Angola: News in Review
Angola’s minister of Industry, Geology and Mining attended the World Economic Forum on Africa, taking place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The Minister was representing the head of State, José Eduardo dos Santos, under the topic “Rethinking Development Strategy for Africa”. The Angolan government official was accompanied by Angola’s ambassador to Tanzania, Ambrósio Lukoki.
Namibia and Angola partner to build $1.1 billion dam
Namibia and Angola partnered to finance and build a US$1.1 billion hydropower plant on a river that runs along their common borders in a joint effort to end power disruptions that have plagued their economies for decades. In May, the head of Namibia’s state-utility firm NamPower announced the project, which includes a hydropower station and a storage dam in the Kunene river, is expected to be ready by 2017. The cost of the joint venture project between the two countries will be spilt equally between Namibia and Angola and environmental with feasibility studies of the 400-megawatt (MW) Baynes hydroelectric project which are expected to be ready before the end of the year. Both nations will then look for contractors to build the power station.
The plans to build the dam 15 years ago at the Epupa Falls, which lie approximately 40 kilometres north of Baynes, were put on hold after protesters raised fears it would threaten the environment and the nomadic Ovahimba community who lived nearby.
Angola, which rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer, relies primarily on hydroelectric power for its energy needs and is undergoing a muti-billion dollar infrastructure development program which includes rebuilding dams that were destroyed in the civil war.
The officials at Angola’s Energy Ministry say that only 5 per cent of an estimated 18,000 MW of hydroelectric power is being used in Angola.
Angola experiences record high economic growth in non-oil sectors
In early May, Vice President of Angola, Fernando da Piedade dos Santos, announced exceptional progress in the country’s non-oil sector. The Vice President reported that the oil rich country’s non-oil sector presently accounts for 58 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product—a rapid increase from the 5 per cent it accounted for in 2002. Angola has 35 million hectares of land classified as being potential arable land for development of agriculture which is founding the basis of a renewed focus on agriculture.
While attending the opening session of the 26th Confederation of the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for Africa, the Vice President promoted Angola’s water resources including 47 hydrographical basins. He also elaborated on plans for the government to restructure the agrarian research system and to recuperate Zoo-technical and Agronomic Research Stations in the country, in order to appropriately make use of these natural resources and to diversify the Angolan economy.
The FAO director-general commended the Angolan President on the agriculture development policies being carried out by his government with a view to ensuring food security.
50 per cent drop in Angola building licences in 2009
New building licences in Angola dropped 50 per cent in 2009, precipitating a slowdown in the country’s once thriving property market. According to reports, only 569 thousand square metres were approved for construction in 2009, down from 1.06 square metres in 2008. Analysts say that although home and office sales in Angola have slowed down in recent years, real-estate prices remain high in a city where a two bedroom apartment can still get around $1 million.
Angola’s economy still on pace for fastest growing economy in the world
The World Bank reported in April Angola’s economy is expected to expand between 6.5 and 7.5 percent in 2010 due to higher oil prices from around zero last year. A Senior World Bank economist said higher oil prices should help the oil-producing nation recover a drop in some of its foreign exchange reserves. The economist said Angola’s economy is expected to perform much better in 2010 compared to 2009 and preliminary data suggests that oil revenues have improved especially compared to same period in 2009.
After emerging from a civil war in 2002 to rival Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer, Angola plans to pump 1.9 million barrels per day in 2010, up from 1.82 million in 2009, according to its 2010 budget. New loans from the International Monetary Fund and China should also help bolster the economic recovery after a slump in oil prices in 2008 and 2009 ended several years of double-digit expansion. The government predicts the economy will expand 8.6 per cent this year, up from 1.3 per cent in 2009. The African nation signed three new credit lines with China at the end of 2009 worth $10-billion, according to the World Bank report. Chinese loans to Angola since the end of the civil war in 2002 are now at around $14.5-billion.