Sep. 1, 2021


António Henriques Da Silva

Angola

António Henriques Da Silva

President , Agency for Private Investment and Export Promotion (AIPEX)

"We have, as a mission, the diversification of the economy."

BIO

António Henriques Da Silva is a senior executive with more than 22 years of experience in various sectors of private and public business activity. Before his current position, he was active as an entrepreneur in the private sector, creating several start-ups. Before that, he was president of the board of directors at Angola Public Television.


AIPEX was founded in 2018 after the merger of UTIP and APIEX. What are its mission and vision?

We have, as a mission, the diversification of the economy. That is, to increase the participation in our economy of the non-oil private sector. Considering the country's potential, by doing so, we will be able to take full advantage of it. We are also entitled to ensure the development of the private sector and through it, the internationalization of Angolan companies. On the other hand, AIPEX focuses on creating the right conditions to attract foreign direct investment to the country, either from abroad and from local investors. Of course, we do not act alone; we are part of an ecosystem. We go hand in hand with other departments of the public administration. In order to play a smoother role, we have created the investor gateway, which is a set of conditions, procedures and activities that are meant to assist investors and the business environment as a whole. In that sense, Angola has also reviewed its fiscal benefits policy in order to be more competitive when attracting investors. A new contractual regime was put in place that gives the opportunity to an investor to negotiate with the government, or through AIPEX, the set of fiscal incentives applicable to a certain project.

What are AIPEX's main strategies to attract FDI in 2022?

First of all, we had to perform an introspective analysis of where we stand so far and assess our weaknesses and strengths so that we can redesign our actions. Despite the pandemic, we were able to achieve our goals responding to this anomalous situation. We introduced new procedures in dealing with investors, we moved to a more digitalized working environment relying increasingly on ICT tools. The efficiency, accessibility and availability of those ICT tools, not only internally, but in our relationships with foreign investors has enabled us to improve the operational capacity of our agency. As a result, we are now able to respond to the registration of a new investment initiative in not more than three days. Beyond that, our investment attraction actions are generally based on directly approaching the investor, being pro-active and identifying suitable investors for national priority sectors. By being successful in bringing those key investors into the value chains in Angola we are, then, able to develop that value chain by promoting the local private sector. That definitely results in more employment creation and development of skills. Angola has a young population on average, and if we look at that potential in terms of growth, consumer base and opportunities the country has huge potential that we need to address.

How is AIPEX supporting local small and medium enterprises to achieve a solid diversification of the economy?

The government has put together a program called PRODESI and we have defined a set of products considered as priorities for the program. Of course, the role that needs to be played by SMEs and entrepreneurs is crucial for the diversification of the economy. Many countries rely a lot on SMEs playing key roles in the success of government policies. Angola is no exception, and besides the creation of the right legal policies and terms, we are also empowering the private sector and especially, the SMEs in such a way that they can compete and add value to the economy. They are definitely one of the priorities. They need financial support and skills and these key elements are part of the strategy, and through organizations other than AIPEX they are able to address those challenges. Of course, we cannot say that we 100% cover all the needs of the market, but progressively we believe that with the results that are to be achieved we will be able to consolidate our own practices and also the expected results.

Speaking about diversification, the agricultural sector may play a prominent role in the future. What do you think can be done in order to increase its productivity?

On one hand, we recognize the potential of Angola in terms of the existence of arable land. We have over 35 million ha of arable land. We still have a high dependence on the exterior, importing around 1.5 billion tons of food per year, which needs to change. We have the capacity to produce a variety of crops that are even considerable enough to export. We have the conditions to do so, but we still need to attract investment in fertilizer plants and improve the quality of our soil, so that production capacities are increased. We have around 35 million ha that is equivalent to 28% of our country's land surface, and yet only 5 million ha are in use today, so there is huge growth potential.

Angola possesses incredible touristic potential. Now that the economy is restarting after the COVID-19 pandemic. How can it become a notable player in the tourism sector over the coming years?

The tourism sector is one of the priorities defined within the government's diversification strategy. We can position ourselves advantageously compared to other neighboring countries. Angola may have similar offerings in terms of tourist destination but it has the coastal aspect, too. Of course, there is a challenge in terms of infrastructure, but the government is on the way to implementing projects in the infrastructure sector with new airports and so forth. Aside from the new international airport of Luanda, there are eight other international airports. We also have deep water ports. We want to transform Angola into a corridor that connects the coastal region to the interior.

What are your goals and expectations for the year ahead?

Our expectations are aligned with those of the country. The government has defined a very clear path as to how Angola's diversification should progress. So, under the current conditions, we need to attract investment, change mindsets, and challenge investors to visit and commit to investing in Angola, based on the reforms and sheer opportunities available. Changing impressions is not an easy task, and AIPEX needs to instill positive impressions and be able to convince through results. Investors are coming, but the country needs much more, and we hope that with the conclusion of the pandemic, opportunities will grow not only for Angola, but for everyone.

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