Vendors line up for shot at emerging Libyan market

Libya is rapidly emerging as an attractive market for IT vendors in the region following the US’ decision to restore full diplomatic relations with the country earlier this year. As more suppliers secure the export clearance licence they require to trade in the country, the race is on to formally develop local channel partnerships.

  • E-Mail
By  Andrew Seymour Published  October 8, 2006

Libya is rapidly emerging as an attractive market for IT vendors in the region following the US’ decision to restore full diplomatic relations with the country earlier this year. As more suppliers secure the export clearance licence they require to trade in the country, the race is on to formally develop local channel partnerships. Several major players have confirmed to Channel Middle East that they are embarking on plans to penetrate the Libyan market and will attempt to court domestic partners which can offer technical expertise and market access. Software vendor CA is one of the first big names to make a play for the market and recently appointed integrator ITS Canada as its inaugural enterprise partner in the country. Toni Prince, regional manager at CA, said: “We chose ITS Canada due to the background of the people. They are mainly Libyan gentlemen who have worked abroad and returned to Libya to set up a one-stop-shop. Libya is focusing on propping up oil and healthcare so there is a lot of IT activity going on,” he added. Sun Microsystems is another vendor looking for resellers in Libya. “There is now a huge opportunity to start working in the country,” said partner and alliances sales office manager MENA, Bruno Haubertin. “It's effectively a brand new market for us and we are in the process of appointing official partners in the region.” US-based IP telephony vendor Avaya is also bullish about its Libyan prospects now that sanctions have been lifted. “Within six months we should have something - we have been approached [by potential partners],” explained Roger El-Tawil, channel and marketing manager at the vendor. “There are a huge number of strategic projects and we will address them,” he vowed. HP is even mooting the idea of establishing a representative office in Libya at some stage, but for now it remains focused on developing its partner base. Gilles Lambinet, general manager SPO for CEE and MEA at HP, said: “There are partners that exist in Libya and [the opening of trade] obviously now facilitates the way for them to do business. We have already selected some partners and we are going to work to get the relevant channel structure there.” It is not only reseller recruitment that is on vendors’ minds. Several are also eager to build brand value in the country by ensuring that their products are made as widely available as possible. In what could be a sign of things to come, both Toshiba and Western Digital have recently awarded Libyan distribution rights to Asbis and Moonstone respectively. Hafeez Khawaja, senior VP MEA at Western Digital, said the Libyan PC sector is estimated to be worth between 40,000 and 50,000 units a quarter. “The growth rate is very high. Year-on-year it is much higher than you will see in the Gulf countries because the market is still behind due to the embargo,” he explained. However, one channel source advised vendors to approach the market with caution given it is home to a population of less than six million people and remains immature from a technology perspective: “The size of the market is still an issue and it can be volatile. Achieving daily run-rate and consistency is going to be challenging for everyone.” Prince at CA acknowledged the market’s adolescence, but denied it presented an obstacle to entry. “Obviously Libya has not been exposed to IT as other markets, but we are quite hopeful that it is likely to pick up,” he said. “One has to be patient. The culture of buying through the channel and being supported by third parties still has to sink in. The market is still trying to get up to speed and dealing with the same challenges that Egypt dealt with 10 years ago,” he concluded.

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code