Civil war has been raging in Libya for years, crippling the country’s economy and disrupting its telecommunications sector. Considerable telecom infrastructure has been destroyed or stolen, including about a quarter of the country’s mobile tower sites. Reconstruction efforts continue to be stymied by political and military disturbances which affect much of the country. As a result of these difficulties, and of heightened national security issues, telecom services have been regularly disrupted, particularly in the eastern region.
The Internet penetration rate was around 44% in 2017. Libya had one of Africa’s first Fibre-to-the-Premises (FttP) deployments. The first terabit international fibre optic cable landed in the country in 2010, followed by a second in 2013.
The telecom infrastructure in LIBYA remains superior to those in most other African countries in spite of war effects. Massive investments were made by the former government into a next-generation national fibre optic backbone network. There was considerable expansion of DSL and WiMAX broadband services, and new international fibre connections and upgrades made to existing ones. With one of the highest market penetration rates in Africa, the mobile voice market is approaching saturation, supported by some of the lowest tariffs on the continent and one of the highest per capita GDP levels. Opportunities remain in the broadband sector where market penetration is still relatively low.
Libya’s economy, almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, has struggled since 2014 as the country plunged into civil war and world oil prices dropped to seven-year lows. In early 2015, armed conflict between rival forces for control of the country’s largest oil terminals caused a decline in Libyan crude oil production, which never recovered to more than one-third of the average pre-Revolution highs of 1.6 million barrels per day. The Central Bank of Libya continued to pay government salaries to a majority of the Libyan workforce and to fund subsidies for fuel and food, resulting in an estimated budget deficit of about 20% of GDP in 2016.
Libya’s economic transition away from the former socialist model has completely stalled as political chaos persists and security continues to deteriorate. Libya’s leaders have hindered economic development by failing to use its financial resources to invest in national infrastructure. The country suffers from widespread power outages in its largest cities, caused by shortages of fuel for power generation. Living conditions, including access to clean drinking water, medical services, and safe housing, have all declined as the civil war has forced more people to become internally displaced, further straining local resources.
Libya Telecom & Technology (LTT) was originally established in 1997 as a private company. LTT is now a state-owned monopoly which still dominates the Libyan ISP sector. LTT is Libya’s most-used service provider, and much of the country’s Internet penetration is attributable to its DSL and WiMAX services. LTT is currently trying to revamp its network and services. However, due to internal conflict and rising strain on services, many popular provisions have been plagued by network congestion and poor reception.