Currently, there are over six million child deaths every year. However, there are few countries on earth more deadly for children than Angola, a Southwestern African province with one-fifth of its children dying before the age of five.
Despite this figure, Angola is also home to one of the most flourishing oil and mining industries, with its highest paid business people earning salaries in the billion dollar range.
Anti-corruption evaluations of Angola’s oil businesses have stated, “The Angolan procurement system is corrupt as procurement laws are inadequately enforced. Foreign investors should note that they are often encouraged to partner with Angolan companies, many of which are front organizations for government officials whose integrity and accountability are frequently questioned by observers.”
Many of these “foreign investors” are U.S. companies, which provide large sums of money to help Angola’s oil economy grow. The oil industry in Angola receives a large proportion of its funding and contributing companies from the Western world, namely Peru and the U.S.
According to the International Business Times, “U.S. oil giants ExxonMobil and Chevron Corp., as well as the UK’s BP and Angolan Sonangol operate other offshore oil projects in the country while Peru’s PlusPetrol and private Angolan-owned Somoil operate two different onshore projects. The American firm Marathon Oil (NYSE: MRO), Italy’s Eni (NYSE: ENI) and Brazilian firm Petrobras (NYSE: PBR) each own various stakes in projects there as well.”
Since the oil and mining sector is a substantial source of the country’s income, corrupt government officials often design their policies around its preservation, even to the neglect of their own people.
Op-Ed Columnist Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times has devoted much time and energy to highlight this overlooked corruption. He has published several reports and documentaries of his findings and experiences in Angola, many of which contain shocking content that is difficult to watch.
Kristof revealed that the Angolan government has reduced its healthcare funding by 30 percent, despite the fact that over 50 percent of Angolans have zero access to any type of healthcare. Highly equipped hospitals and clinic facilities do exist, but the few doctors and nurses working there are uneducated and limited in their ability to assist those in need. Not only are these doctors and nurses uneducated, but they are often forced to sell their drug shipments on the black market in order to earn a decent profit.
Kristoff states, “A generation ago, the United States supported a brutal warlord, Jonas Savimbi, in Angola’s civil war. He lost. Now, because of oil interests, we have allied ourselves with the corrupt and autocratic winner, President José Eduardo dos Santos, in a way that also will also be remembered with embarrassment.”
– Hanna Darroll