The Business Year


ANGOLA - Economy

Helder Kiala



Helder Kiala is the CEO of TGI Group. Boasting over 15 years in multinational firms, he has excelled in senior roles encompassing Business Strategy, Marketing, HR, and more. Notably, he magnified brand visibility at British American Tobacco and led as the Commercial Director for DDM, Angola’s top Fast moving Consumer Goods’ distributor. Beyond his corporate achievements, Helder was recognized as a race car single seater champion in South Africa. Renowned for his determination, leadership, and result-oriented approach, he holds a degree in Computer Engineering and a postgraduate degree from the University of Wales, where he’s currently pursuing a master’s in business management.

"One of the things companies need before operating here is an understanding of the market. They need to look at local research as well as the laws and regulations."
TBY talks to Helder Kiala, CEO of TGI, about the company’s growth trajectory, industries with potential, and advice for companies looking to enter the Angolan market.
Can you provide an overview of TGI’s activities and services in Angola emphasizing the company’s growth trajectory over the past decade?

TGI was founded by Alex Thomson 15 years ago as small telecommunications company. Since then, we have continued to seek opportunities in the market and adapt to available opportunities. Our main purpose is to connect the world to the markets where we operate by building trust and developing transparent relationships between partners and clients. TGI’s core values from the beginning have been excellence, ethics, and teamwork. We provide legal services, HR, services, marketing, and finance services for companies coming into the country, allowing them to focus on their core business. We have interests in the hotels sector, service and maintenance, telecommunications, catering, and waste management. In the past decade, we have grown significantly in Angola, though we also faced challenges such as inflation, devaluation, difficulty in repatriating capital, and making payments overseas; however, we have been fortunate and always remained one step ahead of the market, which is our most valuable asset. We are fully committed to the future of developing Angola and the company.

Which particular industries or sectors exhibit the greatest potential for growth in Angola?

TGI’s main sector is oil and gas. At the same time, we are also working to diversify into the mining sector because we see certain similarities with oil and gas in terms of the services we provide. We are also considering diversifying into the catering business. In Angola, as a whole, we see opportunities to diversify into agriculture, renewable energy, telecommunications, and tourism. These would be the four areas we would look at in terms of diversifying with companies willing to explore these opportunities.

The relationship between investments and environmental and solution governance considerations is increasingly garnering significance. How does TGI integrate sustainability into its rendered services?

Everyone is talking about sustainability, though in Angola this comes with its share of challenges; however, it will reach a stage where companies need to start aligning themselves with global standards. Through ES&S (one of the companies within the group) we work with most of the operators and service providers in the oil and gas industry. Accordingly, TGI is finalizing its ISO 9001 certification. This is important not just internally to ensure our procedures, processes, and so on are all aligned, but also externally so that we can offer greater credibility, trust, and transparency. We have always been extremely vocal about sustainability from the beginning. We started a project called Praia Limpa (clean beach) in 2014 because we had a hotel in front of a beach that was dirty. In addition to just cleaning up the beach, we also focus on educating the community as well. We also participate in social initiatives, especially in Luanda. Three years ago, we started working on a project for an orphanage that we support. We are now in the construction phase of a definitive accommodation structure for the orphanage and supporting the school refurbishment that will also focus on educating the 100 children there. Our dream is to eventually hire some of those children after they are educated.

Will the current devaluation of the kwanza attract more foreign investors to the country?

In theory, it could attract more investors; however, we would much prefer the stability that the country enjoyed a few years ago when companies could plan or operate for the long term. We have been contacted by many different companies looking to enter Angola, though for most it is just an intention. They ask questions and do their due diligence, but later either vanish or postpone their plans. The issue is that as a foreign investor, I want transparency, credibility, and stability in a country. If I am investing money in, I also want to be able to get my money out. This uncertainty is one of the major issues that we have identified. TGI is working to mitigate this as much as possible. For example, we have forged strong relationships with certain banks; however, despite all our efforts, we still want the government to look into these challenges because it will eventually make everyone’s lives easier.

TGI’s business involves facilitating the operations of foreign companies here. What advice would you give to a company planning to start an operation in Angola?

One of the things companies need before operating here is an understanding of the market. They need to look at local research as well as the laws and regulations. Networking is also critical. Success depends on understanding the market and determining how one’s product or service can fit into that. What we sell is our understanding of the market. We can help a company establish their business or bring in a product as long as we feel it can be done and is what the market needs.

What are TGI’s plans for growth and consolidation in the Angolan market?

We will continue our diversification in terms of plans. We are looking at business outside the oil and gas sector, such as mining. We will also reinforce our catering business. In terms of servicing, Cabinda is a major area of focus for us. Apart from the 600 rooms’ accommodation, we are also looking at warehousing and offices within the center of Cabinda’s industrial area. We will continue to explore potential partners looking to enter Angola. We are always open in terms of sectors or industries.



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