Angola: Portugal is springboard for expansion of relations with Europe

24 November 2008

Luanda, Angola, 24 Nov – The nomination of Assunção dos Anjos, ex-Angolan ambassador in Lisbon, to the post of Foreign Affairs Minister is seen as a means of strengthening relations with Portugal and thus with Europe.

Anjos established in Portugal a network of relations and influences considered vast, and before that he was the ambassador in Madrid and Paris, also maintaining important contacts in the UK and Belgium, according to the Africa Monitor Newsletter.

Known for his affability and good manners, the successor to João Miranda is also highly trusted by Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, and is seen as the “right man” for the current phase of Portuguese-Angolan relations, in which close economic relations “bind” Lisbon and Luanda.

Through state-owned oil company, Sonangol, Luanda has attracted important Portuguese companies from the sectors of finance (Millennium BCP, the biggest private bank, with a strong international presence) and energy (Galp Energia, involved in oil refining and trade as well as oil exploration in Angola and Brazil, where it is involved in the promising pre-salt reservoirs in Bacia de Santos).

After the elections the files were closed on the so-called Angolanization of the stake of Portuguese capital in Angola, with the entry of Sonangol and Banco Privado Atlantico into Millennium Angola and Unitel of Banco Fomento Angola into the BPI group – both with direct or indirect stakes not far short of 50 percent.

At the same time, Angola has become the main destination for Portuguese exports outside the EU, even overtaking the US, immediately decisive for economic growth and it is also increasingly important as a source for Portuguese oil imports.

According to Africa Monitor, it is through this growth in mutual economic interests that Angola is looking to develop influences that would make of Lisbon and close relations with the Portuguese authorities, a springboard for promoting a more positive image of the country within Europe.

Angolan president, José Eduardo dos Santos, has assumed the role of promoter of Angola on an international scale, requiring its affirmation in key areas around the world.

Until now, this affirmation has been more visible in Africa, particularly in military and diplomatic intervention in the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo, but also in the political process in Zimbabwe.

He has also promoted Angolan interests in the strategic Gulf of Guinea region, which has made Sao Tome and Principe an economic and political base.

The Community for Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) arena will be another opportunity for Angolan diplomatic activity, following a reinforcement of economic and political interests in Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde.

In 2010, in Luanda, the CPLP presidency will be handed over by Portugal. (macauhub)