by Sebastian Seibt
Newscast Media LUANDA, Angola—French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius’s visit to
Angola on Thursday is meant to offer France’s business leaders the opportunity to
participate in the African country’s economic boom. But many see Angola’s “economic
miracle” as a mirage.
The delegation of business leaders accompanying French Foreign Minister Laurent
Fabius on his visit to Angola on Thursday, October 31, is impressive.
Among them are top representatives from Air France, Airbus, BNP Paribas, and Total,
all hoping to get a piece of the economic boom the southern African country has
been enjoying over the last several years.
The stakes of this diplomatic visit are even articulated on the website of France’s
finance ministry, where the Angola page reads: “Few countries in the world have as
great a potential as Angola, where, despite the competition, there are several
possibilities for French companies.”
On paper, Angola’s “economic miracle” is obvious. Since the end of the bloody civil
war that ravaged the country from 1975 to 2002, the former Portuguese colony has
registered rates of growth comparable to China’s. Despite a slowdown during the first
years of the financial crisis, Angola saw its annual growth rise above 7 percent as of
Analysts from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development
Bank (AfDB) has predicted that the country — Africa’s third strongest economically,
after South Africa and Nigeria – will maintain this growth rate for years to come.
Moreover, China has lobbied to become Angola’s principal business partner, investing
more than 15 billion dollars in 17 different economic agreements with the country.
“Officially, there are 276,000 Chinese citizens residing in Angola,” read a memo from
the Switzerland Global Enterprise, an institution with the mission of boosting Swiss
commerce, in December 2012.
Portugal has also manifested its interest in Angola’s robust economic health – but in a
different way. Struck low by the crisis at home, more than 150,000 Portuguese
citizens have obtained visas to work in Angola, a migratory phenomenon that the site
Slate Afrique qualifies as “never before seen in contemporary history”.
Angola largely owes its economic success to “black gold” or oil. The country is the
second biggest oil producer on the African continent, and the fourth biggest in the
world. Angola is planning on increasing its production from the current rate of 1.8
million barrels per day to 2 million in 2015.
France has also been staking out its spot in the race for Angola’s oil money, with
Total investing 9.1 billion euros in the country (out of a total of 10 billion euros
invested by France in Angola in 2012).
Some analysts have gone as far as predicting that Angola could become the African
Qatar. The country could indeed transform itself into a gas jackpot like that Gulf
state, as it has the second biggest reserve of natural gas in Africa, which it has only
recently begun to exploit. Following the Qatari model, Angola set up a 5-billion-dollar
sovereign wealth fund in 2012, which it plans to use to diversify its economy.
Source: France 24