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In My View

March 11, 2015

Angola’s Business Community Is Ready to Support Local Enterprise

Being part Angolan, I have watched in amazement the country’s remarkable development in recent times. Just over a decade ago, Angola was coming out of one of the longest civil wars the world has seen. Today, although the country still bears some of its battle scars, evident mainly in the lack of modern infrastructure, it sure has come a long way…and in such a short time too.

The government’s focus on economic diversification has steered the country on its path to progress. Despite the present fall in oil prices and government cut backs on public spending, I believe that the conditions in Angola today are still in favor of economic growth and development…albeit at a slower pace than we had all looked forward to.

Here I am with Abrahão Gourgel, Minister of Economy (middle) and Sergio Serrão, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, FACRA (right)

Here I am with Abrahão Gourgel, Minister of Economy (middle) and Sergio Serrão, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, FACRA (right)

We must remember that the Angolan economy is a lot more diversified today than it was when the 2008 oil crisis hit. The non-oil sector accounted for 40 percent of GDP in 2008 but grew to 60 percent in 2013. It is therefore necessary to continue stimulating the local economy by supporting local enterprises and its diversification from oil.

In fact, last month I attended an investment forum in Luanda, hosted by the Fundo Activo de Capital de Risco Angolano (FACRA), which aims to promote innovation, entrepreneurship and the creation of qualified jobs for Angolans. I was so pleased to see many of Angola’s entrepreneurs and business leaders come together to show their support to help develop and expand local enterprise.

L-R: Generoso de Almeida, Former Governor of National Bank of Angola and Manuel Godinho, Administrator at SODEPAC were amongst the guests who attended the event

L-R: Generoso de Almeida, Former Governor of National Bank of Angola and Manuel Godinho, Administrator at SODEPAC were amongst the guests who attended the event

Angola’s business community is clearly serious about taking the wheel and driving local entrepreneurship forward. Organizations like FACRA, which invests in Micro, Small and Medium Angolan Enterprises (MSME), further demonstrate that the Government too is committed to backing local entrepreneurs and maintaining its focus on economic diversification and job creation despite the challenging times it faces.

As an entrepreneur myself, I remain optimistic that there is scope for continued growth within the non-oil sectors, especially in agriculture, manufacturing and services. In fact focusing on these sectors is what will eventually lower unemployment and poverty rates in Angola. Now is the time for Angolans to innovate and conceive innovative entrepreneurship ideas that have strong commercial potential and local relevance. Only then can the business create a continuous demand and supply and become profitable.

Maria Luísa Abrantes, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Agency for Private Investment (ANIP) addressing the crowd during the event

Maria Luísa Abrantes, Chairman of the Board of Directors, National Agency for Private Investment (ANIP) addressing the crowd during the event

To my right is Teodoro Jesus Poulson, a member of the Investment Committee, FACRA

To my right is Teodoro Jesus Poulson, a member of the Investment Committee, FACRA

Here’s an example. Let’s looks at the ongoing development of the Port of Caio, Angola’s greenfield, deep sea port in the Province of Cabinda, which is going to become the future shipping hub of the region. The port presents Angolans with vast job and new business opportunities, especially in logistics, warehousing and port services. It will make way for increased trade and commerce opportunities within Angola, throughout the region, and even internationally.

In the short-term, the port will generate thousands of immediate jobs, including port, office and administrative services. But as a state-of-the-art facility, it also presents longer term opportunities for innovation-led businesses to thrive, especially in the renewable energies, ICT, and oil-related artisanal sectors. Just think about the prospects here

The FACRA Day was an opportunity for Angola’s entrepreneurs to build trusted partnerships and meet the challenges of economic growth and diversification in Angola

The FACRA Day was an opportunity for Angola’s entrepreneurs to build trusted partnerships and meet the challenges of economic growth and diversification in Angola

So despite the bumpy road ahead, we should not lose sight of the opportunities that are present before us. My advice to young Angolans is to stay optimistic, start thinking about what sort of enterprises will thrive in these opportunities and seek out support from organizations like FACRA who can help with funding. Angola has been through tougher times during the civil war, and also during the 2008 financial crisis. Each time we have bounced back. So there is every reason to believe that we will do so again.