A Libyan rebel on the road between Ajdabiya and Brega. Photo by: Kate Thomas / IRIN

Libya’s National Transitional Council is asking for $2.5 billion in foreign aid by the end of August as its campaign to oust Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi continues to gain ground.

Where will the money come from, and what will it be used for?

Libya “has wealth,” as EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton put it this week. Its oil — and frozen Gadhafi assets — can be used to fund development. Germany has already offered a €100 million ($144 million) loan to the country’s rebel government that would be funded by now-frozen assets. U.S. President Barack Obama and others have sent similar signals.

In the short run, Libya needs food and medical supplies. But over the longer run, the country needs technical assistance to create institutions, infrastructure and employment. That’s where the international development community can help.

Years of sanctions against the Gadhafi regime have crippled education and job training in Libya. There’s reason to doubt that local engineers alone will be able to rebuild roads and bridges, that local lawyers and rebel leaders alone will be able to rebuild government.

In the past, countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Egypt and Greece have provided crucial expertise. Such help is now needed more than ever. And yet, it remains to be seen how well the international community will be able to help Libya recover.

Libya’s National Transitional Council, meanwhile, has asked for $2.5 billion to pay salaries this month and to treat those wounded by months of fighting.

Many groups are already assisting on the ground, among them the Red Cross, Médecins Sans Frontières, Médecins du Monde, Emergency, Islamic Relief, Mercy Corps, Save the Children and the Mines Advisory Group.

Libya would be the fourth African country undergoing political transition this year, after Tunisia, Egypt and Ivory Coast. Change never comes easy. But this is an opportunity for resource-rich emerging donor countries in the Middle East to step up and invest in Libya, which has long been a pariah from the Arab community. The Arab League, after all, played a key role in legitimizing military intervention in Libya over the past few weeks.

How do you think the global development community can — and should — help Libya right now and over the coming years?

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Read last week’s Development Buzz on aid NGOs and regulation

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    Rolf Rosenkranz

    Rolf Rosenkranz oversees a talented team of in-house journalists, correspondents and guest contributors located around the globe. Since joining Devex in early 2008, Rolf has been instrumental in growing its fledgling news operation into the leading online source for global development news and analysis. Previously, Rolf was managing editor at Inside Health Policy, a subscription-based news service in Washington. He has reported from Africa for the Johannesburg-based Star and its publisher, Independent News & Media, as well as the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a German daily.