President Francois Hollande meets with his Angolan counterpart Jose Eduardo Dos Santos
Luanda - Arab Today
France and Angola on Friday signed business agreements covering a wide range of economic sectors from oil to hotels, which are potentially worth several hundred million dollars, French officials said.
At the head of a delegation of about 50 French company executives visiting the southern African country, President Francois Hollande hailed "a movement to increase and diversify" bilateral deals.
Hollande cited transport, tourism, the agro-food industry, water supply, renewable energy and urban development as sectors in which France sought to invest, outside the oil industry that dominates Angola's economy.
Hotel group Accor signed a contract with the local firm AAA to manage 50 Angolan hotels by 2017. AAA, which owns these establishements, ran into financial difficulties in 2013.
Total, the leading foreign oil company operating in Angola, signed two contracts with national firm Sonangol, one to step up direct cooperation in oil production and the other to distribute solar-powered lamps.
Neither company released details of how much the deals were worth.
Hollande also said that an office of the French Development Agency (AFD) would be opened in Angola to help with investments and simplify visa procedures.
"I shall also ensure that French banks can be present in Angola to make financial transitions easier," the French leader said.
"I know that the Angolan economy has for several months been suffering from the fall in oil prices, but we are sure that Angola will be ready to meet the challenge," he added.
On independence from Portugal in 1975, the Angolan liberation battle turned into a devastating civil war that lasted until 2002, at great cost to colonial industry and infrastructure.
The economy remains largely dependent on exports of oil and diamonds and more than 40 percent of the population of 24.4 million is estimated to live below the poverty line.
Other business deals announced included Air France planning to add a third weekly flight between Luanda and Paris.
The BTP Eiffage group agreed to build 104 pedestrian footbridges in a contract worth almost 200 million dollars (180 million euros), and National weather service Meteo France said it would help modernise Angola's meteorological network over seven years, in a deal worth $60 million for the first phase.
Overall, however, the agreements reached fell far short of the billion dollars announced in advance by Hollande's office.
France is the third largest direct foreign investor in Angola.