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Angola: Nelson Carrinho, an agro-industrial boss without fear or reproach

By Estelle Maussion
Posted on Tuesday, 16 November 2021 10:29

Nelson Carrinho runs the Angolan family group of the same name, which specialises in agricultural processing.Jean-Marc Pau for JA © Jean-Marc Pau for Jeune Afrique

Little known outside Angola, Angola's Nelson Carrinho, head of the Carrinho family group, dreams of transforming the company from an importer to a producer and processor of agricultural products.

The Carrinho family group – which has been headed by Nelson Carrinho, one of the sons of the founder Dona Leonor, since 2004 – launched a €350m ($399.6m) project, which is expected to create 1,000 jobs, in July.

The project, which includes a sugar refinery and an oil mill, is part of an industrial park that was inaugurated in 2019. It has 17 manufacturing units for agricultural and food products (rice, wheat, corn, cake, paste), hygiene products (soap) and packaging.

A symbol for Angola

The complex, which represents a €600m ($684.8m) investment, should enable the group from Lobito, a town in the southern part of the country, to move from the status of importer to that of producer and processor. This is symbolic in Angola, a country with strong agricultural potential (the 4th largest coffee producer in the world in the 1970s), but which is struggling to diversify an economy centred on oil production – which accounts for nearly 90% of its export earnings.

This is why the initiatives of Nelson Carrinho, who is at the helm with his brother Rui, have the president’s support. After attending the industrial park’s inauguration in 2019, President João Lourenço agreed to help finance (notably via Deutsche Bank) the project. Some have pointed out that these practices supposedly died out after the former president, José Eduardo dos Santos, left.

Created in the midst of the civil war

Brushing aside the criticism, the Carrinho group – which claims to have 3,500 employees, but does not disclose its financial results – says it has been able to get through many trials ever since it was established in 1993, in the midst of the civil war.

After starting out as a caterer for numerous companies, including the oil company Sonangol and Brazil’s Odebrecht, it became a supplier for the ministry of the interior and the army, while also developing import and transport activities as well as a chain of supermarkets (Bem Barato, cheap). In other words, the new industrial challenge does not frighten it.

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