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The governance of Libyan ports: determining a framework for successful devolution

Ghashat, Hesham


Hesham Ghashat


Following a period of isolation, and particularly since the lifting of sanctions imposed by the United Nations at the beginning of the 1990s in 2003, Libya's economy has witnessed a remarkable growth with a corresponding increase in external trade. The country's economic policy has changed and become more liberalised; involving a move towards a market economy, an increase in the participation of the private sector in all economic activities, and diversification of the sources of national income. At the port sector level Libya aims to rehabilitate and modernise the container port sector, in order to cope with the technological development that has occurred in the global shipping and port industry. The future of the sector will also involve moving beyond serving the local trade; there is a desire to convert one or more of country's ports into a hub in the Mediterranean region, and as a gateway serving the trade of landlocked countries.
Many researchers have suggested that to handle changes in the operational environments at the ports the structure of the port should be an organic one in order to secure port responsiveness. Organic structure can be achieved via implementation of a devolution policy, and over the past two decades, devolution of port governance has proved to be one way of enhancing the efficiency of ports and of handling port authorities/governments strategy shifts. Furthermore; thus far changes in governance structure, via the
implementation of devolution policy, have assisted in resolving port problems, which include physical, management and administration. This research contributes significantly to the literature in the field of ports' studies; offering the policy makers of Libya with a guide for the best way to govern the port sector in Libya and outlining the steps that need to be followed to achieve this.
To achieve this, the thesis reviews the policy of port devolution, and the current situation within Libya's port industry in detail; discussing the challenges' facing the Libyan port sector (container and general cargo ports). Empirically, the necessity for the devolution of Libya's ports is examined with a matching framework analysis and this is further demonstrated via a stakeholders' attitudinal survey, including suggestions for the best future governance structure and the expected impact of adopting a devolution policy. The findings are validated using a Delphi survey; the technique was utilised to deduce the critical determinants for the successful implementation of a port devolution policy in Libya.
The findings reveal that in order to help the sector to survive in the existing competitive environment, the technical performance of Libya's ports needs to be improved. A fundamental change to the governance structure of the sector is perceived as a top priority for enhancing its performance; the results confirm that the allocation of responsibility for port functions does not fall neatly into the categories proposed in the widely-accepted port privatisation matrix, and is instead subject to different factors, e.g. the country's financial capabilities. A further contribution is that stakeholder interests were used as a basis for measuring the performance of the new governance structure.
The analysis indicates that changes in port governance structure are widely expected to have a positive impact, leading to benefits for the majority of port stakeholders. However, the success of the devolution policy was found to be determined by factors beyond the selection of an appropriate governance structure and stakeholder satisfaction; some of the success factors identified relate to the institutional environment of the port sector. By combining the findings of the primary surveys with the literature, a systematic integrated vision for the success of port devolution in Libya is proposed.

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Nov 8, 2012
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Libya; shipping; container ports; port governance; port devolution;
Public URL
Contract Date Nov 8, 2012
Award Date 2012-03


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