Saturday, September 18, 2021

Angola | Introduction

AfricaAngolaAngola | Introduction

Angola’s inhabitants are stoics. They have a profound knowledge of patience and avoid blaming the country’s problems on the fact that there was a war. In reality, Angolans act as if there is no war, despite the fact that it is deeply ingrained in every Angolan. Music is Angolans’ heart and soul; it can be heard everywhere, and they use everything as an excuse to celebrate. The country’s music is diverse, with a focus on Kuduro, Kizomba, Semba, and Tarrachinha, the last being more sensuous than the rest. Overall, it is fair to conclude that Angolans are a joyful and loving people that are always looking for more of what life has to offer.

Geography

Angola is the world’s twenty-third biggest nation, with 1,246,620 km2 (481,321 sq mi). Its size is equal to Mali, or double that of France or Texas. It is mainly located between latitudes 4° and 18° South and longitudes 12° and 24° East.

Angola is bounded on the south by Namibia, on the east by Zambia, on the north by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and on the west by the South Atlantic Ocean. Cabinda, a coastal exclave in the north, has borders with the Republic of the Congo to the north and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south. Luanda, Angola’s capital, is located on the Atlantic coast in the country’s northwest.

Climate

Angola, like the rest of tropical Africa, has distinct, alternating wet and dry seasons.

The cold Benguela Current tempers the coastal strip, resulting in a climate comparable to coastal Peru or Baja California. In the south and down the coast to Luanda, it is semiarid. From February through April, there is a brief rainy season. Summers are hot and dry, with moderate winters. The northern portion has a cold, dry season (May to October) and a hot, rainy season (November to April) (November to April). Temperature and rainfall decrease in the interior over 1,000m (3,300 ft). The central highlands have a temperate climate with a wet season from November to April and a cool dry season from May to October.

The heaviest rain falls in April, and it is accompanied by severe thunderstorms. Rain falls in the far north and Cabinda for the most of the year.

Demographics

According to the preliminary findings of the 2014 census, Angola has a population of 24,383,301 people, the first performed or carried out since December 15, 1970. It is made up of 37% Ovimbundu (language Umbundu), 23% Ambundu (language Kimbundu), 13% Bakongo, and 32% various ethnic groups (including the Chokwe, Ovambo, Ganguela, and Xindonga), as well as approximately 2% mestiços (mixed European and African), 1.6 percent Chinese, and 1% European. The Ambundu and Ovimbundu ethnic groups together account for 62 percent of the population. The population is expected to increase to more over 60 million people by 2050, which is 2.7 times the population in 2014. However, according to official statistics released by Angola’s National Statistic Institute – Instituto Nacional de Estatstica (INE) on March 23, 2016, Angola had a population of 25.789.024 people.

By the end of 2007, Angola was projected to have hosted 12,100 refugees and 2,900 asylum applicants. 11,400 of them refugees came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo in the 1970s. Angola was home to an estimated 400,000 Democratic Republic of the Congo migrant laborers, at least 220,000 Portuguese, and about 259,000 Chinese as of 2008.

More than 400,000 Congolese migrants have been removed from Angola since 2003. Prior to independence in 1975, Angola had a Portuguese population of around 350,000 people, but the great majority fled following independence and the subsequent civil war. However, Angola has regained its Portuguese minority in recent years; there are now approximately 200,000 registered with consulates, and this number is growing due to Portugal’s financial problems and Angola’s relative prosperity. The Chinese population is 258,920 people, the majority of them are temporary migrants. There is also a tiny Brazilian community of about 5,000 individuals.

Angola has the 11th highest total fertility rate in the world, with 5.54 children born per woman (2012 estimates).

Religion

Angola has about 1000 religious groups, the majority of which are Christian. While reliable statistics are lacking, it is estimated that more than half of the population is Catholic, with about a quarter belonging to the Protestant churches introduced during the colonial period: the Congregationalists primarily among the Ovimbundu of the Central Highlands and the coastal region to its west, and the Methodists primarily among the Kimbundu-speaking strip from Luanda to Malanj. There is a core of “syncretic” Tocoists in Luanda and the surrounding area, and a sprinkling of Kimbanguism may be found in the northwest, extending from the Congo/Zare. Since independence, hundreds of Pentecostal and similar communities have sprung up in cities, where approximately half of the population currently resides; many of these communities/churches are of Brazilian origin.

The Muslim population is estimated to be 80,000–90,000 by the US Department of State, while the Islamic Community of Angola puts the number closer to 500,000.

Muslims are mostly migrants from West Africa and the Middle East (particularly Lebanon), with some local converts. The Angolan government does not officially recognize any Muslim groups and often shuts down or prohibits the building of mosques.

Angola received a score of 0.8 on Government Regulation of Religion, 4.0 on Social Regulation of Religion, 0 on Government Favoritism of Religion, and 0 on Religious Persecution in a study assessing nations’ levels of religious regulation and persecution with scores ranging from 0 to 10, where 0 represented low levels of regulation or persecution.

Prior to independence in 1975, foreign missionaries were very active, though since the beginning of the anti-colonial fight in 1961, the Portuguese colonial authorities expelled a number of Protestant missionaries and closed mission stations on the grounds that the missionaries were inciting pro-independence sentiments. Since the early 1990s, missionaries have been allowed to return to the nation, but security concerns caused by the civil war kept them from rebuilding many of their old interior mission sites until 2002.

In contrast to the “New Churches,” which aggressively proselytize, the Catholic Church and other major Protestant groups generally stay to themselves. Catholics and several major Protestant faiths assist the needy by providing agricultural seeds, farm animals, medical treatment, and education.

Economy

Angola has a rich subsurface resources, including diamonds, oil, gold, copper, and a diverse fauna (which was severely depleted during the civil war), woodland, and fossils. Since independence, the most significant economic resources have been oil and diamonds. Smallholder and plantation agriculture suffered greatly as a result of the Angolan Civil War, but began to recover after 2002. The transformation industry that had emerged in the late colonial era failed after independence due to the departure of the majority of the ethnic Portuguese people, but has started to resurface with updated technology, thanks in part to the inflow of new Portuguese entrepreneurs. Similar trends may be seen in the service industry.

Overall, Angola’s economy has recovered from the devastation of a quarter-century civil war to become the fastest-growing in Africa and one of the fastest in the world, with an average GDP growth rate of 20% between 2005 and 2007. Angola had the world’s highest yearly average GDP growth rate from 2001 to 2010, at 11.1 percent. Angola received a $2 billion line of credit from Eximbank in 2004. The loan was intended to be used to restore Angola’s infrastructure while simultaneously limiting the International Monetary Fund’s influence in the country. Angola’s greatest trading partner and export destination, as well as its fourth-largest importer, is China. Bilateral commerce was $27.67 billion in 2011, an increase of 11.5 percent year on year. China’s imports, mostly crude oil and diamonds, rose 9.1 percent to $24.89 billion, while exports, which included mechanical and electrical goods, machinery components, and building materials, climbed 38.8 percent. Because to the oil glut, the local unleaded gasoline “pricetag” was £0.37 per gallon.

According to The Economist, diamonds and oil account for 60% of Angola’s GDP, nearly all of the country’s income, and are the country’s main exports. Rising oil output, which exceeded 1.4 million barrels per day (220,000 m3/d) in late 2005 and was projected to reach 2 million barrels per day (320,000 m3/d) by 2007. Sonangol Group, a corporation controlled by the Angolan government, controls the oil sector. Angola became a member of OPEC in December 2006. However, agreements in diamond mines exist between the state-run Endiama and mining firms like as ALROSA, which continue to operate in Angola. In 2005, the economy expanded 18 percent, 26 percent in 2006, and 17.6 percent in 2007. However, the global recession caused the economy to shrink by an estimated 0.3 percent in 2009. The security provided by the 2002 peace treaty has resulted in the resettlement of 4 million displaced people, resulting in large-scale improvements in agricultural output.

Although the country’s economy has grown considerably since achieving political stability in 2002, owing mostly to the rapidly increasing profits of the oil industry, Angola nevertheless confronts major social and economic challenges. These are partly the consequence of a virtually continuous state of warfare from 1961 onwards, but the greatest degree of devastation and socioeconomic loss occurred after independence in 1975, during the lengthy years of civil war. High poverty rates and obvious social disparity, on the other hand, are primarily the result of a combination of continuous political authoritarianism, “neo-patrimonial” practices at all levels of the political, administrative, military, and economic institutions, and widespread corruption. The primary benefactor of this scenario is a society segment formed over the past decades around the holders of political, administrative, economic, and military power, which has amassed (and continues to amass) tremendous riches. The “secondary beneficiaries” are the intermediate strata on the verge of becoming social classes. However, almost half of the population must be deemed poor, although there are significant variations between the countryside and the city in this regard (where by now slightly more than 50 percent of the people live).

According to an investigation conducted in 2008 by the Angolan Instituto Nacional de Estatstica, approximately 58 percent of the population in rural regions must be classed as “poor,” according to UN standards, but only 19 percent in urban areas, while the total average is 37 percent. A majority of families in cities, well beyond those officially classed as poor, must use a range of survival tactics. Simultaneously, socioeconomic disparity is most visible in metropolitan areas, and it reaches extremes in the capital, Luanda. Angola is consistently ranked at the bottom of the Human Development Index.

According to The Heritage Foundation, a conservative American think tank, Angola’s oil output has risen so dramatically that Angola is now China’s largest oil supplier. “China has provided three multibillion-dollar lines of credit to the Angolan government: two $2 billion loans from China Exim Bank, one in 2004, the second in 2007, and a $2.9 billion loan from China International Fund Ltd in 2005.” Growing oil earnings have also provided possibilities for corruption: from 2007 to 2010, 32 billion US dollars vanished from government accounts, according to a recent Human Rights Watch study. Furthermore, Sonangol, the state-owned oil firm, controls 51% of Cabinda’s oil. Because of this market dominance, the business ends up deciding the amount of profit provided to the government and the amount of taxes paid. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the World Bank stated Sonangol “is a taxpayer, performs quasi-fiscal functions, invests public money, and serves as a sector regulator as a concessionaire. This diverse labor program generates conflicts of interest and defines a complicated connection between Sonangol and the government, undermining the official budgeting process and creating confusion about the state’s real fiscal position.”

Angola was a breadbasket of southern Africa and a major exporter of bananas, coffee, and sisal before independence in 1975, but three decades of civil conflict (1975–2002) devastated the farmland, left it strewn with landmines, and pushed millions into cities. The nation currently relies on costly food imports, mostly from South Africa and Portugal, despite the fact that more than 90 percent of farming is done at the family and subsistence level. Thousands of Angolan small-scale farmers are impoverished.

The enormous disparities between regions pose a serious structural problem for the Angolan economy, as evidenced by the fact that roughly one-third of economic activity is concentrated in Luanda and neighboring Bengo province, while several areas of the interior experience economic stagnation or even regression.

One of the economic repercussions of social and geographical inequalities has been a significant rise in Angolan private investment overseas. For reasons of security and profit, the tiny edge of Angolan society where most of the accumulation occurs wants to distribute its holdings. For the time being, the majority of these investments are concentrated in Portugal, where the Angolan presence (including that of the state president’s family) in banks, as well as in energy, telecommunications, and mass media, has become notable, as has the acquisition of vineyards and orchards, as well as touristic enterprises.

According to a study by Tony Blair Africa Governance Initiative and The Boston Consulting Group, Sub-Saharan African countries are making significant gains in well-being worldwide. Angola has improved vital infrastructure, thanks to money generated by the country’s oil growth. According to this study, little over 10 years after the conclusion of the civil war, Angola’s general quality of life has significantly improved. Life expectancy increased from 46 years in 2002 to 51 years in 2011. Children’s mortality rates decreased from 25% in 2001 to 19% in 2010, while the number of kids enrolled in elementary education has quadrupled since 2001. At the same time, the country’s long-standing social and economic inequality has not decreased, but rather worsened in every way.

Angola is currently the third biggest financial market in Sub-Saharan Africa, behind only Nigeria and South Africa in terms of asset stock (70 billion Kz (6.8 billion USD). According to Angola’s Minister of Economy, Abrao Gourgel, the country’s financial sector has grown slightly since 2002 and is currently ranked third in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Angola’s GDP would expand by 3.9 percent in 2014. (IMF). According to the Fund, solid expansion in the non-oil economy, mostly driven by strong agricultural performance, is anticipated to offset a temporary decrease in oil output.

The National Bank of Angola runs the country’s financial system, which is overseen by Governor Jose de Lima Massano. According to a Deloitte research on the banking industry, the monetary policy headed by Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), the Angolan national bank, allowed for a reduction in the inflation rate, which was set at 7.96 percent in December 2013, contributing to the sector’s development trajectory. According to projections published by Angola’s central bank, the country’s economy would expand at a 5 percent annual average pace over the next four years, aided by more private sector involvement.

Angola’s capital market opened on December 19, 2014. BODIVA (Angola Securities and Debt Stock Exchange, in English) gained the secondary public debt market, and the corporate debt market is scheduled to begin in 2015, however the stock market is not projected to begin until 2016.