healthcare. Libya would also need help managing facilities, such as airports. He contrasted Libya to the Gulf area, which he thought would remain unstable for the next ten years due to tensions with Iran. Libya, on the other hand, has a stable regime and is "virgin country" for investors.

6. (C) Regarding possible programs with the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Jibril noted NEDB was still reviewing six proposals from American universities to train Libyan diplomats. He expected the internal review to take another week. A U.S. proposal in the economic sphere, via the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Law Development Program, would send NEDB TRIPOLI 00000386 002.2 OF 002 staff on a study tour of small business incubators in the U.S. This had to be postponed until September or October in order to give the NEDB staff time to assess the needs of their business advising program.

7. (C) Comment: With a PhD in strategic planning from the University of Pittsburgh, Jibril is a serious interlocutor who "gets" the U.S. perspective. He is also not shy about sharing his views of U.S. foreign policy, for example, opining that the U.S. spoiled a golden opportunity to capitalize on its "soft power" (McDonald's, etc.) after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1989 by putting "boots on the ground" in the Middle East. At the same time, his organization has a daunting task to tackle, in terms of rationalizing 11,000 development projects in the chaotic Libyan government bureaucracy and also, to train Libyans to work in new sectors outside of the hydrocarbons industry. Jibril has stated American companies and universities are welcome to join him in this endeavor and we should take him up on his offer. End comment. CRETZ