Around 250 businesspeople from Portugal, Mozambique, Angola and Cabo Verde are due to meet, between Wednesday and Friday, in the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Malabo, at the first business summit promoted by the Business Confederation of the Community of Portuguese-language countries (CE-CPLP).
Mário Simões, vice president of the Executive Commission of the CE-CPLP, told Lusa news agency that the event would be attended by “around 250 businesspeople,” as well as several institutional representatives from Portuguese-speaking countries.
“Businesspeople from Portugal, Mozambique, Angola and Cape Verde are here,” he said, adding that the biggest delegation is from Portugal, with around 70 companies.
Angola will take part with around 30 companies and Mozambique with over 20.
Cabo Verde will be represented by a mission with “four or five companies and the country’s biggest chamber of commerce,” he said.
The head of state of Cabo Verde and acting president of the CPLP, Jorge Carlos Fonseca, is due to speak “online” at the meeting, whilst the Minister for Industry, Trade and Energy, Alexandre Monteiro, will be in Malabo.
The participation of the President of Guinea Bissau, Umaro Sissoco Embaló, is not expected to take place.
Sao Tome and Principe will be represented at the highest level by the President, Evaristo Carvalho, who together with the host, Teodoro Obiang, will be the only heads of state to attend the summit.
From Angola, a delegation led by the Minister of Industry and Trade, Victor Fernandes, is expected to attend, while Portugal’s representative in Malabo, Frederico Silva, is expected to represent the country.
The initiative will be officially opened by the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, with speeches from the Minister of Mines and Hydrocarbons, Gabriel Mbega Obiang Lima, and the Minister of Fisheries and Water Resources, Adoración Salas Chonco, the president of the EC-CPLP, Salimo Abdula, and the Director-General of the CPLP, Armindo de Brito Fernandes also expected during the three days of the meeting.
The meeting aims to “consolidate the integration” of Equatorial Guinea into the CPLP, of which it has been a member since 2014, and “demonstrate the potential, as a country of resources and opportunities, putting it on the route of foreign investment,” according to the organisation.
“The idea is to hold economic summits in CPLP countries and Equatorial Guinea was the first country to make itself available,” said Mário Simões, adding that summits have already been scheduled for Angola in July and Guinea-Bissau in November.
Gas, tourism, agriculture, fishing, asset valuation, banking, training are some of the sectors of Portuguese companies taking part in the business summit, most of which are visiting the country for the first time in search of investment opportunities.
Due to the pandemic, Equatorial Guinea has a number of restrictive measures in place, including the mandatory use of masks, limitation to one international flight per week, presentation of negative PCR tests or proof of vaccination to enter the country, as well as a ban on movement between regions or limiting participation in worship activities or weddings.
Sources heard by Lusa news agency point out that the decree with the restrictions ended on April 30, but that new measures have not yet been disclosed, but they believe in the announcement of the easing of restrictions in the coming days to frame the holding of the summit.
“Companies cannot continue to be locked up at home and in their offices. This opening of the CPLP market is to help companies, after a year of lockdown, to be able to go out again and open doors to other business opportunities,” said Mário Simões.
Equatorial Guinea is the third oil producing country in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola, and has significant natural gas reserves, in an economy heavily dependent on the hydrocarbons sector, which in 2016 represented about 60% of the Gross Domestic Product.
The country’s economy has been in negative territory for several years, and should, according to estimates by Equatorial Guinea’s National Institute of Statistics, resume growth of 2.8% in 2021.