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‘Nothing remained’ for Angolans from billions of oil revenue

António Costa Silva on Monday said that Angola had fallen into a “trap” and, of the billions in oil revenues, nothing remained for the Angolan people, 45 years after independence.

António Costa Silva said the centralisation of power, which the war forced, combined with a boom in oil revenues soon after the end of the conflict, led the country, run at the time by José Eduardo dos Santos, to a situation of bad governance, embezzlement of funds, embezzlement of revenues, systems of corruption, which are absolutely iniquitous and distort the functioning of the economy.

When the war in Angola ended in 2002, oil prices were in full boom, so the country received absolutely extraordinary financial revenues, and here we have the combination of two factors that led to still greater centralisation of power, explained the manager, who worked in Angola’s state oil company Sonangol and was linked to the fight for the country’s independence.

Now, when there is the easy money of oil, even more so when decisions are centralised in one person it is much more difficult for the country to reform itself, to diversify its economy and to bet on sectors other than oil.

Angola let itself be trapped in this cycle, which, combined with bad governance, has created a great poverty trap for the country as a whole.

Botswana, which also had very significant revenues from diamonds, in contrast, used those financial revenues to develop education, health, innovation, technology and diversify the economy, Costa Silva said.

“And today it has a country that is much more prosperous and resilient than Angola,” he said.

In Angola, 45 years after independence, nothing remained for Angolan people, he said, noting that studies by several Angolan economists were blunt about the fate of those billions and billions of dollars, which were used by personal greed and not to benefit the country.

The country, on the other hand, has suffered greatly throughout this process, he noted.

The president of Partex, an oil company that was part of the Gulbenkian Foundation and is now controlled by the Thai PTTEP, said to get out of the trap the country is in, it now needs to invest in agriculture, because agriculture, even if it is basic goods, creates food, and then education and health.

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