Over the past few years, the level of growth of Angola’s economy has plummeted but the country’s potential has continued to attract investors. The growth of the economy, which is still largely based on natural resources, was reflected in the fall in the price of oil. The country depended so much on oil, which slowed down its development.
Up until 1975, when Angola gained independence from Portugal, it had a thriving agricultural sector. It produced various crops in large quantities such as cotton, cocoa, and palm oil. The country was also one of the world’s foremost exporters of coffee. After its independence, Angola was faced with three decades of civil war which destroyed a lot of its infrastructure. According to reports, the civil war and mine-clearing activities in Angolan territory delayed investment in the farming sector, but Angola’s potential has always been remarkable. The government has also committed itself to diversify the economy, with agriculture as one of the focus areas.
Currently, the country is estimated to have 35 million hectares of arable land. In spite of these large hectares of land more than half of the food products consumed by the Angolan population are imported. The farming sector only accounts for about 11 percent of the country’s GDP. Angola still holds a considerable huge potential for agribusiness and the country can reach its potential with the help of the private sector. Due to the huge potential in the Angolan agricultural sector, and need to develop the country after decades of war, several agricultural focused businesses have sprung up in the country one of such is the Cochan Group.
According to Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento, Chairman of the Cochan Group Management Board, there are several opportunities in the challenges facing the Angolan agricultural sector and farming is an essential pillar of the country’s development. The group, whose projects are focused mainly in Angola, has recorded a lot of success stories in Angola most especially in its branch of farming business know as Biocom.
Why is Cochan Group in the forefront of investments in Angola?
According to Mário Lourenço, CEO of Cochan, when Leopoldino Fragoso do Nascimento founded this Group, in 2009, the aim was to invest in the different aspect of the economy. They believe that it is their responsibility to contribute to the diversification of the Angolan economy, and that this transition is key to strengthening the internal market, improving the lives of Angolans and developing the country. Oil is indispensable – especially since in 2016 Angola became the leading African country in the production of this fuel – but this was only the beginning of Cochan’s work.
How does Cochan Group stand out in Angola?
For instance, Biocom, a Cochan’s investment, is the first Angolan company to produce and commercialize sugar, ethanol, and electricity from biomass. This was made possible as a result of a large investment made in cutting-edge technology. Currently, the planting and harvesting of sugarcane are fully mechanized, and the facility is self-sufficient in terms of power – the excess is commercialized in the national electricity system. The employees receive training all year round.
In 2015, we were able to save the country 25 million dollars in sugar imports. In the 2020/21 harvest, Biocom is expected to be one of the top five producers in southern Africa. The evolution of the project is therefore clearly positive and the forecasts for future production are very encouraging for us.
However, it is worthy to note that Biocom is not the only investment of the Cochan Group committed to the agricultural sector. Cochan also has a participation in DT Agro, which is another investment that aims to be the largest passion fruit producer in the country. The company has a 100-hectare farm built in Catumbela, used for growing only grows bananas, the water used to irrigate the land is transported via a nine kilometers canal, which was remodeled for the farm and the local communities. Presently, about 700 families benefit from the cultivation of the irrigated land, either by consume the products or by selling in the market.
In 2010, another Cochan’s investment (through its participation in Zahara Group) also became pioneer in the distribution branch, by launching a local, nationwide brand known as the Kero project. Since the first store opened in 2010, it has attracted interest from consumers and become the number-one choice for many people. They currently have 12 stores and more than 8,000 employees (more than 90 percent of whom are Angolan nationals), and they are making plans to open four more stores by the end of the year.
“There are new projects in the country’s retail sector and more will certainly open up, but the Kero brand is established on the market and it aims to keep evolving and growing, adapting itself to the customer, who it knows so well,” said Mário Lourenço, CEO of Cochan.