At the time of going to press, the private investment group, K2L Capital, was gearing for the opening of the Aceria de Angola (ADA), the first mass-producing steel mill in the central and Southern African region. reGina Jane Jere caught up with the company’s Chairman and CEO of K2L, Georges Choucair to find out more about the ambitious project.
Apart from its renowned oil and gas industry, the construction and infrastructure sectors are the other two fastest growing industries in Angola. A post-conflict Angola has witnessed one of Africa’s largest housing and construction development surges, and as such the country is one of the biggest consumers of steel in the world today.
K2L capital, one of the largest private investment companies in central and western Africa, understands the need to fill the gap.
“I have been working in Angola for a while now and I know the market well, I started from importation and distribution of steel, but now we have decided to move to the production. We had this visionary idea back in 2009 and now our decision is coming into fruition and today we are at an advantage to supply and also at an advantage to show what Africans can do and produce when they invest in Africa,” says Choucair, who is Senegalese.
Aceria de Angola (ADA) is an ambitious project which involves the construction of one of the most modern steel plants in Africa, which will produce 250,000 tons of steel per year in its first phase. ADA is a project approved by the President, José Eduardo dos Santos, and part of K2L’s growing portfolio in the region as part of their commitment to building a better Africa and supporting Angola to diversify its economy in the midst of an oil crisis. All the current talk of political agitation and how that affects investor confidence, does not seem to faze the Senegalese businessman: “I am African and have been living in Angola for the past 23 years. Angola has given me a lot and it is one of the major economic players in central and Southern Africa today. Since the end of conflict, Angola has done a lot, some people say not enough…We as investors in Angola, feel our investments are secure in the country. In 2013, the US State Department said itself that Angola is one of the top-most secure countries in the world. Angola is a big market and no one should question why we are investing in Angola.”
In 2013/2014 the importation of steel rebars was around 300Kt; when in full production ADA will produce 300Kt of steel rebars annually. The quality of the steel produced is certified by European and Western standards and the project is environmentally responsible, meeting all the requirements of the US, EU and World Bank.
Says Choucair: “ADA is part of the road to economic diversification as it will bring a new dynamic industry to Angola that is not related to the oil and gas. It will also save $200 to $300 million in foreign currency reserves for the Angolan National Bank.”
ADA is part of a $300 million private investment, the largest private investment the region has ever seen, creating 600 direct jobs and over 3,000 indirect jobs. The economic, social and developmental aspect of this project is unparalleled, providing healthcare, education, water and hope to thousands while building new communities in an ongoing effort to make Angola self-sufficient. The community around the factory now has access to clean water, a training centre, health centre and electricity.
Where does he get his passion and zeal to invest such big money in an African country?
“Well, [it is] because I am African first. But what is my passion? We as Africans, we do not have the same tools as Americans, Europeans or the Chinese, even in terms of access to finance. We have to work double hard and the doors are forever closed. As Africans we have to dismantle this situation and close this type of mentality and the only way we can do that is to show the world what Africans ourselves can do for ourselves…by making things happen and showing results, and showing the world that Africans are capable. That is something that drives my passion.”
The Aceria de Angola has been built in the Barra do Dande locality in the northern Bengo province. The projects on site include a scrap procurement centre and smelting furnaces, among others.
“The development of our continent can only come from wealth creation by citizens, sustainable industrial investments and processing resources that will result in more jobs… The steel industry is an essential sector in infrastructure development that contributes significantly to sustainable growth and poverty reduction,” concludes Choucair, who intends to extend the steel production project across central and Southern Africa in the not too distant future. NA