Developing Angola After Oil: Interview With The CEO Of An Investment Capital Firm

Developing Angola After Oil: Interview With The CEO Of An Investment Capital Firm

Business opportunities in Angola other than oil are starting to get more attention — a necessity triggered by the country’s over dependence on crude coupled with sliding global commodities prices.

In October 2015, the Angolan Ministry of Finance reported that income from oil exports had fallen by 44 percent, according to MakaAngola.

“We should be focusing on the future and not on the past,” said attorney Zandre Campos, 36.

An Angola native, Campos quit his job with Sonangol, Angola’s giant state oil company, and started a private international investment firm.

Campos worked in the legal department of Sonangol. It was an excellent company, he said in an interview with AFKInsider. But even so, “it didn’t have the dimension I needed,” Campos said. “Angola is so big. There’s so much to be explored. That’s the reason I started to look for other opportunities.”

Campos left Sonangol 10 years ago, went into management, and four years ago started Angola Capital Investments with four colleagues. He’s now the company’s CEO.

A private international investment firm, Angola Capital invests in companies throughout Africa in healthcare, energy, transportation, hospitality, and real estate.

Campos formed the company with four colleagues.

Educated on three continents, Campos’s early years helped give him the perspective he needed to run an international company.

His mother was an accountant for Italian multinational oil and gas company ENI. Her work took the family all over the world. ENI has been in Angola since the 1970s.

Campos started first grade in Cuba, spent six years in the U.S. — including high school — and attended college in Portugal.

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During Angola’s 28-year civil war, young kids were dropped on the front lines without military preparation, Campos said. The war ended in 2002. “I was a little luckier than the others,” he said.

Now that Angola can no longer count on oil as much as it did in the past, “our mission is more important,” Campos said.

“Oil going down means all the other opportunities are going up. Oil is important but it doesn’t mean that it’s everything. Angola has around 1060 kilometers of beaches and all the minerals.”

Angola Capital Investments has offices in Luanda with more planned in the U.S. (New York,) Portugal and Dubai, Campos told AFKInsider.

Angola has begun legal and institutional reforms linked to private investment, according to Angolan Trade Minister Rosa Pacavira, AngolaPress reported.

You no longer need a minimum $1 million US dollars to invest in Angola — a requirement that slowed down investment in the country, according to an earlier AFKInsider report. Micro, small and medium companies are being encouraged to invest.

Getting rid of the $1 million requirement doesn’t change things much for Angolan companies, “but it’s a very important indicator for the country,” Campos said.”It releases the pressure and opens the market.” And in certain sectors — electricity, water, hotels, telecoms, construction and transport — the only requirement is that you have to have an Angolan partner, Campos said.

According to new reforms, entrepreneurs will have greater protection and guarantees. Doing business in Angola will be faster. Ministries are now authorized to approve investments up to $10 million, whereas before, only the president had that authority.

“My company was built with the idea of bringing the excellence of the world to Africa,” Campos said. “What we want to do is participate in the future of this continent. We’re talking about international standards.”

While the minimum investment requirement is gone, “you have to have quality in investment,” Campose said. “You have to understand the difficulties of the continent to see the future. What we’re looking for are serious investors.”

The health sector is one of the most important areas of investment for Angola Capital Investments.

“It represents one of the most important needs in Africa,” Campos said. “The lack of investment in the sector is a big concern for us. We just came out of Ebola. It was a nightmare. It’s incredible how those kinds of diseases can reach those levels.”

Angola Capital has investments and interests worth around $100 million US in six or seven companies.

One of them is Barcelona-based Sphera, a health technology company. Angola Capital Investments is a major shareholder with 30 percent ownership in a company that Campos said wants to democratize health care services. This includes telemedicine that provides access to services in clinics all over Africa — mostly in rural areas.

Angola Capital also has an investment in hospitality management company Bluoshen, including five hotels in Luanda and two in Benguela, 530 kilometers south of the capital. “I think tourism is one of the potentials of our country,” Campos said.

Another projects is ETG, a Tanzania-based agricultural supply chain group that’s one of biggest in the sector.  “We have an agreement with them to invest in Anogla,” Campos said. ETG Angola is being built.

Forty years ago, Angola was one of Africa’s top coffee and cotton exporters. Not any more. “We want to revive the glory era and bring back the country to those types of services,” Campos said. “We’re fine tuning the best cultures needed. The trading purpose is to export.”

In a CEOWorld guest column, Campos said investors increase their chance of success when they work with a local partner, put some skin in the game beyond capital, and invest in projects that meet the growing local needs of local populations.

How does someone put skin in the game when they invest in Angola Capital Investments? Here’s what Campos told AFKInsider:

“It doesn’t need only to be us with whom they’re investing,” Campos said. “There are several important players in the market.

“We don’t really need only money. We don’t only need investments on paper that would cross the Atlantic. We need the emotion, we need the goals, we need the compromise, we need the souls. That has to be there to make the difference.

“Most of our investors are local Angolans — young guys like us,” Campos said. “Our partners are all Angolans who worked together and struggled together for a long time. Some were in college at the same time. We say we’re a group of friends with common interests. We aren’t a startup. We have some operations, but we’re still at the beginning of a long trip. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in this country.”

What does Campos say to investors who may be interested in doing business in Angola but think that President dos Santos and his daughter Isabel are corrupt?

“I can’t comment on those types of views but what I believe is that Angola is going to be here in 10 years, 20, 50, 100 years,” Campos told AFKInsider. “It has 20.5 million inhabitants and lots of opportunities. Our citizens can make the changes and improve. What we’re here to do is focus on solutions, not problems.”