A security provider for Angola’s energy and banking sectors G4S Venancio-EPOLUA

RISK360, our end-to-end risk security solution, allows G4S and its customers to have real-time access to the sites while requiring fewer people.

Venancio EPOLUA General Manager G4S

A one-stop shop for security in Angola

April 11, 2022

Venancio Epolua, general manager of G4S, talks to The Energy Year about the security services G4S provides for Angola’s oil and gas industry, how the pandemic and local legislation have affected the company’s operations, and its future strategy. G4S is a multinational company offering security and cash solutions in more than 100 countries, including Angola.

How has G4S navigated through the pandemic and changing oil price scenarios in recent years?
Since 2020, we’ve been struggling with the pandemic. Nevertheless, we’ve grown quite substantially. If we compare before and after the pandemic, I would say that we’ve increased our turnover by more than 40%. Today, we are actually benefiting from the advantages we obtained during the pandemic.
We benefited from local currency devaluations because one of our main types of contract with TotalEnergies is set in US dollars, so we were seeing our revenue in the local currency increasing.
We had a lot of business, including requests for more security, because in Angola we provide manned guards, armed men on sites, driving services and transportation security.
The oil crisis also led to a massive challenge as some of our clients reduced operations, so we overcame this challenge by reducing our costs and running a leaner operation with more efficiencies.
Although people were leaving the office and working from home due to Covid, there were assets to protect. We have some operations in Talatona. Some of the expats, for example, had to leave the country, and we had to protect the facilities, offices and residences.

What are the main challenges preventing international security companies’ penetration in Angola?
There are some security solutions that we can offer, including onshore and offshore security services, but it is quite difficult to provide them in Angola because currently the government is offering this protection to oil operators. We can’t compete with the government. The army is patrolling the sea, and there is not much of a business opportunity in this area.
A similar situation has occurred with security alarms, which we’re trying to sell in Talatona, without success. The most we can do is include CCTV monitoring, which we do from our central office.
The problem is that, from a cultural point of view, people – especially in Angola – tend to believe that armed guards are a guarantee of protection, and they prefer to have army personnel. We have a different idea, but if we want to operate in Angola, we have to change the mentality of the people.

What are the company’s main services in Angola?
We deliver a one-stop shop for a wide range of security services. We provide manned security guards, which are fully compliant with G4S worldwide standards. We also offer risk consultancy, including security advice, risk assessments, mitigation strategies and integrated solutions. Our transportation services include executive, staff and crew movements.
We also have the capacity to design, install and maintain electronic systems for projects of any size and complexity. On the majority of sites where G4S provides security services, our role extends far beyond simply providing access and egress control. We are integral to the safety of all staff, contractors and visitors. We operate 24-hour control centres to respond to routine and emergency calls and preventive maintenance service requirements. We also specialise in event-driven, off site monitoring of alarms, CCTV and electronic systems.


How significant is G4S’ footprint within the Angolan oil and gas sector?
Oil and gas represents 58% of our portfolio. We are currently only working with security solutions, but there are plenty of services related to security that we could offer on the Angolan market. Currently we are providing more onshore solutions, but we have been offering offshore security solutions too.
We are operating in Luanda, Cabinda and Soyo because of the importance of the oil industry to our business. We moved to Cabinda in April 2019, offering services to Baker Hughes and Pluspetrol. In 2021, we also began offering services to Weatherford in Cabinda. After Luanda, Soyo represents our main location of operation. Cabinda represents our smallest operation.

What are the main opportunities you expect coming from oil and gas players, and which ones do you plan to target?
From our perspective, 2022 will be a year of restarting because many companies have been blocked from continuing activities. For those who have survived, there is hope they will come back to the market beginning in 2022.
We have been talking to our customers to understand where they want to be in the next few years after the pandemic and the oil crisis, and the feedback so far is quite good. Weatherford and Baker Hughes are planning to have a large presence in Cabinda, more expats will come and we will increase our operations there. Furthermore, we are targeting some companies who are currently not our clients, such as Halliburton. Schlumberger was our client until 2018, and my plan is to bring them back. That is one of our main targets for this year.
We have also targeted Exxon and BP. Further, we’ve been approached by some of our clients, such as TotalEnergies, to discuss potential maritime security services. They’re specifically asking for risk management and security advice. It’s more like intelligence security. We might have a huge opportunity to grow.

How is G4S investing in digital solutions to optimise costs and increase efficiencies?
In 2021, we launched RISK360, an end-to-end risk security solution that allows G4S and its customers to have real-time access to the sites while requiring fewer people. It’s like a repository where we can combine the CCTV panic button and many other technologies in a single platform.
It can be operated by a single person, and we can customise the reports clients want to see, as well as some alerts. Let’s say there are some threats: we can see them from the camera and immediately react. There are issues that some customers may consider a risk that others do not, so we customise our security depending on each customer’s needs.

How will the recent publication of exclusivity and preference lists affect the local content framework and your activities?
The new local content decree has led to exclusivity requirements that are actually a huge challenge for G4S. Oil companies can only hire services from security companies that are 100% owned by locals. All of our manned guards are Angolan. However, our ownership is not local, so we are unable to continue operating as such.
We are looking for local sponsors who want to be a G4S representative and form a local company. Of course, we would have three-party contracts and thus be formally owned by a local corporate sponsor but still controlled by us.
Regarding strategy, one of the constraints we have is the legislation that stops us from growing as we planned. There are many bureaucratic and legal obstacles and restrictions that must be overcome to operate in the security industry. Bringing cash-in-transit services into Angola, for example, is something we’ve tried to do, but we’ve been met with constraints and limitations.
Because of these restrictions, we have been prevented from operating with the same opportunities as local companies. For example, we still don’t operate with firearm licences. We’re currently trying to obtain them, but we are still working by subcontracting a local company since G4S cannot have weapons.

What are G4S’ goals in Angola for the coming years?
Angola is a very promising market for G4S, although it is seen as one of the toughest places to do business. However, we are far from being the market leader in Angola. According to our most recent research, we probably have less than a 1% market share.
According to our sales and strategic plan, the target is to increase our share by at least 6% in the next five years. That implies significant penetration into sectors such as banking and mining, which are the two targets we have for the next three to five years.

Read our latest insights on: