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Construction

Portuguese construction company Gabriel Couto plans to resume work in Angola

Portuguese construction company Gabriel Couto is reviewing her strategy because of the pandemic, which has mainly affected the international area, but is already guaranteed to restart work in Angola within weeks.

: António Silva/Lusa
António Silva/Lusa  

The strategy is "certainly being reviewed" because "the pandemic has brought diverse impacts," said Tiago Couto, a company director, in an interview with Lusa, admitting cost reduction, but without quantifying or specifying in which areas.

In Portugal, as soon as the pandemic emerged the company adopted measures "to give all the conditions" to employees, contractors, subcontractors and suppliers so that they could work and do their jobs, "complying with the required hygiene and sanitary standards", explained the manager of the Portuguese construction company.

In this way, apart from not registering any cases of infection among its employees in Portugal until now, it managed not to have "significant stops" in the various works in progress in Portugal, he added.

In the international area, he cannot say the same. "That yes, even because of the logistics it involves, ended up suffering more," said the head of the construction company that operates in three African countries and three others in Central America.

In Africa, the company has operations in Angola, Zambia and Mozambique - where it is involved in building infrastructure for the natural gas exploration project.

In Africa, because of the pandemic, it was necessary to "bring back the expatriates and the projects were eventually suspended. But we hope to restart them in the coming weeks," said Tiago Couto.

In addition, "we have a delay [postponement of some deadlines] and suspensions of some projects, as is the case in Mozambique," he said.

In Angola, the works in progress "had guaranteed financing," so they were not covered by the suspension of contracts without guaranteed financing, announced by the Angolan government on 21 April in the midst of a pandemic, he said.

According to the manager, the company has already had contacts with the Angolan authorities and is already "sure that [the projects] will start up again naturally" soon.

In Angola's case, he is now worried about "the effect that could bring to the economy" the "fall in the price of oil, which is a cause for concern for everyone," he said.

However, "the markets turn out to be irrational and I think that in the same way that the price of oil has fallen abruptly there will surely be a recovery," he said.

As for fears about a possible increase in current debt, the manager said that, "so far, Angola has honored its commitments.

Therefore, "within our strategy, Angola is a country of great relevance, where we have already had more work than we have today, but it is still a strategic country", he stressed.

But, he stressed: "we have been reducing. This crisis is not for now. The Angolan market has been reducing its activity in terms of investment and public works".

As for the paths to be followed internationally by the company in its revised strategy, Tiago Couto concluded that it will be no different from the one being followed today. "I would say that we have one third of our activity in each of these operations", he said.

But "most of the assets are in northern Mozambique", he concluded.