£13,000 Service will include introduction to clients and other firms in the market, advice on setting up, getting visas and repatriating revenue

Smaller firms seeking to break into Libya’s emerging construction market are to be offered a new support service.

The South East Centre for the Built Environment (SECBE) is launching the service in Libya’s capital Tripoli on 19 May and says it has already had expressions of interest from about 45 companies.

The service will cost firms about £13,000 and includes introductions to Libyan clients and other British firms either operating in Libya or seeking to break in. Firms will also receive advice on how to set up business in the country, how to attain visas and repatriate revenues earned there.

Derek Rees, chief executive of SECBE, said: “It’s all about helping people get into the Libyan market. Firms may win more work by teaming up and bidding collectively, so we’re trying to introduce companies to each other.”

He added that Libya represented a great opportunity for British firms. “They are currently putting out about 25% more oil than Abu Dhabi, which has 10% of global reserves, and they are reinvesting as much of what they make from it as possible into the country. The idea is to build up other industries so that Libya is not dependent on hydrocarbons.”

Libya’s GDP is predicted to grow 8% from 2008 to 2011 and it has a massive construction programme underway, including a £100bn infrastructure works plan, according to the Libyan British Business Council.

SECBE is mainly talking to all types of construction consultant at the moment. Rees said this was because these firms are hired at the start of the construction process. “Consultants are at the start of the cycle. We would like to get them working in Libya first, then they will specify British suppliers and in that way get the suppliers and subcontractors business in the country too.”

The organisation aims to help firms in the South-east of a size of roughly between 10 and 75 staff. It believes larger firms do not need its help.

SECBE is a non-profit organisation funded by the South East Development Agency, which aims to help businesses in the construction sector.

A slew of construction firms have announced plans to enter the Libyan market, including QS Cyril Sweett, Dubai’s biggest contractor Arabtec and Middle Eastern M&E firm Drake & Scull International. Firms already there include Ramboll (formerly Ramboll Whitbybird), Davis Langdon and Buro Happold.