In 2017, the government also advanced – before concluding in 2018 – with the settlement of debts to several oil companies that had been accumulating since 2002, for the amount of 1.5 billion dollars.
In late 2018, agreement was reached with the IMF for an Extended Financing Program for the 2018-2021 period for a total amount of $3.7 billion. Furthermore, three financing agreements were reached with the World Bank for the total of $1.32 billion.
In 2019, the Government launched the Privatisations Program that planned to dispose of 195 state companies or other assets, with 32 classified as benchmark companies. Through to 2022, 94 state companies and assets were sold off and the state registered 566.33 billion kwanzas (around €1 billion). Public tenders to employ new state employees, which had been halted due to the crisis in in 2014, were again restarted in 2018 and 2019, particularly for the health and education sectors and thereby recruiting 31,875 new members of staff for these two sectors.
In June 2019, the Government launched PIIM – the Integrated Municipality Intervention Program. The Executive sourced two billion dollars from the Sovereign Fund to build municipal level infrastructures and generate employment, especially for young persons. The implementation of PIIM, which remains ongoing, seeks to undertake 1,700 projects across the entire country.
There was also the enactment of a new Private Investment Law that, among other measures, enabled foreign direct investment in Angola of any amount and without the requirement of incorporating an Angolan partner into the shareholding structure.
AIPEX – the Private Investment and Export Promotion Agency of Angola became a single window for promoting and attracting private investment and providing support for exports. Through to the end of August 2019, AIPEX registered a total of 178 investment intentions with a potential total of around $1.65 billion and the capacity to produce 13,900 direct employment positions.
A large part of these corrective measures underwent implementation in 2018 and 2019. This resulted in Angola rising two places in the global index evaluating national Business Environments in 2018.
In 2022, the new government moved to correct the launch of the first Angolan satellite with the country henceforth counting on its own space satellite.
Spotlight on the PGR
The PGR – the Attorney-General of the Republic used to be a practically unknown figure in the Angolan justice system. Between 2012 and 2017, the Angolan PGR had opened only 18 cases in a country experiencing rampant corruption.
In 2018, there was the restructuring and relaunch of the National Directorate of Prevention and Combat of Corruption which, in comparison with the 18 PGR cases prosecuted between 2012 and 2017, advanced with 192 inquiry processes between 2017 and 2019, thus, in two years, there were ten times the cases than in the five preceding years.
Among these processes were those that grabbed headlines worldwide and even came with its own international dossier, Luanda Leaks. The revelations of a consortium of journalists portrayed how the business empire of Isabel dos Santos and Sindika Dokolo, her recently deceased husband, had syphoned off fortunes from the Angolan state. This triggered a judicial and political battle between the first-born daughter of former President José Eduardo dos Santos and the Angolan state that remains ongoing.
Equally, the eldest son of the ex-president, Zenu dos Santos, was found guilty of the crimes of fraud and the trafficking of influence in a process that became known as the “500 million case”.
In addition, the former Minister of Transport, Augusto da Silva Tomás, another prominent figure in Angolan politics this century, was tried and found guilty.
These legal cases, and others, reflect a turning point in the Angolan justice system. The climate of impunity that had shrouded Angolan politics has begun to slowly dissipate.
In December 2018, there was the launch of SENRA – the National Asset Recovery Service, an entity under the auspices of the PGR that played an important role in the investigations that led to the reaching of an agreement between the Sovereign Fund of Angola and the entity undertaking its asset management, with the former receiving capital of $2.35 billion as well as property assets owned internationally with a total value in the vicinity of $1 billion.
Through these restructurings and actions, the Attorney-General of the Republic demonstrated signs of its existence and finally established its reputation both nationally and internationally.
The people’s lives
The quality of life of the Angolan population has registered significant improvements over the last two decades. A considerable middle class has emerged who are also more demanding as regards the design and implementation of the public policies in effect. Despite the significant progress made since the first year of peace, there remain problems across the housing, sanitation, education and healthcare sectors. According to the national statistics institute, the INE, since 2014, the population has grown by a rate of 3% even while growth in the economy and in public policy expenditure designed to improve the standards of living of Angolans, has not been able to keep pace.
In the education sector, following the advent of peace, Angola underwent a genuine revolution. The number of students registered in primary and secondary schools tripled while university students boomed almost tenfold through to 2012. Nevertheless, there still remains the challenge of improving the quality of teaching which, in broad brush terms, also undermines the quality of the ‘made in’ Angola labour.
In his State of the Nation speech in October 2018, President João Lourenço recognised that the campaign to cut the unemployment rate, through the creation of new jobs, should be constant and not only the responsibility of the government but also involving the private sector. Two years later, in October 2022, and making the same speech, the President reported that a total of 491,000 new jobs had been created in the 2018-2022 period.
In order to minimise the needs of the most vulnerable members of society, those living on less than a dollar per day, the government designed and implemented a direct transfer payment system: the Kwenda Program that gives support to families facing extreme poverty and great vulnerability. Through to October 2022, over 800,000 persons had been registered and almost 600,000 were already in receipt of a monthly pension of 8,000 kwanzas (around 15 euros). Following the success of this program, the government is now studying the scope for broadening the scope to more households while raising the amount from 8,000 to 11,000 kwanzas (around 20 euros).
In addition to improving the living standards of those facing extreme poverty, there is also the ongoing Integrated Local Development and Combat of Poverty Program, national and multi-sectoral in scope, this seeks to foster socioeconomic inclusion and involves initiatives designed to provide primary healthcare, access to water and sanitation, schools meals, as well as employment assistance, among other measures.