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“My role is to stimulate investment”

Interview - July 31, 2014
“I advise (investors) to come here, because it is better to come and see it once than listen about it a hundred times. We have spectacular opportunities for willing investors” GENERAL HIGINIO LOPES CARNEIRO Governor of Cuando Cubango
What are the most important projects undertaken by the Provincial Government?

The first step upon taking charge here two years ago was to run a diagnostics check against the development plan for the province and, based on that, we have been working to propel forward projects that have fallen back and prioritize the use of our funding.

The most important projects currently are those related to education, health, water treatment and the supply of electricity.
Up until 2016, I intend to see the problems in the health sector solved with the construction and rehabilitation of efficient hospitals at communal, municipal and provincial levels.

With regard to electricity, this year we intend to solve the issues around Mavinga and Rivungo important townships for us, and I expect that, by 2017, we may also solve all the basic issues inherent to these key social infrastructures.

One issue that still concerns me has to do with the road infrastructure, because we are an inland province our connectivity and logistical infrastructure is crucial to attracting business to this province. Today, we want to build approximately 4,000 kilometers of roads until 2017, and the last two years represented a great economic revolution for the province.

How is Cuando Cubango attracting investment?

There is a large scale project scheduled for the next seven years from now and which will start in 2014, with the goal of feeding Angola from Cuando Cubango. This agricultural master plan has already attracted investment interest and commitment from a French-Swiss-Angolan group, in addition within this master plan there are many other projects that I have been authorizing in the field of cereal production, meat production, etc.

My role as Governor here is always to stimulate and facilitate investment, no matter where it comes from, and never stand in its way. To the investors that have not been able to visit here, I advise them to come because it is better to come and see it once than listening about it a hundred times. We have spectacular opportunities for willing investors. There are investors creating spectacular tourism projects, there is the Ritz Group that is building four hotel complexes here, and there is another tourism project at Cuito Cuanavale. We have successful projects in tourism like the Rio Cunene lodge and they all have the full support of the Government and any assistance required.

Assess the competitiveness of the Angolan economy and challenges of domestic production.

Making domestic production more competitive is one of the key challenges of this government. We currently have a new set of customs laws coming into effect which grant national industry priority however this just allows us time to create a viable and competitive national production to provide import substitution options. We need to increase domestic production, especially in terms of agricultural inputs such as fertilizers. It may still take a while, but we intend to create the internal conditions to support national agriculture so that it may become more competitive. We want to make our products price competitive but we also are aware that we must try to drive down the costs of production such as energy and logistics costs.

Where possible we also have looked at facilitating trade with our regional neighbors through the provision of excellent customs facilities. We will continue to work to this end to create industry and employment here at home.

How would you describe Angola and Angolans to the outside world?

First, I would take the character of the Angolan people, easy-going, amiable people who are always ready to collaborate with others so that, together, they can develop. We are a country that cannot be compared to other African countries; we have our own individual traits. We are sometimes accused by our African brethren of displaying too many European tendencies, when in fact we are merely adaptable to the context of globalization. Among the states, there are no friends; there are interests, and therefore we must know how to frame our interests within the global context, as long as there is respect for our development and for our territory, we are ready to work together.

What are the keys to being a successful Governor?
I was lucky to possess a lot of knowledge from my previous positions in government and also from the life experience that I have. I have served in public as a Governor previously in Kwanza Sul and also as Minister of Territorial Administration; I was able to bring skills developed from my time in the Armed Forces, I am a General and have even been military commander from 1977 to 1979; and I was Minister of Public Works for almost 11 years—I was the one who directly promoted the entire development of construction throughout the country. As I was saying, throughout my life, I was able to collect capacities that I am now able to put into the service of developing Cuando Cubango

What is the most satisfying aspect of your work as Governor?

In reality, I wanted to be an agronomist. So much so that one of my first training programs was a technical course—a bachelor’s in agronomics—but when the revolutionary stage against the Portuguese colonization began, the circumstances of the times led me to set aside the dream of being an agronomist in order to serve my country. Now later in life I am returning to my roots as a developer of the land of Angola and while it may not be as hands on as I thought in my youth I see now how I am impacting the lives of so many people within the province and that is the most satisfying thing to me.