‘Hey, they’re putting up Christmas lights’, I thought as I drove down Gurgi Road, before remembering which country I was in. No, these are lights to mark the Third AU-EU Summit to be held on 29 and 30 November in Tripoli. There are also flagpoles and a general sense of a quick house-cleaning before visitors arrive but I thought no more about it until the rumours began: ‘The airport will be closed.’ ‘No, only the international part will be closed.’ ‘The airport road will be closed.’ ‘No, lots of roads will be closed.’ ‘You won’t be able to buy petrol.’ ‘All the guests have been ejected from the hotels to make way for VIPs.’ 80 leaders are expected to attend, some with huge entourages. Some embassies have been informed that businesses are to close on Sunday and Monday – but others haven’t!

In an effort to find out more I consulted the internet, particularly www.europafrica.net where I discovered that the main theme of the summit is ‘Investment, Economic Growth and Job Creation’. All good stuff, obviously. The delegates are expected to adopt the Second Action Plan (2011-2013) of the Joint Africa-Europe Strategy which covers matters such as peace and security, regional integration, energy and infrastructure, climate change, migration, private sector development, and agriculture and food security. If they can sort that lot out they are more than welcome to take every single hotel room the city has to offer!

Migration is, of course, particularly relevant to Libya, which has offered to solve the problem of illegal migrants reaching Europe via Libya by improving conditions in their home countries if the EU will just cough up 5 billion euros per year. According to Menas, the EU has agreed to pay Libya up to 60 million euros over three years which Libya has accepted in order to kick off its programme. It is investing in a radar system to monitor its coastline and has agreed to better organize the movement of migrants. Maybe this has provoked the unpleasant games of cat and mouse going on around the city for guest workers whether they are legal or not.

On a completely different note, I was fascinated to discover that companies with no connection to Libya whatsoever are using the .ly ending as a way of making a memorable website name. (To see what I mean look at www.cheap.ly) To stop this trend, the  Libyan domain name registry NIC.ly has said that ‘strings shorter than four symbols long are to be registered directly under .ly ONLY through Libya Telecom and Technology in the upcoming period to guarantee that registrants have local presence’. This is to try and help local companies, many of whom have only recently decided to set up websites, who find that the domain name they would like to use for their company has already been taken by non-Libyan interests. Ironical when you think that only a couple of years ago it was difficult to access the internet in Libya!

Have a good week whether or not it is business as usual or a nice holiday or time off without pay. Here’s to economic growth!



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By Kate Minogue

Sunday 28th November 2010

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