Angola : the new major African economic force

Mathilde Mossard, translated by Nathalie Macq
4 Août 2013

For a long time, we heard about Angola for civil war matters, guerrillas or even for international interventions. In 1975, just when the country was born, began three decades of bloody intern conflicts. However, Le Journal International does not want to talk about war but business.

Credits photo — Reuters
Credits photo — Reuters
First, let’s focus on a figure that catches the attention of foreign investors: 17, the Angolan GPD growth rate between 2004 and 2008. The Angolan economic climate benefits from a positive wave, offering development prospects. The modernisation of the Angolan economy is the key point of the new millennium; however, this millennium ends after a dark chapter of the national history. 

End of the civil war: the birth of an economy

When Portugal declared Angola independent in 1975, the Marxist-inspired Party MPLA (People's Movement for the Liberation of Angola) was the political leader of the country. However, other political parties claim for power, which led to a civil war, dramatically fed by the Cold War’s international plans. On one hand, the MPLA was supported by Cuba and the USSR, and on the other hand, UNITA (National Union for the Total Independence of Angola) pro-Westerners, supported by the South African apartheid regime and the United States. After UNITA’s leader’s death in 2002, the party laid down arms and the civil war ended with a balance of 500,000 victims. Thus, the MPLA remained the first major political force of the country and was the first to democratize Angolan institutions.
These conflicts hid the economical potential of the country. The Angolan territory is richly endowed with natural resources, especially petrol, natural gas, copper, diamonds, iron, zinc, etc. The oil industry began in the 1970s in Angola, but it was really developed at the end of the war. The country even joined the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting countries (OPEC) in 2005. From now on, black gold represents 85% of the Angolan GPD and in second place are diamond extraction’s exportations, which represent up to 5% of the GPD.
The oil production has doubled since 2002. However, without being dethroned, it leaves space for a diversification of the economy. Allowing the rehousing of people, peace made agriculture and construction growth fields of the country. Moreover, once legitimated, the public authorities could play their role of administrator and create economic development conditions (water and electricity facilities, legal management of companies, tax system).

An attracting regional force

To trust a safe and peaceful country is one of the key points of the Angolan economic development. Besides, double or triple digit inflation is part of the past; currency seems to stabilize, an extension of the country’s situation. All the conditions for an after-war economic boom are gathered. The national reconstruction of the 2000’s was held by oil industry profits and by international credits.
Growth rate has increased amazingly (17%), despite the slowing down caused by the 2008 crisis. Between 1989 and 2008, Angola had the most promising growth rate of the African continent (including Maghreb), which attracted worldwide foreign investors. Everybody hurries to make business on this land of opportunity. Portugal and Brazil are present, because of the same language they share with Angola and their common colonial past, but also China and Spain. The huge and brand new shopping centre of Luanda, the capital city, represents foreign investors dynamism.
Diplomatic meetings are constantly increasing. Last April 25th, Angolan and Spanish ministers gathered in Madrid within a forum about Angola’s economic opportunities. Still in April, the Angolan minister of Geology and Mines went to Brazil to reinforce the geological and mining cooperation. Last March, Luanda welcomed a Chinese delegation within an environmental technology exhibition, since both countries would like to cooperate more closely in that field.
Angola confirms its regional economic domination by these figures. In 2008, the country was the seventh major economic force of the African continent. According to the Angolan economist Manuel Alves da Rocha, Angola could become fifth in the panel in 2014. Its rise is successful and allows the country to have a better political will within regional organizations. Angola will now promote its interests from the NEPAD (administrative body of the African Union, which analyses prospects and plans for the economic development of the area), but also from a regional integration institution which Angola is part of the SADC (Southern African Development Community).
10 years after the end of the civil war, the country is undoubtedly a new African economic power. Angola is the successful example of an economic development model based on political stability, benefiting from mining and oil investments. Angola must confirm the interest it arouses.