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Country Profile: The Republic of Angola

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The Republic of Angola, or República de Angola as it is said in Portuguese, which has been this nation’s official language since its spell as a Portuguese overseas territory came to an end in just 1975, is a central South-African country. It is the second largest oil and diamond producer in sub-saharan Africa, and its economic growth centres almost entirely on its oil industry.

Following Angola’s independence from Portugal, the country suffered a famously bloody civil war which continued up until 2002. Some 25 years of civil war left the nation in a rather precarious, fragile state, and its resources industries, although undeniably bountious, took quite a hit.

The year 2004 was a pivotal one for the resources industry in Angola, when the country reached one million parrels per day oil production, and cracked down on thousands upon thousands of illegal diamond miners which, according to the government in December 2004, totalled 30,000 individuals.

In September 2008 the first parliamentry elections for 16 years took place, again marking another great amount of progress and further stability for the country. In 2009, akin to the illegal diamond mine measures of 2004, Angola expelled a great many Congolese diamond thieves back to their neighbouring native country, the Republic of Congo. Sadly, this resulted in the Congo expelling approximately 20,000 Angolans in retaliation.

We have seen plenty about Angola’s resources industries in the headlines over the past year. Perhaps the most startling and media-dominating was the attack on the Togo football team as they travelled by bus when Angola hosted the African Nations Cup. The attack was carried out by Cabinda activists, a separatist guerilla group from the Cabinda exclave in the North, the region which plays host to roughly 65 per cent of Angola’s oil. This group is known as FLEC, Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda.

Cabinda

Within the nation of Angola, the Cabinda province is a vital region for resources, but also regrettably instrumental in the violence which takes place within the country. Home to roughly 357,576 people (at last count by 2006 figures), it is separated from the main bulk of Angola by a strip of land belonging to the Congo. Oil exploration began with the Cabinda Gulf Oil Company back in 1954, and today the region produces approximately 900,000 barrels per day of crude. Despite this booming resource hub, the region remains largely below the poverty line. Despite acts to support taxation and financial beneficiation from the oil industry, such as the 1996 act which dictated 10 per cent of oil revenue tax should go to the land, many of its native people feel that they do not see much, if any, of the profits made. The majority of Angola’s oil comes from the world-class Block Zero, which has been in operation for over 20 years now.

“Cabinda is a small, rich, open economy with self-reported crude oil reserves of about 130 billion barrels,” the website for the Federal Government of Cabinda says. “Cabinda continues its discussions with foreign oil companies to develop fields in the country.”

Angola in the news

Getting back to the wider nation of Angola proper, there have been a few promising announcements lately. Over 75,000 weapons have been recovered in a current disarmament programme run by Angola’s police forces. These weapons have been recovered from native civilians and are part of an increasing inclination towards targeting public violence and weapons possession by the authorities. In military news, a landmark co-operation accord in pursuit of united defence between Angola and Guinea Bissau was signed on April 15, 2010. Cândido Pereira Van-Dúnem, Angola’s Defence Minister, and Aristides Ocante da Silva, his counterpart from Guinea Bissau, signed the accord in Luanda.

On April 1, 2010, Sinopec, a subsidiary of the China Petrochemical Corporation, signed a deal for a stake in Block 18. In this deal, Sinopec will take a 55 per cent controlling stake in Sonangol Sinopec International (SSI) from Sinopec Group subsidiary Sinopec Overseas Oil & Gas (SOOG). SSI’s stake in Block 18 is 50 per cent.

On April 7, 2010, both Eni and Sonangol announced that they have made two new oil discoveries in Block 15/06 by continued exploration at the Nzanza-1 and Cinguvu-1 wells. Production estimates for the Nzanza-1 well previously centred at around 1,600 barrels per day, however in light of these discoveries each well is expected to reach 5,000 barrels per day or more.

On April 12, 2010, Anibal Octavio da Silva, Angola’s deputy petroleum minister, announced that they expect the nation’s petroleum output to rise by 16 per cent by the end of this year. It was also announced that the country expects to attract US$50.6 billion in investment between 2009 and 2013.

These news items, and the many others which arrived are reported along with them, serve to support government estimations for a wealth of investment in Angola, and prove the lucrative and well-recognised oil reserves within the country. This mix of military and public authority crackdowns on violence and actions for peacemaking, combined with what is clearly overwhelming interest in the oil industry, spell great promise for the future of this, a country which has endured more than its fair share of war and instability.

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