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Helder Jose, Director General IPGUL

Interview - November 24, 2011
IPGUL is conduction urban planning to rationalize and optimize Luanda’s rapid growth
To start the interview we would like to know your comments on the current moment Angola is experiencing after the 2002 Peace Treaty: all the successes it has achieved. What do you think was the key factor in the success Angola is benefiting and what is your vision for the future?

The key to success was the Peace Treaty of 2002; Angolans understood that there was a way to become a new society. People understood that it was possible to achieve successes through other ways than war.
There was a need to reconstruct Angola and to build the necessary infrastructure to make it possible. A big exercise was done to organize the channels of communication in order to help with the country’s development.
Very recently President Dos Santos opened the train line from Benguela to Huambo (a transnational line that reaches Tanzania) and which had not been operative for 25 years.
A big effort is being done as well in the transport sector: ports and airports along with their modernization are being developed.
A big issue is urbanization; before the war most of the money was dedicated to warfare sustainability, therefore, when the Peace Treaty took place, this financial budget was transferred to urbanization. Currently nearly 750 buildings are being constructed as well as the new city of Cacuaco  and Talatona in the outskirts of Luanda.
Many of these transformations could only take place after Peace was achieved, that way Angola could be seen as a developed country which can help the world in resolving many problems.

Could you introduce us to IPGUL, its projects and its evolution after its creation 4 years ago?

IPGUL was created in 2007, and at the beginning I was another member of the Board of Directors. In 2008 we started to work on a group of urban planning and technological databases which would help us to develop the city’s growth in a more orderly fashion. To achieve that big success we had to create the necessary technical and professional conditions to have the statistical information in order to have a realistic view of Luanda.
We started to do an inventory with geo-referenced databases where all the information related to tourism, health, schools, churches and markets are exactly established in their exact locations. To help us with this work we were assisted by young engineers just out from college. In addition, we had the information of some specialized companies which would help us in order to get the best treatment of territorial information.

A great deal of urban planning in Luanda was made both by private agents as well as the Government but with no homogenization, there was a need to unify its efforts to achieve a reasonable structure. One of these objectives was to bring together land promoters and constructors to help unify the urban planning. For example, we put together the project of modernization of the Marginal in Luanda and the project of the requalification of La Ilha. In addition, we studied the project of Praia do Bispo which had to be reorganized among three constructors to find harmonization. Today we feel the result has been very positive.
All these plans made us think that a Provincial Director was needed to help the increasing growth of the city. After the Provincial Director was appointed, a new phase of deciding among technical public tenders began to help with the planning of the city, taking into account such important issues as human mobility.

Nowadays a big effort is being made to modernize the streets which had to be re adapted to the needs of Luanda’s development.
A lot of efforts have been made, but there is a long way ahead of us: we have to develop the industry of public transportation so that the citizens of Luanda do not need to use their cars and so the problem of traffic jams can be solved. Not only for land transportation but for maritime transportation, nevertheless projects in this sense are being developed.
The urban development and planning has to be studied in a serious and harmonized manner, parking areas must be developed as well as areas for pedestrians; very probably in some time we will be able to see good results.
What importance does IPGUL place on its human resources and how is it evolving to better its teams?
Would you be interested in an exchange with the German Community, the pioneers of development and of engineering and are seen worldwide as the leaders of technological advances?

I believe that the help from more developed communities will always be welcomed in every area, not only in urban planning, especially if their technological capacities stay in Angola and so help the development of our national human resources. In Angola we had many positive experiences with Germany; I even had German teachers in school. I would personally love to see Luanda with the same public transportation as Berlin.

Considering the importance Germany has in terms of technology and civil construction, as well as know-how, being able to help IPGUL to develop its urban plans, what message would you like to send the German Community interested in investing in Angola?

The first thing I would tell them is to come visit Angola because many foreigners think we still live in trees!
Angola was conquered long time ago by the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, etc, having experienced a lot of influence and exchange of cultures between our lands. Technology and science was developed as well in Angola in recent years. Getting to know Angola, there would be more trade and less aid being able to help the development of our country. Afterwards, an operative plan would be easier to implement as well as to help bringing in investment partners in terms of increasing development.

As the key figure leading IPGUL, a very important institution for the image and development in Luanda, how do you foresee its development in 10 years and how do you think the industrial areas, such as the ZEE, are going to develop?

The ZEE of Viana is developing and needs to consolidate its influence and importance; this will take place throughout its work force and human resources which are already developing around the area. Other Industrial areas are being constructed, for example in Cacuaco, and in other places the agro-industrial sector will help them develop.

What message would you like to give our investment Community in Germany?

IPGUL has many plans: not only in the internal level but as well in planning a new model of structure in the city; these plans need to be communicated to the people through good communication campaigns; this will help to build a new mentality in relation to the scientific and academic areas. Helping to build around the past, creating the new present, working towards the future.
IPGUL is a very technical institution which is in search of technology; therefore it can be influenced in many aspects such as architecture and construction. Luanda is a barometer of experience: in this city everything has been tried, things that in Europe are not used anymore in Luanda are still operative.

Sometimes building in a postwar period creates problems; the same happened in Europe too, social evolution erases the models which are no longer good for use. We had a similar problem in Angola where we wanted to build everything that had not been able to build during 35 years of war which created some problems which have to be solved. It would be awesome that taking into account the good relations we have with Europe, and particularly with Germany, would be positive in the sense that being more experienced in many areas, we could anticipate problems that they have experienced and having their knowledge, know-how and technology transferred between our two political communities would definitely help our country and our people.