Agriculture is Angola’s next business hotspot, says local DHL boss

Egidio Monteiro, country manager for DHL Express in Angola, says he never really sleeps, he merely rests. Being in charge of an international logistics company – where speed is of the essence – in a rapidly growing country that still suffers from an infrastructure deficit requires him to always be on this toes. How we made it in Africa asks Monteiro, 35, about his management style and the opportunities he sees in the Angolan economy.

Egidio Monteiro

Egidio Monteiro

Angola has seen significant economic growth since the end of the war in 2002. Standard Bank has also recently come out with a report highlighting an impressive surge in the middle class over the past decade. Are you seeing evidence of this growth on the ground in Angola?

Angola is growing really, really fast. I’ve lived abroad and came back to the country in 2000. Since then there have been significant improvements.

There are many new businesses being launched in sectors such as healthcare, education and construction. One sees a lot of small pharmacies, clinics, and small construction companies popping up. This growing entrepreneurial activity is also creating employment.

The oil and gas industry accounts for a large chunk of the Angolan economy, but which other sectors show potential for future growth?

Oil and gas is an important sector for DHL, but we also see significant opportunities in other areas. One sector that I think could soon become very big is agriculture. The government has put a lot of investment into agriculture. As we witness the financial efforts from the government to support the transport and logistics sectors, we are also building a strategy to support people investing in agriculture and ensure that their products get from A to Z quickly and in a good condition. Agriculture should be the next hotspot for Angola.

Angola has often been described as a tough business environment. What does it take for foreign companies to be successful in the country?

Think global, and act local. You need a global perspective, but make sure you understand how things operate on a local level. You can’t just go out for dinner with Angola, you really need to move into marriage. Ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the country and its people.

Describe your leadership style. How do you ensure that your team stays motivated?

My style of leadership is based on communication. I share all the relevant company information with the employees so they are informed about the direction of the business. It is important to make them part of the strategy to achieve our goals. We have a very decentralised way of managing the company.

There is a misconception that Angolans are lazy and that it is difficult to find good workers. As an Angolan running an international company like DHL, I’m proof that it is possible to find good quality people in Angola. However, it is the responsibility of companies to give employees adequate training and to support them in areas where they may be lacking.

What parts of the job keep you awake at night?

Our customers and my commitment to support their businesses. Because of infrastructure challenges, being involved with logistics in Angola is still a big challenge. I normally tell people that since I started with DHL 13 years ago, I have not been sleeping, I’m just resting.

We have to follow the industry; we have to keep our eyes open; we need to constantly challenge ourselves in whatever we do. In business you can never relax. There is always space for improvement, and you just have to keep focused. No matter how good you are, there is always something that you can do better.