Angolan president-elect focuses on China for reforms

4 September 2017

A few weeks before taking office as the new president of Angola, João Lourenço acknowledged that the country is in need of more incentives to attract further investment and said the Chinese historical leader Deng Xiaoping’s policies were an example of a successful reform.

In his first interview since the 23 August elections, in which the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) secured a qualified majority, Lourenço told Spanish news agency EFE he rejected the comparison with Mikhail Gorbachov, a Russian leader who brought an end to Soviet communism, and focused, rather, on Deng Xiaoping.

“We are going to work for this, but right now, Gorbachev no, Deng Xiaoping yes,” said Lourenço, who succeeds José Eduardo dos Santos, who was president of Angola for 38 years.

In the interview, Lourenço said he intended to bring more foreign investors to Angola and improve the business environment.

“For example, we will change our visa policy because it has been an impediment to the arrival of investment and we are going to fight against corruption in all its aspects against nepotism, and once these battles have been won it will be easier to attract more investments to the country,” said Lourenço.

Diversifying the economy remains a priority for the Angolan authorities.

“It is imperative to open our economy and forget oil to some extent. Our country, Angola, can survive on, and has resources beyond oil. We are going to create incentives in agro-industry, Angola is very large, [we have] lots of arable land, lots of water, a very favourable climate (because there is no winter) and can be a great agricultural power, like Brazil,” he said.

Lourenço also pointed to the extraction of gold and iron ore, the manufacturing industry, but also fishing and tourism, as sectors to develop.

“Angola has a long coastline, we want not only to develop coastal tourism, but also in the interior. We want investors to create infrastructure and thus create jobs. If we develop those four branches of the economy, we can solve one of Angola’s main problems, that of unemployment, especially of young people,” said the Angolan president-elect.

The privatisations to be carried out will involve, “those state companies that are dead weight for the country, which are not profitable, that are costing the State coffers a lot of money,” he said.

Sino-Angolan relations researcher Lucy Corkin has estimated the loans granted by China to Angola, which are largely secured by oil, at US$14.5 billion. (macauhub)