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Interview de Maitre Lydia Picoteiro Bettencourt

Lydia Picoteiro Bettencourt, An expert on Portuguese-speaking Africa at CIAN. Barrister at the Bar in Paris and Cape Verde

How do you do business with the Senegalese? What are the business codes?


The Africans in the Portuguese-speaking countries are particularly friendly. To borrow the expression, they’re business-friendly countries.

But they share a common cultural feature: the language.

They’re all part of what we call the community of Portuguese-speaking countries and this is a very strong asset.

And don’t be tempted to think that the business-friendly environment means that there’s a lack of commitment or vigilance in doing business.

They’re all fully committed to seeing their project through to completion.


There are certain codes that are not immediately obvious and may come as a surprise when you arrive in the country, but they need to be examined more closely as, once he has adopted them, the investor will feel that he has been “recognised and respected” for what he is seeking to contribute to the country.

For example, in Angola there’s a “generals’ circle” system.

So, sometimes, to carry out a project you need to know a member of the circle.

It’s like a sort of rite of passage, you need to be recognised by the circle in order to move forward.

It’s one of the somewhat hidden codes because it’s not widely known but you need to be aware of it.

You need to know two or three people who are members of these circles and they’ll help you deal more easily with the formalities.

I’m not talking about circles of influence or corruption. It’s got nothing to do with that.

You simply have to adopt the criteria determined by these different circles, and they will check whether you fulfil all the conditions for entering the country.