The presidential palace in Luanda Angola has been the scene of a ballet of investors in recent weeks. After German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and British trade envoy Baroness Lindsay Northover, Emmanuel Macron is expected to follow in their footsteps in May. The common denominator: the search for good positions in one of Africa’s high potential economies.
France in Angola
Initially expected at the beginning of the year, Emmanuel Macron should finally go to Angola for a state visit next May, reveals La Lettre du Continent. If it is maintained, this visit will take place two years after Joao Lourenço’s trip to Paris, where he presented investment opportunities in his country to a hundred French businessmen. While one of his priorities since coming to power has been to attract foreign investment, his seduction operation has continued in Europe and America, with a focus on the World Economic Forum 2020 in Davos.
Americans encouraged by anti-corruption fight
However, since the Angolan president gave a new dimension to the “hunt” for former oligarchs with the seizure of the assets of Isabel dos Santos – the daughter of his predecessor José Eduardo dos Santos – the presidential palace in Luanda has been the scene of an investor ballet. Is this just a coincidence of agendas? During his stay in the Angolan capital on Sunday 16 February, the American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo did not fail to praise the State’s anti-corruption strategy, which has enabled it, as a reminder, to recover more than 5 billion dollars in 2019. For Pompeo, the current environment is conducive to significant U.S. investment in the future.
London and Berlin for concretization
The next day, Baroness Lindsay Northover – sent by Boris Johnson -, visited Luanda for the eleventh time in four years. Clearly motivated by the need to find new sources of growth for the post-Brexit United Kingdom, Northover expressed the desire of the British to increase investment in Angola. While London had already laid a considerable foundation at the Africa-UK Forum held in January, hydrocarbons, infrastructure, financial services, renewable energy, and agriculture are the main sectors that interest the British. To further galvanize their companies, the British export financing agency has increased its envelope of £200 million for entities tempted by investment in Angola.
The second-largest African oil producer behind Nigeria, Angola has suffered the full force of the fall in prices in recent years, plunging GDP growth to 0.7% in 2017, compared to 13.8% in 2008. A decline that represents a major challenge for the current president according to analysts. “The challenge for the Angolan authorities is to propel the economy to a growth rate of 6 to 7%. And Angola has all the potential to achieve a growth rate above 10%”, confided the economist Carlos Rosado in an interview with La Tribune Afrique. Now forced to diversify its economy, Luanda is seeking to bring back foreign investors who had deserted the country, against a backdrop of complaints about the opacity of the business environment. The vast plan to privatize 195 public companies – including Sonangol and Endiama – announced last year is one of the state’s strategic cards to bring back international capital.
Meanwhile, the Germans, British and French are not the only ones showing interest in the Angolan market. In the airline sector, Qatar has already expressed interest in acquiring 39% of the national carrier. Russia is also pushing its pawns in the market. Over the next four to five years, Uralchem will build a fertilizer production plant with a capacity of 1.2 million tons, in partnership with the Angolan group Opaia. Sweden is positioning itself in the digital economy.
In addition, Angola is considerably supported by multilateral financial institutions. The African Development Bank (ADB) has been financing a study for economic diversification since last fall. For the umpteenth time, the World Bank has just released a loan of 900 million euros for economic reforms. The spotlight remains on Luanda to see how the country is achieving its ambitions.
To learn more about Angola, check the story of one of its citizen HERE