By Sami Zaptia.
London, 4 August 2020:
The price of local cement has risen to more than LD 75 (US$ 53) per ton, compared to around LD 30 about a year ago, Libya’s state news agency LANA reported Sunday.
The more than doubling in price is partly put to war damage to local cement factories, some of which have stopped manufacturing, but is mainly attributed to pure monopolistic speculation by those currently being described in Libya as crisis or war merchants.
While the price of locally produced cement has reached LD 75, cement imported using the hard-to-obtain hard currency is sold for only LD 60, Libya social media activists have started the Arabic hashtag “#boycott _cement” (qataoo alasmant) in response to its high prices.
The spike in cement prices comes at a critical time for Libya as it is still recovering from the 2011 revolution and the recent Khalifa Hafter war on Tripoli. Huge swathes of Greater Tripoli were damaged during the war needing much cement supply for reconstruction.
It will be recalled that in normal times, Libya produces about 10 million tons of cement, and according to World Bank data, Libya needs about US$ 200 billion over 10 years for reconstruction.