Tripoli, Libya (Ports Europe) November 21, 2023 – China Harbour Engineering Company has signed an agreement with the Misrata Free Zone in Libya. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) includes studies into potential Chinese investments in the free zone. Misurata Free Zone is the first free-trade economic zone to be established in the country. It includes a seaport, Misurata Free Zone Port.
The agreement was signed at the North Africa International Ports and Free Zones Conference and Exhibition which took place November 18-20, 2023.
China Harbour, Silk Road, BRI
Few MoU details were made public. However, state-controlled China Harbour is a global operator. It is an engineering contractor and a subsidiary of China Communications Construction Company. Services include infrastructure construction, such as marine engineering, dredging and reclamation, road and bridge, railways, airports and plant construction. It plays a key role in China’s new Silk Road economic strategy.
The new Silk Road (part of the Belt and Road initiative also known as One Belt, One Road, or OBOR) is a Chinese economic strategy. It seeks better access for Chinese-made products in global markets, by acquiring stakes in ports and other transport facilities. Cooperation agreements with countries along the Silk Road routes form part of the BRI strategy.
In recent years, Chinese policy has been active in Africa with infrastructure projects in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya and Ethiopia, among others. In April 2023, 148 countries globally had signed up for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), including 44 in Sub-Saharan Africa.
It is a controversial policy, with any commentators saying that it just creates unserviceable debt in African countries.
In Libya, Abdul Hamid Dbeibah is the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Unity (GNU) which controls parts of Western Libya. It faces a rival government based in the East and South of the country. With this unstable situation, it is not clear how any large infrastructure projects or development plans can be implemented.
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