ZIMTRADE, the country's trade and export promotion body, has challenged companies in the country to take advantage of Angola's import-dependency by venturing into that country's market. Angola imports about US$20,5 billion worth of goods and services per annum. The country, a former Portuguese colony affected by civil war from 1975 to 2002, is mainly dependant on oil and minerals.
Angola is the second largest producer of oil in Africa after Nigeria and also comes third on the continent in terms of diamond production. Its construction industry is now booming after years of stagnation and the country has huge water bodies to generate electricity but these remain largely unexploited.
Speaking at a breakfast meeting on trade and investment opportunities in Angola in Bulawayo recently, managing director for Africa Corporate Affairs Advisors, Mike Nyamazana, said the post war reconstruction period which Angola is going through was making the Southern African country an attractive trade and investment destination. "Angola is a US$120 billion economy with political and economic stability together with investor-friendly policies," said Nyamazana.
"Almost 90 percent of the goods used in the country are imported and major imports include food stuffs, consumer goods, capital goods, machinery and vehicles among others. This presents an opportunity for Zimbabwe to supply some of the requirements as it has a distance advantage. All we are saying is we want a percentage of that market," said Nyamazana.
Nyamazana said the retail sector was booming, adding there was an opportunity for Zimbabwean companies to supply products to established operators. "It is critical that the exporter, who seeks to do so, establishes contacts with the likes of ShopRite which has shown an active interest in Zimbabwean meat, fresh produce, dairy products, fortified milk, fruit juice and cordials," Nyamazana said. He said a huge long-term opportunity existed for maize meal in Angola, urging private millers and the Grain Marketing Board to take advantage of that.
"Currently Angola is importing (maize meal) from Namibia. As an example, a 30 tonne truck at ShopRite does not last a week when received. There was not a single bag of maize meal during the two-week survey," said Nyamazana. He said the huge demand for maize meal in that country could be an opportunity for Zimbabwe to revive maize production by providing much needed effective demand.
ZimTrade Small to Medium Enterprises export development manager, Allan Majuru, said the Angolan economy was relatively stable. He said with the country going through an economic transformational process, policies and business factors were changing fast. "The middle class is growing, creating an increase in demand; that alone is potential buying power," he said.
Angola has an estimated population of 20,9 million people. Nyamazana said it was important for Zimbabwean companies to also take advantage of the cordial relations that exist between Zimbabwe and Angola. He said: "Angola Industrial Association is willing to sign an MoU with a Zimbabwean business representative body. Currently they have a 20 000 square metre warehouse in the port of Benguela which they are prepared to lease out to Zimbabwean companies willing to do business in the country."