Angola’s Luanda-Bengo Special Economic Zone (ZEE) has shown remarkable growth over the last few years. The country’s only Special Economic Zone plays a vital role in attracting domestic and foreign investment and encouraging the development and diversification of the Angolan economy.
The Chairman of the Board of Directors of the ZEE, António Henriques da Silva, announced that over the 12 years, projects at the ZEE generated more than 6 000 jobs, mainly for local citizens. He explained the breakdown of businesses currently at the ZEE saying, “We currently have 132 industrial and commercial projects, 75 of which are fully operational, 11 in the process of restructuring, seven are waiting on the completion of the privatization process, one is ready to start production, 18 projects are in the construction phase and 20 are in the process of implementing projects.”
The ZEE has also played a big role in reducing the number of imports to Angola while also increasing exports and attracting foreign investment. Over the last year, the ZEE has shown a sizeable increase in production growth, as various investment projects from Germany, Eritrea, India, Rwanda, Lebanon and Angola were approved for implementation. These projects represent an investment worth around one billion euros over the last three years.
Over the last 3 years (2018 -2020) the ZEE had positive results for the first time, and this enabled the distribution of dividends to its only shareholder, the State, since it was created in 2009. This is according to reports submitted by the ZEE to IGAPE, the state entity responsible for monitoring the activity carried out by the public business sector.
Da Silva said, “The 2021 results are not yet public, but our forecasts point to a positive performance as in the last 3 years, despite the economic and health crisis caused by COVID-19. In terms of projects, the Board of Directors approved 19 new projects in 2021, with a forecast of creating around 3984 new jobs, 3947 for nationals and 37 for foreigners, with projected investments above US $1 billion. The new projects will contribute to the diversification of the economy in several sectors, mainly food, detergents, electrical equipment, the construction industry and others. “
Da Silva is also the Executive Chairman of the Board of Directors at the Agency for Private Investment and Export Promotion of Angola (AIPEX) which works closely with the ZEE in promoting investment opportunities in Angola. He explained the ZEE’s goal of becoming a “benchmark in sub-Saharan Africa”, all while providing entrepreneurs with high-quality services that enable an excellent business environment, with modern, flexible and non-bureaucratic business practices.”
As part of the organization’sefforts to attract more international investments and businesses to the ZEE, da Silva was also responsible for last year’s launch of the Gabinete de Apoio ao Investidor (GAI), or Investor Support Office (ISO) which facilitates investor entry into the Angolan market for any business. This Investor Support Office eliminates bureaucratic obstacles, eases the registration process and provides access to integrated public services within the zone’s business environment.
The ZEE currently hosts a wide variety of business ventures in various industries like the food, manufacturing and construction sectors.
The Angolan government has also added several measures to help improve the country’s business climate and attract foreign direct investment by implementing various new business-friendly laws.
• The Private Investment Law, approved in June 2018, reduces the minimum capital requirement, facilitates repatriating capital, and eradicates the requirement that local investors have a 35% stake. Now investors, foreigners or not, have the same right of access to incentives.
• The Competition Law, enacted in May 2018, regulates private enterprises, cooperatives, and state-owned companies, and reflects the tenets of international commercial law.
• The Privatization Law, which has been hailed across Africa for its forward-thinking, was enacted in May 2019. It is one of the most significant actions to attract private investment, especially foreign direct investment. In 2019 the country launched a privatization programme called PROPIV which involves the privatization of 195 assets held directly or indirectly by the Angolan state by 2022. The assets to be privatized are of various types and sizes and cover a large number of sectors.