The role of Libya in African development

Burkino Faso

The Burkinabe, as Burkina Faso’s residents are known, credit Gadhafi with starting banks, hospitals, university buildings, roads, mosques and women’s education centers.

If Ouagadougou were a modern city, this sort of investment might be less conspicuous. But here, Gadhafi’s pet projects stand in stark contrast to the city’s otherwise rundown, dust-colored blocks and streets that are filled with far more scooters than cars.

What to do now, with their major benefactor on the run and a new government coming to power in Tripoli after 42 years, is a major concern.

Despite a recent cooling of ties between their president, Blaise Compaore, and Gadhafi, the Burkinabe speak fondly of the former Libyan leader. While people in the West may see him as a mad nemesis, here he was a source of hope in a country whose own authoritarian government does little for its people.

“He helped build roads. He built centers for poor and orphans,” said Mohammed Congo, a 21-year-old aspiring artist. “A lot of Burkinabe don’t like what is happening.”

There’s no solid estimate of how much Gadhafi’s regime spent here, partly because the projects were a mixed bag of public gifts, off-the-books grants, and the work of a dizzying array of shadow companies.

Next door to the hotel, inside a half-vacant Western-style shopping mall also built by the Libyan African Investment Co., there are signs the transition could be messy and complicated.
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