A vigorous Angola springs back to life
Updated: 2014-04-29 15:52
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The Port of Luanda is Angola's largest and is now undergoing a massive facelift. Photo Provided to China Daily
Ten years ago, Angola was in a desperate situation: Years of civil war and political instability had ravaged the country and depleted its resources, while the infrastructure was in tatters.
Today, however, this Southwest African nation is poles apart from that world, with rebuilding, rehabilitation and foreign investment programs - most notably from China - helping its revitalization.
Angola is in the middle of a transformation process and, as is the case with any country whose economy is based on the export of goods in global demand, it needs to invest in its transport network to expedite its international trade.
The maritime infrastructure is the entry-exit point of nearly all of Angola's trade, so it is the key to the national development plan.
Before slowing down in 2009, the South-West African nation achieved 11.1 percent average annual growth in GDP since 2001, an average that outpaced even China.
The balance of trade was tipped heavily in Angola's favor. Exports, of which crude oil comprises the lion's share, grew strongly in 2010, while imports were only one third of the total exported.
Volumes are now rising sharply in both directions. Exports expanded strongly last year, while imports, originating mostly from Africa's leading trade partner China, rose only at half the pace of exports.
Export earnings are the fuel for the government budget for 2011, a third of which has been set aside for social projects, and they also help pay for imports, whose importance is vital if Angola is to achieve its ambitious goals for national reconstruction.
Years of conflict decimated Angola's production and industrial capacity to the extent that the nation still relies heavily on construction materials, machinery, vehicles and even food from abroad.
As a result the nation's ports are braced for a massive increase in traffic - as much as five million tons in additional goods between 2011 and 2015 requiring reception, handling, logistics and storage, according to deputy minister of transport Jos Joo Kuvingua.
The point of entry for more than 80 percent of all imports to Angola, the Port of Luanda will be handling much of the increase.
"If you take into account the cost of maritime transportation and the investment in ports required to purchase equipment and merchandise, you can appreciate the economic and financial importance of the port company in Luanda," said Francisco Venncio, the port company's chairman.
"I believe we will continue to be the port of reference for investment over the next few years."