Powering and Empowering Angola

“Our local employees receive specialized training and development, and when a project ends the skills remain to benefit the community for years to come.”

-- Eric Toumayan
Managing Director of Government Relations at APR Energy

Carlos (“Charlie”) Mateus works on a gas turbine hot section replacement at the Rocha Pinto plant. Mateus is one of more than 50
Carlos (“Charlie”) Mateus works on a gas turbine hot section replacement at the Rocha Pinto plant. Mateus is one of more than 50 Angolans hired and trained by APR Energy to help maintain and operate its two power plants in Luanda. (Photo: APR Energy)

As a central part of the U.S. Government’s new model of development, Power Africa encourages the private sector to play a leading role in projects that advance development outcomes. In Angola, Power Africa partner APR Energy is demonstrating the success of this model by empowering people and building local capacity.

Angola boasts the third-largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, yet the country grapples with high unemployment and a low electrification rate — only 30 percent of the population has access to electricity. APR Energy, a Florida-based energy services provider and Power Africa partner since 2014, is addressing both issues.

The company is currently providing 80 MW of electricity to Angola’s national grid through two projects in the capital city of Luanda. One of these projects is a 40 MW gas turbine facility in the Luanda neighborhood of Rocha Pinto, while the other is a 40 MW plant using diesel power modules in the Morro Bento community. Together, the plants provide power to more than 500,000 people in Angola.

APR Energy is developing fast-power solutions across the continent, often with support from Power Africa and the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

"U.S. government advocacy and support is immensely helpful, particularly in leveling the competitive playing field and reaching successful close of deals," said Eric Toumayan, managing director of government relations at APR Energy. “Our Power Africa partnership has helped us make measurable progress, including most recently in Angola, a country particularly hard hit by the consequences of sharp oil price decline.”

Capacity Building in Action

APR Energy prefers to hire local staff to operate and maintain its plants. In Angola, more than two-thirds of the people operating APR’s two plants were hired from the local workforce, which drives skills development and capacity building.  

“Our local employees receive specialized training and development, and when a project ends, the skills remain to benefit the community for years to come,” Toumayan said.

Carlos “Charlie” Mateus is one such employee at APR Energy’s Rocha Pinto facility. When Charlie joined APR Energy, he was working as an air conditioning technician, but within six months he was promoted to team leader, responsible for daily operation meetings, operation activities and shift reports.

By the end of 2014, Charlie was voted the best employee at Rocha Pinto plant. Since then, he has built up enough technical knowledge to be the first Angolan to restart the Rocha Pinto plant without an American presence on site.  Today, Charlie is the environmental, health and safety coordinator at Rocha Pinto, responsible for the plant’s safety and security standards.

“Working for APR is the most exciting job I’ve ever had and the one that makes me proud,” Charlie said.

Lourdes Cazuza started working at APR Energy’s Morro Bento plant in 2014 as a cleaner and tea lady.  The dedication and willingness to learn that Lourdes demonstrated on this job led to her being promoted to a fuel operator at the plant, where she is responsible for controlling and offloading up to eight fuel trucks each day.

“Lourdes is part now of the Morro Bento operation team and is one of the hardest-working employees we have on site,” said Plant Manager John Collins. “Lourdes has gained respect from her peers and supervisors and is one of our leading operators. Her next move will be as mechanical assistant with daily operation and maintenance responsibilities.”

“Working here has given me professional satisfaction and pride,” Cazuza said.

Community Development

The Rocha Pinto plant site is in the heart of an underprivileged community with frequent power shortages and no running water or sewage system. APR Energy worked with the local community to  renovate the sole medical center in the Rocha Pinto neighborhood, installing water pumps and climate control systems, repairing the electrical system, and providing new furniture.

The efforts of Power Africa and partners like APR Energy are building the capacity necessary for African energy leaders, governments, and utilities to develop and manage their own domestic energy sectors. By encouraging the development of local expertise, we are working toward a future where local communities and leaders — without the support of Power Africa — will be empowered to connect the right people to the right organizations and resources to achieve universal access to affordable, reliable and sustainable electricity.