water access in AngolaAlmost half the population in Angola does not have proper access to clean water according to a report by UNICEF.

A country endowed with some of Africa’s most precious natural resources, Angola is frequently victim to external shocks to the market. Oil accounts for roughly one-third of GDP and more than 95 percent of exports. Reliance on a market like oil, which is particularly prone to shocks, means that Angola’s economy is directly affected by external fluctuations. In fact, growth in GDP continues to fall years after a drop in oil prices in 2014. According to the World Bank, annual GDP growth in 2018 was -2.1 percent.

At-Risk Populations

Water access in Angola is an important metric in understanding the distortionary economic effects felt by low-income individuals, women and children. Without clean water and sanitation, too many Angolans are more prone to water-borne diseases like cholera which can kill someone within hours if left untreated.

Outbreaks are more common in rainy seasons when it is easy for the cholera bacteria to survive. Between February and August of 2018, there were 1,046 cases of cholera in Angola, including 21 deaths.

Programs and Initiatives that Increase Water Access in Angola

Luanda, Angola’s capital city, has a population of 7 million, 37 percent of whom rely on connected water service. Private tanker truck services account for 25 percent, public standpipes for 22 percent and illegal water connections or untreated river sources for 16 percent. Increased water access in Angola will contribute directly to labor productivity, economic growth, reduced vulnerability and an overall reduction in poverty.

The valuation of water is incredibly unique—at high quantities, it is an elastic good, but at low quantities it is inelastic. Simply put, it is a basic resource, so when water is unavailable it also becomes invaluable. Investment in water projects can help Angolans reduce time and money spent on acquiring water—especially from tanker truck services which tend to take advantage of the inelasticity of water during a shortage. A number of global organizations are working to increase water access in Angola in order to help provide people with this basic human right.

USAID Development Grants Program

From 2016-2017, the Development Grants Program focused specifically on water and sanitation in Angola. It strived to create affordable water options for consumers, and increase the maintenance of infrastructure. Initiatives such as this help local people reliably manage public resources.

The Institutional and Sustainability Support program began in 2015 to support urban water supply and sanitation services. It proposed infrastructure and development goals with the intention of helping 4.5 million people in seven provinces. This program is ongoing and specifically focuses on those provinces with the highest need for water services: Cabinda, Lunda Norte, Lunda Sul, Kuanza Sul, Bengo, Namib and Cunene.

The World Bank Projects

The most recent World Bank project supports inclusive growth, social protection and water services in Angola. One of its 2019 programs, called the Luanda Bita Water Supply Project, invested $500 million to mobilize government financing for clean water access. Another $500 million was given specifically to protect the poor and vulnerable.

This project comes after a 2017 loan of $200 million to provide 950,000 individuals with piped water services and a 2018 investment of $150 million for the 1.2 million people living in regional cities of Angola.

Women and girls are the focus of many of these investments since reducing their time spent collecting water will allow them to give back to the economy in more productive and impactful ways.

Support from these and other global organizations will help Angola to lower the risk of contracting water-borne illnesses, decrease time spent by women and children collecting water and positively impact the overall economy as a result. A basic resource such as water is often taken for granted by people living in countries with reliable water infrastructure. For those living in Angola who spend a disproportionate amount of time and money on safe water, investments in infrastructure and water supply programs are incredibly impactful. Providing the appropriate resources to aid in water access will help Angolans protect themselves from economic shocks, and give back to the global economy.

– Tera Hofmann
Photo: Wikimedia

10 Facts About Hunger in AngolaLocated in Southern Africa at the border of the South Atlantic Ocean, Angola is a country that, despite its extensive oil and diamond reserves, struggles with severe poverty and hunger. Angola’s violent 27-year civil war came to an end in 2002, and since then the government has been hard at work with multiple NGOs and citizen-led efforts to improve the nation’s economy and access the land’s remarkable agricultural potential. In doing so, the human development of Angola has been continuing at a consistent and assured pace. Here are 10 facts about hunger in Angola.

10 Facts About Hunger in Angola

  1. With a score of 29.5 on the 2018 Global Hunger Index, Angola ranks 95 out of 119 countries, placing it in the serious level of risk category. This means the state of Angola has an inadequate food supply and a high rate of child mortality and undernutrition. While this rating may appear bleak, hunger in Angola has decreased dramatically since the year 2000, when the country received a hunger score of 65.6.
  2. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has shifted in focus from emergency assistance towards long-term agricultural development and policy creation. This includes the Poverty Reduction Strategy, a policy framework dedicated to consolidating peace through the improvement of living conditions for vulnerable people. This shift is evidence of the country’s improvement in addressing the hunger of its inhabitants. Now that the organization may focus on engendering an environment with policy creation and education, Angola can have a future of economic health and food security.
  3. Along with the Poverty Reduction Strategy, the FAO is currently working to provide technical support, food security, agricultural productivity and farming education. The organization is also applying a Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Plan to minimize the effects of climatic shock and climate change on the state’s many rural communities by increasing the government capacity to implement disaster risk reduction and management, facilitate the coordination of stakeholders to implement reduction and management and educate farmers and workers on the use of technologies and practices on reduction and management.
  4. The symptoms of hunger in Angola have been on a downward trend in the recent decade, with the rates of child mortality, child wasting, child stunting and undernourishment all decreasing steadily. For child stunting, the percentage of children under five with stunted growth has decreased from 55 percent in 1995 to 30 percent in 2017. The many agricultural and political efforts in Angola to create profitable farms for rural communities and progressive policy creation emphasizing poverty reduction and food security have caused this decline.
  5. While the availability and use of basic sanitation services have been increasing at a constant rate, the percentage of the population with access to safe drinking water has remained stagnant at around 49 percent. Access to clean water is one of the most important conditions for achieving hunger relief due to its necessity in healthy nutrition and impact on health, disease prevention and cleanliness.
  6. In partnership with AGRINATURA, a group of European research organizations and universities that have been in operation for 30 years, the FAO has been creating multiple objectives to aid the issue of hunger. These include seeds cooperatives to commercialize seeds from 200 smallholder farmers; rice development, which aims to prepare and commercialize rice production; and rural entrepreneurship, which intends to provide business opportunities to agricultural entrepreneurs in Angola.
  7. The World Food Programme has been working with Angola to aid the hunger of more than 70,000 refugees, many of whom are from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It provides full-ration food assistance and specialized nutritious foods for young children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. It also offers air transportation to and from remote areas of the country.
  8. AGRINATURA has also been working with Angolan farmers to tap the potential of agricultural coffee production. Angola was once a prominent coffee producer until the Angolan civil war. Since then, coffee production decreased dramatically. Increased production of the cash crop will aid the country’s economy and, as a result, help reduce the poverty and hunger of the Angolan people.
  9. Though Angola has remarkable potential for agricultural development, the country’s agricultural GDP is only 10 percent of the national GDP. The government of Angola is currently prioritizing its agricultural sector with financial investments so that it can make use of the untapped potential and help Angolan citizens and refugees.
  10. Ending the 10 facts about hunger in Angola is The Food, Agricultural and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, an organization seeking the creation of longterm food, agricultural and natural resources policies. It is currently working in Angola with the United Nations, Angola’s government and private sector to promote poverty-reductionist agricultural policy, increase food security and promote sustainable agricultural development.

While Angola currently ranks in the bottom quarter of countries on the Global Hunger Index, these 10 facts about hunger in Angola and the country’s downward trend in poverty and hunger is incredibly assuring. With the continued work by the government, NGO’s and citizen-led efforts to create poverty-reductionist policy, move agricultural development forward and increase food security, hunger in Angola should continue to decline, and the nation should continue its path into becoming prosperous and secure.

– Jordan AbuAljazer
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare system in Angola

The Republic of Angola is a large country in Central Africa with a continuously growing population of 31 million people. Angola is on the west coast of Sub-Saharan Africa and is one of the continent’s largest countries with 1.2 million square kilometers. As a comparison, it is a little less than twice the size of the state of Texas. With the current growth, Angola’s population will triple in less than 50 years. This could pose a problem for the healthcare system in Angola as overpopulation is already becoming an issue.

Overpopulation

Angola has one of the world’s highest fertility rates as the average woman will have more than five children in her lifetime. However, the country also has the highest child mortality rate in the world with 187 per 1,000 live births. For those who do survive infancy, one in five children will die before reaching their fifth birthday. Angola ranks 23rd in the world due to its high maternal mortality rates with 477 deaths per 100,000 births.

But how exactly does the mortality rate result in overpopulation? It is all about the odds. Since one in five children on average die before they reach the age of five, families are more inclined to have more children so they have a higher chance to have at least one child reaching adulthood. A number of causes are responsible for the deaths in Angola. Among them are malaria, acute respiratory and diarrhoeal diseases, tetanus, malnutrition and more. More than just because of these initial causes, the mortality rate is so high due to the inadequate health system still being rebuilt.

A weak healthcare system

The healthcare system in Angola is split into two parts: private and public. A majority of the hospitals and clinics are close to the capital, Luanda, and very few are located in other parts of the country. Although treatment at the public level is free, the majority of the population is still limited when it comes to medical care. Due to the understaffed, underfunded and underprepared personnel, often times locals and visitors alike choose to receive treatment at the private level instead. While private clinics are considered to be better than public clinics, there is still much to improve. Pharmacies are mostly in the capital and are often extremely understocked. Hospitals will sometimes lack the necessary equipment or funds for important procedures. Angola also faces a significant shortage of physicians, with only 2,000 in the entire country.

By improving the healthcare system in Angola, the mortality rate would decrease enough to stabilize the fertility rates. Vaccines can heavily improve the current health of Angola’s population and prevent diseases from spreading. Currently, 929 health facilities out of 2409 perform routine vaccination activities. With access to sustainable clinics that provide vaccines throughout the country, the healthcare system in Angola would start to improve the lives of the citizens and lower the mortality rates.

Through strategic planning and patience, the healthcare system in Angola will be able to stabilize the current health status of its residents and help slow the overpopulation process in the country.

– Madeline Oden
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Consequences of Interconnected Poverty: Angola and The DRC
The latest story in a seemingly endless news cycle about violence and mining in central Africa focuses on the neighboring countries of Angola and The DRC (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). Both countries are mineral rich, but this story, along with many others, is rooted in the poverty that resulted from the exploitation of these resources by Western countries. 

The Violence Between Angola and the DRC

How did Angola come to host such vast numbers of DRC migrants and refugees that a humanitarian crisis was possible? In recent years, many Congolese diamond miners have crossed the border between Angola and the DRC to take advantage of Angola’s mining industry. In the DRC, the supply chain and mines are more government regulated, creating a lower profit margin for miners. Apparently, Angola’s president, João Lourenço, recently decided that, because the government was not financially benefitting from these migrations, the Congolese must leave.

This has catalyzed a series of violent expulsions by Angola’s military and police about which The United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees (UNCHR) has expressed concern. Congolese have been murdered, raped, looted, burned out of their homes, separated from their children and stranded. The Kasai Province of the DRC, which is on the country’s northeastern border with Angola, has become overcrowded with more than 200,00 of expelled migrants. The UNCHR cautions that such an influx to an already unstable region could cause a humanitarian crisis.

A Brief History of Angola

Angola and the DRC have similar, intertwined stories of colonial rule, civil wars and poverty that have been integral in creating the current problem. The Portuguese established a settlement at Luanda Bay in 1576, which eventually became the colony of Angola. Wealth from natural resources desired in the West and the Portuguese involvement in the Atlantic slave trade fueled the colony at the expense of its native people.

A revolution in Portugal allowed Angolans to gain its independence in 1975. However, leaders of different nationalist movements within Angola clashed, leading to a civil war that, with some interludes, ravished the country from 1975 to 2002 with an estimated 1.5 million Angolan lives lost and another 4 million Angolans displaced.

While the end of the civil war allowed Angola to focus on harnessing its natural resources, the country’s history still manifests in extreme poverty. The improving economy has mostly benefitted the wealthy while 20 percent of the population remains unemployed and five million Angolans live in slum conditions.

The diamond mining industry that the economy depends on was originally created for European gain, meaning that safety standards for Angolans were never established. In Africa as a whole, an estimated one million miners earn less than one dollar a day, a wage below the extreme poverty line. Besides having few wage or labor regulations in Angola, an estimated 46 percent of miners are between the ages of five and 16. It is a sad irony that the industry the economy needs fuels poverty and oppression.

A Brief History of the DRC

Angola and the DRC have followed a similar developmental pattern, and therefore, experience poverty similarly. The DRC has also progressed from colonial rule to civil wars and violence, creating poverty that manifests in a growing gap between the rich and poor and an economy based on unjust mining conditions. This led to the violence and conflict between the two countries that are so prevalent in the current news cycle.

The area that now constitutes the DRC dates back to The Berlin West African Conference in 1884-45, where the Great Powers of Europe at the time officially divided the land, making their own colonial boundaries that ignored tribal and ethnic distinctions. After the division, Belgium’s King Leopold II officially began exploiting the DRC’s natural resources and its inhabitants with slave labor.

The DRC became independent in 1960. However, the instability of the new government and continued attempts of outside involvement from Belgium led to the Congo Crisis, essentially five years of violence and political instability. Another civil war, involving Angola and most of the surrounding area in what some term Africa’s World War, consumed the region from 1997-2003.

Because these wars were rooted in the colonial past, infrastructure and stability were lacking. An estimated six out of seven people in the DRC live on less than $1.25 a day. Approximately 2.9 million Congolese have been internally displaced by the violence. Since Belgium focused on the abundant natural resources, jobs like mining became the main vocation for Congolese. Additionally, Belgium neglected to oversee education in the DRC, leaving many unequipped for jobs outside the mines. The DRC once supplied a fourth of the world’s diamond supply, but that number has dropped significantly in recent years, in favor of other resources like cobalt, leaving the remaining diamond miners even less prosperous.

Interconnected Poverty Between Angola and the DRC

Angola and the DRC have become linked as these DRC miners seek opportunities across the border. The countries’ colonial pasts have made them dependent on natural resources as part of their attempts to combat poverty and recover from civil war. But, in this case, attempts to financially recover have led to more violence as both the Angolan government and the DRC’s miners strive to earn enough money from diamond sales.

There is a political undercurrent as well due to the DRC’s President Joseph Kabila’s refusal to step down since his maximum constitutional mandate ended in 2016. Interconnected government concerns due to the close proximity and a historical tendency for government conflict to become violent have been part of Angola and the DRC’s relationship for years.

In Africa’s World War, Angola supported a rebel coalition that removed DRC military dictator Mobutu Sese Seko from power in 1997, assisted the DRC in combating rebel movements from Rwanda and Uganda in 1998 and supported President Joseph Kabila at the start of his term. This war caused many refugees to seek asylum in Angola in the first place, and fear of another such conflict if Kabila does not step down, seems to be reverberating in the current violent expulsion.

However, based on the economic growth seen since the war’s end, the potential exists for two countries to improve their poverty rates. Angola has seen an average annual Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increase of 8.68 percent with the help of foreign investment and high oil prices. Although in the past two years there have been GDP decreases, the overall trend is positive. The DRC’s GDP has also averaged increases since 2002, although it has fluctuated more. These growth rates reveal hope for those living in poverty in Angola and the DRC if the governments can avoid further violence and instability and begin to combat gaps between the rich and poor.

– Charlotte Preston

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About the Health Expectancy in Angola
Sometimes referred to as “healthy life expectancy” or HLE, health expectancy measures more than just the number of years a person remains alive. In fact, it is calculated by “adjusting total life expectancy for the number of years spent in poor health.” As the following list illustrates, there are many improvements yet to be made, but there is also good reason to be hopeful about the health expectancy in Angola.

Top 10 Facts About the Health Expectancy in Angola

  1. The average life expectancy in Angola is approximately 58 years for males and 62 years for women. However, these statistics leave many questions unanswered regarding the health expectancy of the country’s 13 million inhabitants. For example, in Angola, respiratory infections like pneumonia and bronchitis limit mobility and cause years of suffering before proving fatal.
  2. Improved access to clean water across Angolan villages reduces the threat of contracting diarrheal diseases, which is the leading cause of death in Angola. Thanks to a project called Angola Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) — implemented in 2016 by World Vision International — the people in Angola’s Ukuma Municipality now have clean water and far fewer incidents of illness.
  3. The average health expectancy in Angola is dismally affected by the country’s high maternal mortality rate, with 600 out of every 100,000 births resulting in the death of the mother. This statistic is exacerbated by Angola’s high fertility rate of 5.8 births per woman. A woman with a difficult pregnancy or birth outcome, including preeclampsia, preterm labor and fetal growth impairment is more likely to have these issues recur with subsequent births. She is also more vulnerable to seemingly unrelated illnesses like cardiovascular disease.
  4. USAID is working with the Government of Angola to help develop a health care system that serves all citizens of Angola. This includes providing family planning services for Angolan women, implementing health education to empower women with knowledge about their bodies and conducting training for healthcare workers.
  5. In Angola, one in five children dies before reaching the age of five. The odds are worse for children in rural areas with limited access to healthcare facilities. The lives of these children are not only cut short by treatable diseases like malaria, but their few years on earth are filled with pain and suffering.
  6. With the President’s Malaria Initiative (PMI), USAID is addressing Angola’s fight against malaria. By providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets, preventative treatment of expectant mothers, accurate diagnosis and swift treatment, the goal is to reduce malaria in Angola by 50 percent.
  7. In 2018, the budgetary allocations for the health and education sectors were increased. This allowed an additional 20,000 teachers and 1,700 healthcare personnel to be hired.
  8. It is estimated that an entire generation of Angolans missed the chance to attend school due to the Angolan Civil War. A sense of normalcy is slowly returning to the educational system in Angola, though only four years of primary school are compulsory. This is an important component of the health expectancy in Angola because primary school students are taught the basics of hygiene and the importance of clean drinking water, along with other crucial facts for maintaining good health.
  9. Before the development of retroviral drugs, dying of AIDS was a protracted and usually excruciating process. This remained the case for Angolans suffering from AIDS as recently as 2004. Thanks to initiatives including the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), fewer Angolans are being infected with HIV/AIDS, and those who are living with the virus are receiving treatment in a more timely manner. This extends life expectancy and makes life with the syndrome more comfortable.
  10. UNICEF has played an enormous role in improving the health expectancy in Angola. A 2018 report listed notable accomplishments including 500 latrines being built, 39,352 children being screened for malnutrition and 1,000 healthcare workers being trained for cholera prevention. These efforts are ongoing, and with help from global partners, the outlook is bright.

The Angolan Civil War, which lasted from 1975 until 2002, devastated and impoverished the country. Lack of infrastructure, little to no healthcare services and a widespread lack of clean water were just some of the difficulties the nation faced as it struggled to regroup after the war. However, today, the Angolan government is playing a proactive role in continuing to improve the collective health expectancy in Angola.

– Raquel Ramos
Photo: Flickr

New law hopes to attract new business to Angola
The future is bright for business in Angola. A new president and a new law are set to open the doors for foreign investment and more opportunities for the people in the country.

The country recently passed a new Private Investment Law. This Angola business law is set to attract lucrative businesses to the nation.

Angola Business Law

The unanimously passed Private Investment Law opens Angola’s doors to foreign investment that had previously been impeded by difficult requirements and country’s bad reputation.

The old law mandated that any foreign investor that partners with a local company or natural person has to have at least a 35 percent stake in the proposed business or investment. This requirement was intended to help Angolans partner with foreigners but turned out to be a restrictive factor for carrying out investments in the country.

To help aid international business, the new Angola business law removes the minimum amount of investment. Foreigners can now invest in Angola without paying in the hefty $1 million minimum, which was also one big barrier. The law also requires that foreign investors hire Angolan workers and provide a discrimination-free environment with good salaries, job training and a healthy environment.

The Work Behind the Law

The new Angola business law is all part of President Joao Lourenco’s plan for developing the country as an economic miracle.

After being elected and ousting former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who has been in power for nearly four decades, Lourenco promised to attract foreign investment. In recent years, the country has struggled due to its lack of a diversified economy. The country heavily relies on selling crude oil externally, as oil accounts for more than 90 percent of all exports.

Ever since a decrease in oil prices, Angola has struggled to remain competitive. The new law makes business more open to foreigners and will ideally attract new businesses that can hire Angolans and bring capital to Angola’s economy.

The Fight Against Corruption

Lourenco ran his campaign on the promise of fighting corruption within Angola’s government, but he is also very committed to helping business thrive in his country.

“We are very committed to removing a major obstacle to doing business in Angola, which is the so-called phenomenon of corruption,” he told in an interview with Euronews. “So, this is a struggle that is difficult, it will take some time but we are prepared to face this giant problem of corruption and we are sure that we will win.”

By opening his country for foreign business and tackling barriers, he encourages large corruptions and wealthy investors to consider Angola.

Chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, Zandre Campos, is particularly encouraged by the law. He stated that the future is bright for Angola’s economy and its investment opportunities. All of the elements included in the law can greatly contribute to the growth of businesses, research, and trade, which is crucial for the country.

The world should watch Angola in the coming months to see if this law attracts foreign business and helps the nation build its economy. If nothing else, parliament’s nonpartisan stand and President Lourenco’s work thus far are very encouraging for the country.

With the new Angola business law, the future looks bright for Angola’s economy and workers.

– Sarah Stanley

Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Angola
Angola, located on the western coast of Southern Africa, has a current population of over 31 million people. Unfortunately, many men, women and children continue to live in poverty and are going hungry. The current Global Hunger Index score of the country is 32.5. Luckily, there are several if not many organizations that have a desire to eradicate the country’s hunger epidemic. Below are the top 10 facts about hunger in Angola.

Top 10 Facts about Hunger in Angola

  1. While the number of undernourished people in 2015 was at 14 percent (according to UNICEF), malnutrition is affecting many children within the country, with a 37 percent prevalence of moderate and severe stunting.
  2. According to the World Vision, the civil war that had lasted for 27 years is still affecting the people of Angola, despite the fact that it has ended in 2002. Because of this as well as the drought in 2015, malnutrition and food insecurity rates have increased.
  3. According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), farmers are unable to access certain agricultural resources, preventing the production of crops that also leads to food insecurity.
  4. The Salesian Missions is an organization that aspires to help children and families in poverty and provides aid to their needs. Their mission and focus are not only in providing training and educational programs to the youth, but they also deliver meals in Luanda to about 40 students who are undernourished. This program was able to purchase and provide food for many boarding students in the city.
  5. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is working in Angola in order to not only help with the productivity of the citizens but also help nourish and provide food for many of the Angolan people. According to FAO, their assistance will be created in accordance with 2018-2022 Country Programming Framework (CPF) that focuses on areas regarding food security, management of resources and strengthening farming productions. Because people are going hungry in Angola, FAO is helping regarding methodology and a Farmer Field School.
  6. FAO also supports a policy and strategy regarding the hunger epidemic in Angola. This strategy is called the National Food Security and Nutrition Strategy (ENSAN) and was implemented in 2009. This strategy works to provide not only access to food for the people of Angola but also ensures the quality of it.
  7. Angola’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development also helps increase nutritional needs which support the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network or FANRPAN for short. FANRPAN is a nonprofit organization that promotes and suggests strategies for food, agriculture and natural resources including developing activities and opportunities for development.
  8. Rise Against Hunger is an organization and global movement that desires to eradicate hunger. They provide aid and assistance to countries in need, distributing packaged meals to Angola, but to other countries around the world as well.
  9. IFAD desires to fight against hunger in Angola by providing loans to expand and increase nutritional assistance in the country. One of their activities includes helping with the expansion of food crops and fisheries.
  10. The United Nations Joint Program on Children, Food Security and Nutrition in Angola is determined to end malnutrition in children. This program desires to strengthen efforts to end hunger, advocate for decreasing food prices and improve the evaluations as well as monitoring of nutrition among the people.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Angola demonstrates that many organizations, programs and movements have every desire to eradicate the hunger epidemic. They give people hope for both a better nation and a better future for their families.

– Charlene Frett
Photo: Flickr

Credit Access in Angola
As of 2016, Angola was the United States’ fourth largest African trading partner. This is primarily due to the vast oil reserves that exist within Angola’s borders. Because of the lucrative nature of oil exports, these reserves are a crutch that Angola’s economy relies heavily upon. Oil, as a commodity, has a predictive economic effect. The global economy experiences an ebb and flow that roughly mirrors oil prices. Angola, due to its heavy reliance on oil exports, is a microcosm of this pattern, meaning that its economy is at the mercy of shifting global oil prices. As of August 2, 2018, the price of a crude oil barrel was at a moderately strong $70. This is a slight boon to Angola’s economy, but will likely be short-lived as powerful global players such as the United States and China begin maneuvering to reduce their reliance on unclean energy sources.

Economic Diversification

Economic growth and longevity in Angola are reliant on sector diversification. If the nation continues to rely heavily on its oil production, then it will not be able to achieve economic stability and robustness in the coming years. Developing and growing new economic sectors often requires start-up capital in the form of investments and loans. Despite strong financial institutions, credit portfolios are limited in Angola across both the private and public sector. Increasing credit access options in Angola is key to its success as a developing nation.

A variety of institutions and initiatives exist that aim to increase credit access in Angola. Chief among them is Angola’s own governing body, the Government of the Republic of Angola (GRA). In 2015, the GRA created both new legislation and a new agency dedicated to investment and exports. Both these initiatives were established with the hope of employing start-up capital to bolster economic diversification and reduce reliance on oil in the nation.

Credit Access in Angola

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began a program in 2014 aimed specifically at Angola’s small and medium business sectors. Credit access across these sectors is chronically low, which results in drastically reduced economic growth. USAID’s 2014 credit access program revolves around a partnership with Banco Keve, a bank headquartered in Angola’s capital, Luanda. This partnership provided the program with increased financial mobility, which allowed it to offer $4.8 million in loans to businesses lacking credit access in Angola. Ninety-six percent of these loans were utilized, and 38 percent went to women-led small- and medium-sized businesses.

Recently, credit access in Angola has received local support. This summer, the African Development Bank approved $100 million worth of credit to be received by Angola’s primary investment bank, Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI). This funding is to be focused on the development of a new facility dedicated to providing capital support for small and medium businesses involved in international trade. The timing of this deal is key, as banks in Angola have been facing difficulties of securing credit access dedicated to trade support for local businesses.           

Even as credit access in Angola has been buoyed by international and local support, it still faces significant challenges. Angola remains quite low on the World Bank’s 2018 Doing Business index, which reduces the potential for foreign investment. This is only compounded by steadily declining economic growth within the nation. Clearly, Angola is presented with a long road towards inclusive credit access and economic diversification. Luckily, more and more institutions and agencies are stepping in to contribute to the cause. With this growing support, Angola now wields an ever-expanding credit-based toolkit that will aid it in weathering an ever-changing global economic climate.   

Ian Greenwood
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Angola
How the media misrepresents Angola, a country located in Southern Africa, can be answered in its portrayal of the country as a postwar nation infested with mines, HIV epidemic and yellow fever outbreaks.

Despite the problems, the country is at the beginning of a hopeful transition after the recent 2017 elections and many organizations have partnered up with the government to provide aid.  

Post-War Effects

In 1997, Princess Diana brought the world’s attention to the war-stricken Angola. She visited mine-infested areas in an effort to advocate their removal. Mines from about 22 countries lie under various regions in Angola now.

The civil war that lasted for 27 years took the lives of 1.5 million people. Unfortunately, the town of Cuito Cuanavale still lives with the constant reminder of those horrific days as the villagers nearby are exposed to an 18-mile area covered in active mines. 

HIV Epidemic

UNAIDS reported in 2016 that HIV remains a challenge in Angola as 130,000 adults have died as a result of it, while 90,204 people are receiving treatment for the disease. HIV is the third cause of death in Angola.

Yellow Fever Scare

In 2016 the outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, in Angola took the lives of 376 people. Angola had not seen such an outbreak in the last 30 years.

Successful Partnerships

The Halo Trust, UNAIDS and UNICEF are examples of what happens when organizations partner up with the government to create successful outcomes for its citizens. Angola has been able to recover from a history of debilitating conflicts because of these partnerships.

  • The Halo Trust

Angola aims to eliminate all its mines by 2025 and The Halo Trust, a humanitarian organization that was created in 1988, is helping them achieve it.

Thanks to their efforts, Huambo province will soon be a mine-free area. The organization has already eliminated a total of 95,000 landmines in Angola.

It uses drone technology to research areas that cannot be accessed due to active mines and help map out the affected rural regions.

Cutato village is a successful example of its efforts as people now have access to schools and clinics. They are even able to do simple housework such as washing clothes in the river as the area is mine-free.

They also receive help from the US Department of State, that has given about 124 million dollars in aid to clear the postwar areas of Angola since 1993.

  • United Nations HIV Aid

Another fact about how the media misrepresents Angola is the stigma of HIV that Africa carries in the global scenario.

However, UNAIDS, a UN partner organization that leads the HIV battle in African countries is changing that. In Angola, where 260,000 adults live with HIV, education is the only way to decrease the number of HIV cases.

The youth in Angola are sexually active as early as 15 years old, however, only 51 percent of males know that the use of condoms prevents HIV spread.

For this reason, a comprehensive sexuality education program was implemented in schools and communities in Angola to raise awareness of HIV prevention. 3,000 teachers have been trained to reach out to Angolans with UNAIDS funds so far.

UNAIDS also has a 30 million dollar HIV grant for the years 2017 and 2018 to keep working in the fight against AIDS in Angola.

  • UNICEF’s Yellow Fever Action Plan

“While many children cry when they receive the vaccine, Isabel grins from ear to ear,” reported UNICEF from the town of Cacuso when the 10-year-old girl rejoiced at getting her yellow fever vaccine in 2016.

The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Yellow Fever Control partnered up with UNICEF and provided 20 million vaccines to fight Angola’s yellow fever outbreak in 2016.

The numbers keep getting better as 16 million people out of a population of 25 million people in Angola are now protected against yellow fever. Communication is the key to the success of this type of program as UNICEF trained 3,000 people to educate communities about the viral disease.

 

Despite the long period of wars that hindered the country’s growth for decades, now it is the time for doable action plans to change how the media represents Angola.

Angola has a slow recovery ahead from its devastating civil war but the future is bright if its leaders put in the same amount of effort as these organizations to address its challenges.

– Nijessia Cerqueira
Photo: Google

Education and Literacy in Angola
For 27 years—from the end of Portuguese colonial rule in 1975 until 2002—civil war plagued Angola. Over a quarter century of war left the nation’s infrastructure in ruins, and the education system was no exception. Innumerable school buildings had been destroyed, and the population was largely destitute of the professionals and educators necessary to reboot an education system.

As such, it has been a struggle to rebuild the education system in Angola, but great strides are being made. At the end of the civil war, 72 percent of youths ages 15 to 24 were literate (83 percent of males and 63 percent of females). By 2014, that number had risen to 77 percent (with 85 percent of males and 71 percent of females being literate). The number of children attending school in 2002 was roughly two million. By 2013, attendance had tripled, with around six million students enrolled.

What accounts for this progress? And what challenges still lie ahead for Angola?

Improvements and Successes: What’s Working

Achieving universal basic education is one of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. After the end of the civil war, Angola’s Ministry of Education, in conjunction with UNESCO, developed a National Strategy on Literacy and School Recovery aimed at rebuilding the nation’s destroyed education system and spreading literacy throughout Angola. The national strategy is focused on mobilizing the efforts of various local, national and international NGOs, nonprofits and volunteer organizations to act as a single united front aimed at improving education and literacy in Angola.

In recent years, UNICEF has begun an initiative in Angola to digitally collect data on education, the state of schools and regions where schools are lacking. UNICEF plans to use this data to address issues with education and literacy in Angola scientifically. By mapping where schools are performing well and where schools are not (or are not in existence), UNICEF hopes it can direct resources to the right places.

Continued Challenges to Education and Literacy in Angola

Despite the civil war having ended more than 15 years ago, Angola is still facing—and will continue to face—challenges in its education system that date back to these years of violence. Primary education in Angola is compulsory and free for four years for children between the ages of 7 and 11, but the government estimates that approximately two million children are not attending school.

In areas where classrooms were completely demolished during the war and have not yet been rebuilt, classes typically are held outside and often must be canceled due to bad weather. Where classrooms do exist, they tend to be overcrowded and undersupplied, with outdated or insufficient books and pencils as well as not enough desks and chairs.

The government continues to work to alleviate these problems. Between 2016 and 2017, Angola opened 200 new schools, and numerous humanitarian organizations, including UNICEF, Inda Cares and Develop Africa, work to collect and send donated school supplies to Angola. UNICEF’s digital data collection is also of use here, as the organization hopes this data will help track both where help is most needed and the long-term impact of sending school supplies.

Furthermore, 27 years of fighting took a toll on the state of professionals in Angola.  The Angolan government employs roughly 17,000 teachers. Of these, it is estimated that 40 percent are underqualified for their positions. Today, less than 0.7 percent of Angola’s population attends universities; a lack of higher education perpetuates the teacher shortage problem. Additionally, the Angolan government estimates that an additional 200,000 teachers are needed in order to enroll all children in schools with appropriately sized classrooms. Finances as well as a lack of educated professionals prevent the government from hiring these needed teachers.

Looking Forward

Since the end of its civil war, Angola has made tremendous strides in bettering its education system and moving towards achieving universal primary education for all. But challenges still exist for the sub-Saharan African nation, where a lack of infrastructure, school supplies and educated professionals continue to impact the education of Angolan students. However, the commitment to improving education and literacy in Angola—seen in both the Angolan government and international organizations like UNICEF—offers hope that progress will continue to be made and that literacy and school attendance rates will continue to improve.

– Abigail Dunn
Photo: Flickr