Saturday, August 22, 2009



Fri Aug 21, 2009
By Henrique Almeida


Angolan and South African businesses urged an end to visa restrictions they say are damaging economic ties between South Africa, the continent's largest economy, and one of Africa's biggest oil producers.

The often laborious process of obtaining visas is considered a significant barrier to travelling between the two countries and a stumbling block for business and trade. A work visa for Angola can sometimes take more than a year to process.

"The free movement of business people between the countries is a necessary pre-condition for the growth of the economic partnership," the Angolan Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Unity of South Africa said on Friday.

During South African President Jacob Zuma's two-day trip to Angola, which ends on Friday, both nations signed six accords to cooperate in areas ranging from aviation to trade, but failed to scrap visa requirements.

"Angolan and South African business urges both governments to address the visa concerns expressed during the business forum," the two business groups added in the statement.

More than 150 South Africans delegates representing nearly 120 companies met their Angolan counterparts in Luanda on Thursday in what Zuma billed as the "biggest business delegation to take part in a state visit since the end of apartheid".

Zuma, closer to Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos than former South African President Thabo Mbeki, said in a speech on Thursday he would help open the doors to the Angolan market where opportunities in the oil sector abound.


"As Africa's largest economy South Africa is in a position to be of benefit to Africa's largest oil producer," Zuma told Angolan and South African business leaders late on Thursday.

Angolan state-owned oil firm Sonangol and the Petroleum Oil and Gas Corporation of South Africa (PetroSA) are expected to meet soon to discuss ways to work together, according to dos Santos, who did not elaborate.

"Huge opportunities still remain in the petroleum and gas sectors in Angola with 28 of the 51 concessions offshore still to be licensed and explorations under way offshore," the two business groups said. Continued...Africa's biggest economy has been sidelined from Angola for decades as lucrative oil contracts were awarded to U.S. and European oil companies such as Chevron (CVX.N) and BP (BP.L). Roads, bridges and dams destroyed by the 1975-2002 civil war have been rebuilt by Chinese, Brazilian and Portuguese firms.

The two nations are also looking for investment opportunities in the mining, agriculture, transport, tourism and banking sectors. Standard Bank's (SBKJ.J) chief executive for Africa told Reuters he would soon open a branch in Luanda.

Angola emerged from an almost three-decade civil war in 2002 to rival Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer while South Africa has little oil and relies on coal for most of its energy needs.

In 2007, South Africa exports to Angola amounted to 6 billion rand ($753.5 million) whilst Angolan exports to South Africa amounted to 12 billion rand, according to Zuma. Almost 90 percent of Angola's exports were petroleum products.