It is not easy to get an interview with the Angolan government about corruption in Angola's oil sector. In Angola Minister of Oil Jose Botelho de Vasconcelos cancelled a scheduled interview with DanWatch, and the state-owned oil company Sonangol refused to meet with DanWatch.
So it was with optimism that DanWatch turned up for the Confederation of Danish Industry's (DI) event "Invest in Angola", on the 23rd of November 2010, where several prominent people from Angola attended to promote business opportunities in the country.
Here Minister of Industry Ngone Kiala Gabriel and several others from the Angolan business delegation talked about business opportunities in the country. 150 people from the Danish business community showed up to listen and learn. According to Director of DI Hans Peter Slente the Danish business community’s great interest in an African country was rather unusual.
Corruption was not mentioned at the seminar until DanWatch asked the Minister of Industry about how Danish companies can avoid being involved in corruption in Angola.
-We hear about corruption from everywhere. But nobody has ever shown evidence of it. Personally I have never experienced corruption. If you have proof please bring them to me, said Minister of Industry Ngone Kiala Gabriel, who spent most of the time allocated to questions from the audience on this particular issue.
-Remember that corruption has two sides. There is always the person who is corrupt, and the person who corrupts, he elaborated, referring to foreign companies who expect to benefit from a corrupt business environment when they begin operations in Angola.
Commercial Director Paulo Jorge Veiga from Angolan embassy to the Nordic countries, explained afterwards:
-Our country is not perfect. If your organization [DanWatch] had existed in the years after World War II, you would have been very busy in Europe. The civil war in Angola ended only eight years ago.
-Thank you for your question, it is important to talk about such things. I like your organization, and I also like The Yes Men, he finished.
During the seminar several Danish companies held presentations on their activities in Angola. From Maersk Oil A / S senior director Åke Hesselbom told about the company's activities in the oil sector and container freight. Also Welltec, who make robots for oil wells, and the Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries (IFU), which supports projects in the country, spoke. Both companies is in partnership with Sonangol or collaborate with companies owned by Sonangol.