Angola’s emergence as one of Africa’s fastest-growing nations is enabling it to rapidly broaden its economic output as well as drive social welfare reforms.
The country is now sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy, with much of that growth being powered by the country’s extensive oil reserves. But Angola is now looking to expand its horizons and is pumping money into health and educational schemes that will empower its population.
Angola’s many natural resources make it one of Africa’s wealthiest nations
Angola is, potentially, one of the richest countries in Africa, due to its oil and other mineral reserves, to its hydroelectric resources, and to the great extensions of cultivable terrain, of which only a small part is being used. Before independence Angola was self-sufficient in foodstuffs. The country used to export bananas, coffee and sisal, of which production is now almost nonexistent. Due to the civil war agricultural production was drastically reduced. The country has dependent on international help and on foods imports since the middle 1980’s. Cattle breeding is another important resource.

Traditionally Angola was self-sufficient in agricultural products but nowadays it deals a wide range of products that under the right circumstances it could easily produce itself. Angola has abundant forest resources, especially in North Kwanza and Cabinda, with potential for wood production and transformation. The sea in Angola is very rich in fishing resources. The mining sector (petroleum, diamonds and other minerals) reveals strong growth perspectives that will certainly stimulate the advent of both upstream and downstream industries.

Areas for the establishment of industrial and agro-industrial development poles are identified in Luanda, Benguela, Huíla, Cabinda and Huambo. The Republic of Angola has a managerial class owner of a considerable patrimony, in sub-use conditions, in need of partnerships, especially the ones with easily assimilated technology. There is a significant public managerial sector in the bank branches, transportation, energy and water that might be privatised.

The year 2002 opened new perspectives, since a political-military stability has been registered, the macroeconomic atmosphere has become stable and re-configured with the liberalization of the trade of exchange value, the application of the new customs list, the reduction of airport fees, the beginning of the rehabilitation of the productive and social infrastructures program, among others. The following programs were also planned for the year 2003: the replacement and consolidation of the administration of the State, the continuation of humanitarian assistance to the population, the continuity of the application of measures according to the state of the market, previously adjusted with the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, the start of the Integrated Program of Productive Re-launch, in order to consolidate the macroeconomic stability of the country, reduce the population’s difficulties and decrease significantly the unemployment indexes. Angola was identified in 1999 as the first recipient country of direct foreign investment, according to UNCTAD-“WORLD INVESTMENT REPORT”, unfortunately mostly in the oil sector.

ango-LMAP-md To pay for such reforms, it has been seeking new opportunities for foreign investment as it exploits its vast natural resources that lie under the ground. A nationwide attempt to map diamond, copper and gemstone reserves is under way, while a new charter that cuts red tape and relaxes ownership laws has been introduced to entice businesses from abroad.

The modernisation of the mining industry is part of President José Eduardo dos Santos’s plan to diversify the economy and improve living standards. Mr dos Santos, who has been the country’s head of state for the past 32 years, has overseen a steady transition since the end of armed conflict that has enabled Angola’s economy to enjoy widespread stability, and in turn made the nation an increasingly attractive place for businesses and investors, something which the President says is vital for growth.
“In this period of transition, the nation needs entrepreneurs and strong and efficient private investors to boost the creation of more wealth and employment,” he says. “The major objective of economic policy for this legislature is to promote the diversification of our economy, in order to make our development process less vulnerable and more sustainable.”
As part of the country’s National Development Plan, the President is seeking to reduce Angola’s dependence on oil. Money is being spent on the country’s education systems to create a skilled workforce across a variety of sectors, while strengthening international relations – particularly with nations such as Germany – is enabling it to bring in foreign expertise to assist with new industries.
The country’s economic growth has helped to fuel widespread infrastructure improvements, with better transport links encouraging investment in the mining industry and providing more employment opportunities. Electricity and water distribution systems are being improved, and Manuel Domingos Vicente, who was sworn in as Vice-President of the country in 2013, has challenged the private enterprise sector to develop and streamline social responsibility programmes to significantly improve the quality of life for the country’s citizens.

Education systems, especially at primary and secondary level, are being targeted, and the country’s healthcare system is also being developed to provide a more comprehensive service.

Elsewhere, the Integrated Municipal Programme for Rural Development and Combating Poverty, established in all municipalities in 2012, has become the country’s biggest social inclusion programme, while help-to-work schemes have already assisted over 200,000 families. It all points to a nation that has emerged from conflict through steady economic growth and is now increasingly seeking social reform, which Mr dos Santos says are interlinked.

“It is our responsibility to create the conditions for capital to grow and bear fruit,” he adds, “and that will bring about a prosperous, peaceful and democratic Angola.”