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Viewing cable 09TRIPOLI705, RATS BE GONE: UK PEST ERADICATION FIRM RENTOKIL EXPANDING IN LIBYA REF: 08 TRIPOLI 635 TRIPOLI 00000705 001.2 OF 002

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
09TRIPOLI705 2009-08-30 17:05 2011-01-31 21:09 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tripoli
VZCZCXRO4491
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHKUK RUEHROV
DE RUEHTRO #0705/01 2421704
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 301704Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5212
INFO RUEHEE/ARAB LEAGUE COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 1151
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 0823
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME 0592
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RUEHVT/AMEMBASSY VALLETTA 0435
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI 5756
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TRIPOLI 000705

SIPDIS 

STATE FOR NEA/MAG; STATE PLEASE PASS TO USTR; ENERGY FOR GINA ERICKSON; COMMERCE FOR NATE MASON; PARIS AND LONDON FOR NEA WATCHERS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 8/30/2019

TAGS: ECON EFIN EIND EINV SENV TPHY LY

SUBJECT: RATS BE GONE: UK PEST ERADICATION FIRM RENTOKIL EXPANDING IN LIBYA REF: 08 TRIPOLI 635 TRIPOLI 00000705 001.2 OF 002

CLASSIFIED BY: Joan Polaschik, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy Tripoli, Department of State. REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)

1.(C) Summary: One of the UK's top pest eradication firms has won a contract with the Libyan government to exterminate rodents in the cities of Tripoli, Sirte, and Benghazi, to fill a gap that the government-run pest control program has been unable to address. When a Bubonic Plague outbreak hit Tobruk a few months ago, Rentokil was asked to extend its work-zone to that city. The general manager of Rentokil told Econoff he sees a great need for pest eradication companies in Libya. His firm plans to expand its operations from the public to the private sphere in October by launching a new joint-venture with a local Libyan company. End summary.

RENTOKIL - FROM EXTERMINATION TO CARTOGRAPHY

2. (C) Rentokil, one of the UK's top pest eradication firms, was contracted in July 2008 by the GOL's General People's Committee for Infrastructure (Ministry-equivalent), headed by Secretary Matuq Matuq, to exterminate rodents in the cities of Tripoli, Misurata, and Benghazi. According to Richard Jones, General Manager of Rentokil's branch office in Libya, there is a huge need for not only rodent control services but also for eradicating roaches and other insects in Libyan cities. He said the need was so great that other companies, including U.S. firms, would be welcome support in the effort.

3. (C) In January 2008, the GOL contacted Rentokil in search for a pest control company to help eradicate a growing rodent population across the country. Until that point, the GOL had operated its own pest control technician teams, but recognized that its traditional methods of controlling the pest and rodent populations were no longer effective. The Libyan authorities suspected that the rodent population had developed a resistance to the anti-coagulant used by the GOL teams. According to Rentokil, the rodents act as vectors for serious diseases in Libya, including Bubonic Plague, Leptospirosis, Salmonella, Enterica Serovar Typhimurium, Esosinophilic Meningitis, and rat bite fever. Additionally, the vector for Leschmaniasis, the sand fly, harbors on a rodent known as Psammomys Obesus, or the fat sand rat. The GOL therefore created a "National Program for the Control of Rodents Harmful to Health" in 2008 to combat the country's growing rodent and pest problem. After a few months of negotiations, Rentokil concluded a contract with the GOL in July 2008.

4. (C) In Tripoli, Rentokil has 150,000 bait stations set-up to eradicate rats. Rentokil staff monitor the numbers of dead rodents they find on ground surfaces, which then allows them to estimate the numbers of rodents killed who have retreated to their holes in the ground. They have developed a grid system, using state-of-the-art information technology systems. The staff also use hand-held PDA devices to keep track of the data in the field. To overcome the challenge of Libya's lack of street addresses or mapping grids, Rentokil has developed a mapping system using Satellite imagery and Google Earth; all the bait stations are plotted onto this system.

5. (C) Rentokil inherited many employees from the Libyan government and had to retrain people in their techniques and also had to provide English language training so the Libyans could communicate with the Rentokil staff from the UK (which include 32 expatriates). Jones noted they have had to deal with significant attrition as the Libyan government staff was "not used to working that hard," and some employees have left without advanced notice. Rentokil is attempting to limit its attrition rates by tripling the government salaries of former GOL employees.

PLAGUE OUTBREAK IN TOBRUK: RENTOKIL BROUGHT IN TO HELP

6.(C) Touching on the outbreak of the Bubonic Plague in Libya's eastern city of Tobruk earlier this summer, Hill explained the rodents had moved into populated areas after construction projects upset piping systems. This resulted in the death of more rodents than usual, and the fleas on those animals jumped onto livestock and other animals living near people, spreading disease to the human population. Hill estimated that up to 20 people died as a result of this outbreak. He said Rentokil was asked to go to Tobruk to help TRIPOLI 00000705 002.2 OF 002 exterminate the rodents, although the city was not part of their original scope of work.

RENTOKIL'S LESSONS LEARNED

7. (C) Having heard that the GOL was famous for late payments, Jones told Econoff that Rentokil required a sizeable up-front payment, which allowed the firm to begin the set-up of operations, including finding office space and housing, recruiting staff, and shipping supplies to Libya. They also require all communications to be in writing with their client, the General People's Committee for Infrastructure, headed by Secretary Matuq Matuq. Jones told Econoff that the pest control sector in Libya is dominated by academics, many of whom approach their work from a theoretical perspective. Through Rentokil's retraining of Libyan government staff, they have emphasized a more practical, hands-on approach that has taken more time but proven to be worthwhile in the end. Jones noted there are very few private companies working in pest control in Libya and he sees room for other companies, including U.S. firms, to pursue opportunities here.

8. (C) Now that Rentokil is established in Libya, it plans to expand to the private sector and will enter into a joint venture with Libyan company, Shahdi, in October. Shahdi already provides motorpool services for the American construction management firm AECOM but will be new to the pest control market. Rentokil will hold 65 percent of the new joint venture. Jones noted that it has taken four to five months to register the company.

9. (C) Comment: Rentokil's success thus far in Libya is encouraging, as it demonstrates there are opportunities for service provider companies in key sectors, such as pest management, which is a critical component for safeguarding environmental health. This UK-based company has seized upon an unmet need and used it as a spring-board for forming a private joint venture company with a Libyan partner. U.S.-based companies may be able to emulate Rentokil not only in the pest management sector but in other areas, such as healthcare, urban planning, and wastewater treatment. End comment. POLASCHIK