Is Angola Poised to Become Africa’s Logistics Hub?

To help diversify the economy, the Angolan Regulatory Agency for Cargo Certification and Logistics (ARCCLA) oversees implementation of the country’s logistics network projects.

In this interview with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor, Catarino Fontes Pereira, president of ARCCLA’s board of directors spoke about the potential for current projects to foster national and regional economic development.

Why did you send some of your staff to the training organized by UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)

We have the responsibility to regulate and supervise logistics in Angola. Through our Ministry of Transport, UNCTAD assists in training Angolans, including young people. We must develop the capacities of our staff so that they can perform more efficiently.

As you know, ARCCLA is a very young institution. We need a certain level of knowledge on, for example, how to conduct PPP (Public private partnerships) [public-private partnership] processes. Our staff must understand important variables in structuring a project.

UNCTAD has extensive knowledge about logistics around the world, especially in Africa, and so we needed it to help us as we took the first steps in project execution. So, the team learned some important concepts.

Have they started applying those concepts in their work?

Yes. One of the concepts we learned was risk sharing. In setting up PPP projects, we must understand how to share the risks involved. We represent the government, and our partner may represent a concessionaire, and so we must share the risks.

Another concept was project viability. We must understand how to conduct studies that make a project feasible for international institutions like the World Bank, the International Monetary Fuhd and others.

Do you intend to organize more training for your team?

Of course! Capacity building should be a continuous process. The development of any institution depends especially on human capital. When people are well-instructed and well-capacitated, they develop our institution. As an institution created a few years ago, we need to learn, grow and reach the level that we intend to reach. Therefore, we must be very well-prepared.

We are on our way to being a logistics hub, with the support of organizations like UNCTAD.

What is your ideal situation for logistics in Angola?

We are striving to reach an acceptable level. The level of interoperability of our logistics is not yet stable among members of the logistics chain. Many elements are missing. We must bring the operators together for them to understand their role and the role of the government.

When we harmonize and synchronize our work, Angola will have an acceptable level of logistics.

How soon? Next year? 2025? 2030?

As soon as possible. We think that, in 2025, we can reach a level that is significantly better than where we are today.

Do you coordinate logistics with your counterparts in other countries, particularly neighboring countries?

At the continental and subregional levels, we are working together. We are a member of the Union of African Shippers’ Councils, an African institution where we share trading information and discuss strategies for developing logistics in Africa., an African institution where we share trading information and discuss strategies for developing logistics in Africa.

Angola is also a signatory to the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), and we constantly discuss with other countries areas of collaboration on free trade.

In your conversations with representatives of other countries, do you sense momentum in developing the infrastructure needed to accelerate the operationalisation of the AfCFTA?

Yes, and we have good examples. Senegal, for one, has developed its ports to a very high level. Ethiopia is doing a lot in logistics development and organization. South Africa is constructing massive infrastructure. In Angola, we just inaugurated a new airport that will make us logistics hub, not only within Africa but also for connecting Africa with Asia and South America.

What logistics systems are you specifically talking about?

They include infrastructure to bring produce from the big farms. We must have the capacity to transport products from the countryside to a storage facility. We must have the ability to conduct phytosanitary inspections so that we can prepare these products for export and the domestic market.

How does improved infrastructure support Angolan entrepreneurs?

We have a strategic programme for developing logistic infrastructures in Angola. Considering our needs, we identified six strategic locations.

Two are in the northern region. The first is in Luvo, where we share a border with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Luvo holds significance because of its high level of trade.

The second is in Soyo, a major oil hub in Zaire Province. We need logistic infrastructure because of the new oil refinery in Zaire Province.

We have a strategic programmed for developing logistic infrastructures in Angola.

The third and fourth are the Lobito Corridor and Caála in the Huambo Province, the main hub for agriculture in Angola.

The fifth is Luau, on the western border between Angola and the DRC.

Lastly, the sixth is Arimba in Huila Province, strategically positioned to facilitate the export of ornamental stones such as marble and granite.

So, when these six logistics locations are working effectively, we can say that Angola has an organized logistics operation. We are on our way to being a logistics hub, with the support of organizations like UNCTAD, we will get there!

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