The Tripoli Special Economic Zone (TSEZ) Project entailed drafting a feasibility study and master plan for a Special Economic Zone in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, with the intent of facilitating job creation in an important part of the country outside the capital city. The TSEZ seeks to reduce barriers to doing business and to enhance collaborative opportunities for investment and export-led growth. The multi-faceted project undertaken by IDG provided assistance in four crucial technical areas of trade and investment:
- Creating a legal and regulatory environment within the TSEZ jurisdiction conducive to doing business, including measures to facilitate trade and investment;
- Analyzing the market and demand for investment, including investment and trade flows, and conducting a financial and economic feasibility analysis of the Zone;
- Assessing the infrastructure, environmental, and engineering aspects of the zone and designing appropriate infrastructure and facilities necessary for its success, including costs and detailed planning; and
- Increasing business facilitation services to the business community to drive collaborative approaches to investment in the port city of Tripoli.
IDG fielded experts with expertise in planning, legal reform, economics and finance, and civil engineering. Phase 1 of the project focused on assessing the barriers to doing business in Lebanon, analyzing trade and investment flows to gauge market trends, and estimating the amount of investment likely to flow into the proposed TSEZ. IDG also identified public-private partnership scenarios that would allow the government of Lebanon to attract investment from private developers to construct and operate the zone, using financial analysis to determine required internal rates of return (IRR). This approach is designed to ensure sustainability by lessening the burden on the government’s budget, while maximizing returns to private investors.
IDG estimated the rate of growth of the zone so that infrastructure could be planned and phased in a manner that minimized costs, adopting a low-carbon philosophy in the design of infrastructure in the TSEZ. IDG conducted assessments of off-site infrastructure—power, water, waste treatment facilities, and telecommunications—and transportation facilities, and estimated the costs associated with necessary upgrades the government must make to ensure project success. The TSEZ Project Team also created a concept master plan for on-site infrastructure, utilities, and facilities, using a consultative process at different levels and phases of the project to gather recommendations build buy-in and create consensus from local counterparts (including in government and local businesses).
Project outputs included: 1) Demand forecast that estimates the level of investment, employment generation, and required land and utilities for the TSEZ to ensure success; 2) Concept master plan, based on the demand forecast, which specifies the zone design, infrastructure, and phasing of construction over the short and long term to best facilitate trade; 3) Financial analysis, showing the IRR to a private developer; 4) Economic analysis showing the economic rate of return to the government; 5) Recommendations for structuring PPP agreements between the government and private sector; and 6) Recommendations for legal and regulatory reform to enhance the business environment inside the TSEZ.