January 28 - Universal Africa Lines (UAL), which offers specialist shipping services in West Africa's 'oil and gas theatre', has added a new office in Luandam with Monique Gubler, formerly chief operating officer of a global logistics provider, appointed

Gubler says the office will satisfy demand in the country for 'local content' - a strategy of regulating foreign investment that is common in Africa and which forms the basis of Angola's economic resurgence after years of strife. 

Also called indigenisation and black empowerment, local content is gaining support in Africa and takes on a number of forms, including the requirement for domestic African companies to do most of their trade with other African companies; foreign companies to invest in the countries they do business in, directly or in partnership with local business (rather than simply repatriate their earnings); requiring them to use local skills and to run skills transfer programmes; and requiring them to sell a substantial stake in their local operation, to effect a rebalancing of economic assets and resources. 

Gubler says in keeping with indigenisation practices, UAL will develop the Angolan office and market in partnership with a local entity which has been approved by Sonangol, the Angolan national oil and gas company. 

She notes that UAL's investment will contribute to the development of a local shipping industry and augment regular shipments from South Africa as well as Europe and the USA into the West African region. UAL maintains a regular bi-monthly service from South Africa to the West African oil theatre with many shipments originating in Angola. Oil and gas equipment from the West African oil theatre will be sent to South Africa for refurbishment after which it will be shipped back to West Africa. 

UAL has a long history of African investment dating back many years, to a time before it became a trade requirement. More than 30 years ago, the company set up a Nigerian country operation to handle business in one of the continent's leading economies. It is the sole owner of the K5 oil base in Equatorial Guinea, Africa's third-largest oil-producing country. 

UAL CEO Roger Jungblut says: "the launch of UAL Angola is the culmination of a long history of investment in Africa that will strengthen Angolan industry, African trade in general, and UAL's stake in Africa as a global economic power."