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ANGOLA - Diplomacy

Vicente Soares

President, Chamber of Commerce and Industry Angola

Bio

Vicente Francisco Soares has a post-graduate in banking management from Universidade Lusofona De Lisboa and studied chemical engineering at the Agostinho Neto University. He has previously worked in positions in banks and is currently the Chairman of the Angola Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In addition, he completed a course in entrepreneurship at the Wharton Business School in Philadelphia, US, and training in wine factory management in Algeria.

"We are carrying out a study to assess the impact on the country's productivity, considering the weight of the informal sector in productivity."
TBY talks to Vicente Soares, President of Chamber of Commerce and Industry Angola, about regularization of the informal sector, the country’s business community, and Angola’s reputation on the international stage.
In our previous interview, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry mentioned investment opportunities particularly in the transformation of raw materials into finished products in the food and fishery sector. What has been the Chamber’s role in promoting investment in these sectors?

The sectors we talked about last year, agriculture, industry, and fishing, remain the priorities for the process of diversifying the national economy. There has been a huge effort on the part of the government and entrepreneurs. Our work has been to mobilize companies to improve their investments and try to attract more investors to Angola to participate in all sectors of the economy, but mainly in the above-mentioned three. Since 2022, we have signed agreements with chambers of commerce and industry in several countries, such as Vietnam, and Zambia. We have visited Pakistan, Morocco, Kinshasa in Congo, and Portugal to attract to generate interest. Those are markets that our products could be exported to.

How has the regularization of the informal market been developing?

We are carrying out a study to assess the impact on the country’s productivity, considering the weight of the informal sector in productivity. The study is being carried out with the support of the International Labor Organization (ILO), and we are looking to mandate a specialist to conduct it. After that, we will work with the Ministry of Economy and Planning to evaluate the findings, to gauge how many companies have migrated from the informal to the formal sector. It is vitally important to maintain those that are migrating to the formal sector, which is not easy.

What is the role of the Chamber in technology services?

We are trying to expand our training center with new courses, including our information technology course through which we intend to inculcate a wider understanding of its economic potential. In addition, we stage lectures and workshops on commercial issues, including those pertaining to the protection of human resources.

What events are you involved in?

We’ve held many events to date. We participated in a meeting in Kinshasa, the one resulting in the creation of the first self-council of business in Central Africa, where I was elected on behalf of the Chamber to chair the commission for agriculture, livestock, fisheries, and the environment. We were elected vice-president of the CPLP business confederation, that is, the Portuguese-speaking countries. I was nominated to chair the African micro and small business clusters Business Council in 2023. I also participated at the UN conference in Qatar on the least developed countries. 2023 has already been an active year in terms of participation in events, with more to come.

SMEs are an important component of the business community in Angola. What initiatives is the CCIA undertaking to promote their development?

Micro, small, and medium-sized companies (MSMEs) are a great factor in the development and growth of the country. Not just our country, but all less developed markets. There are many obstacles preventing this class of entrepreneurs from developing and operating efficiently. The problem is access to credit, both the relations with the banking universe and brand orientation. The Chamber, therefore, intends to hold lectures and training courses to educate these entrepreneurs and provide training on financial education, especially in partnership with the National Bank of Angola. We have members that are banks, such as the BFA, BPC, and VTB. There are many companies and simply listening to government recommendations is not enough to meet the huge demand. There is a need for private banks and other financial institutions to be able to help increase the participation of MSMEs in this growth process, which depends heavily on the available financial resources, as well as human resources. And that is why we are talking about this training of entrepreneurs so that they can better understand the environment they live in.

What is your vision for the future of Angola’s business community?

There is a bright future ahead, but one that depends a lot on the work that must be carried out today. When we think of developed markets, it is somewhat difficult to identify new business opportunities, but in Angola, in contrast, everything is an opportunity. The problem is access to the means necessary to seize and realize these opportunities. There is still much work that needs to be done at all levels and by all institutions. The private sector needs to be more organized, the government also has an important role to play in the process to provide the necessary conditions for the development of the private sector.

What perception would you like the world to have of Angola?

The perception we want to transmit of Angola internationally is that this is a promising country to do business, and to make investments. Angola has potential thanks to its mineral resources and highly arable land. The government programs offer numerous incentives to investors in various regions of the country. Meanwhile, Angola’s business environment is growing and improving. This is a job being done in step by institutions, chambers of commerce, and the government. The main elements of economic diversification have much to do with the country’s infrastructure, that is, roads, electricity, water, and technology, which are witnessing development despite prevailing challenges, and there is a constructive improvement in Angola in evidence.

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