UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE/ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE
Edition #8 14 January 1998
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Feature: AGRICULTURE VERSUS PETROLEUM
That agriculture is the key to Angola's economic development, the sole and fastest road towards food self reliance is accepted. But, what does not seem of common agreement is the gloomy reality of a country which is becoming permanently and increasingly dependent on imports. As an analyst wrote recently, 22 years after national independence from Portugal, Angola remains "a postponed country". A country on hold. Fully revived and functional agriculture could provide the Angolan population with almost all the necessary foods, of vegetable and animal origin, and the country could well dispense for good with any type of import.
The fertile soil in almost all of Angola's 18 provinces could grow a wide variety of crops, from rice and potatoes to cassava and maize. This could fill the food baskets of the four main ethno-geographical regions of the country - north, east, centre, and south.
In the rural areas for instance it is said that in 1997 the food deficit was 541,000 tonnes against 130,000 in previous years which corresponded to an average consumption of 1,800 kcal per day per inhabitant. Experts say this is far below normal levels. On the other hand, the per capita revenue also fell below $50, equivalent to 9 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product so making low income families unable to meet their everyday basic household needs.
In the meantime, thousands of peasants ejected from their farms during the war are still scared of the risks involved in a possible return to their homes and resumption of farming, as the spectra of war has not been totally stamped out. They are afraid of losing their limbs in landmines explosions and they are also not fully confident of a real end to the armed conflict. As a result, these people are kept reliant on aid relief from abroad.
One of the reasons for this is that being one of the sectors most directly affected by the war that ground the economic infrastructure in general to ruins, agriculture has indeed been completely forgotten, along with a few other vital areas of the country's economic possibilities, because the state appears to feel protected by its promising incomes from oil.
Last year, the French firm "Elf Aquitaine" dug up a huge offshore deep water crude oil reserve in the so-called block 17 in Angola's northern Soyo region, some 200 km from Luanda, the same area where in 1996 four other giant wells were discovered. And at present a large number of foreign companies are queuing up for the concessions from the Angolan oil society "SONANGOL" entitling them to oil exploration.
Angola has a sole oil refinery which is based in Luanda, in operation since 1958, but the government recently gave the green light for the construction, and by a foreign firm, of a new refinery in the port city of Lobito in central Benguela province.
The government of the day seems to believe that they can survive eternally with the money from petroleum, and this has probably been because this has always been the main resource in financing whatsoever they found to be a priority, including the imports of luxuries and expenditure on defence and police.
It is the oil industry and almost no other that monopolized the attention of foreign investors during 1997, called by some analysts "the year of petroleum". A year full of new oil well strikes, expected to yield to the state budget millions of US dollars and raise the country's output to more than a million barrels per day in the years to come. And agriculture? It still waits for that injection of money to put Angola back on the road to self sufficiency.
1. CONGO SEEKS STRONGER MILITARY COOPERATION
After successfully intervening in the recently terminated conflict in Congo Brazzaville, Angola is now being asked to assist in training and shaping the Congolese army of the country's new president, Denis Sassou Guesso.
Colonel Yves Mutando Mongo, Congo's army chief, January 6-9 toured Angola's armed forces (FAA) headquarters in Luanda. As he put it, this was both as thanks for the help received during the battle and to get a broader knowledge of how things work in the army which helped rid them of former president Pascal Lissouba late last year.
During the visit, Colonel Mongo signed a military accord with his FAA colleague General Joao Baptista de Matos under which Congolese soldiers will be trained in Angola. Colonel Mongo describe the FAA as a bastion of peace in central Africa, very advanced in terms of military technology, and that the Congo military would have much to learn from them.
2. NEW DEADLINE FOR PEACE PROCESS COMPLETION
Angola's joint commission (JC,) which is in charge of the ongoing peace process, has set February 28 this year as a new deadline for all outstanding tasks on the 1994 Lusaka peace agreement to be fully implemented.
"We will do everything to see if this time UNITA will effectively meet the commitment," said a government spokesperson at the first JC plenary session of 1998 held in Luanda on January 9.
One of the pending tasks is UNITA responsibility as thousands of its soldiers still remain armed and many villages militarily occupied. Key obligations stipulated in the Lusaka accord are for the disarming of soldiers and the normalizing of the situation in the villages. By February 28 UNITA's tasks include the restoration of government rule in the two current UNITA headquarters, Bailundo and Andulo villages in the central provinces of Huambo and Bie, respectively.
Members of the Joint Commission are representatives of the United Nations, Angolan government, UNITA, and of the troika of observer member states (United States, Portugal and Russia).
3. ITALY CLOSES UNITA OFFICES
On January 2 Italy announced that it was both closing all UNITA offices in its country and cancelling any travel documents, visas and residence permits for the movement's officials and close relatives, as recommended by the UN Security council on October 30 1997.
In a note from the Italian embassy in Luanda it stated that this confirmed Italy's continuing full support for the ongoing peace process in Angola.
4. SECURITY COUNCIL TO DECIDE ON EXTENSION OF MONUA MANDATE
The UN Security Council is preparing to decide on a new extension of three months for the mandate of its observer mission in Angola (MONUA). This has been proposed by the world body's special envoy in Luanda Alioune Blondin Beye, diplomats have said.
The intention to extend MONUA stay stems from persistent delays in the Angolan peace plan, evident from October last year when UNITA unilaterally suspended some key operations in retaliation for the UN sanctions that were enforced. However, UN officials in Luanda have said that because of some progress in the implementation of the Lusaka peace deal, MONUA's staff could be reduced.
A programme for this has already been prepared which would from February 5 reduce the mission from an original number of 7,000 to 440.
5. ANGOLA'S SITUATION STILL CALM
UN officials in Luanda have said the general situation in Angola remained calm and has substantially improved over the last four weeks despite some "small incidents".
The small incidents are in reference to the provinces of Malanje, Lunda-Norte (north), Bie and Huila (South), where a number of powder magazines reportedly belonging to Jonas Savimbi's UNITA were uncovered, or where cases of landmines replanting and acts of banditry have occurred.
According to MONUA's public information service's head officer, Yacouba Kebe, there have also been reports of unjustified restrictions placed on the activity of UN observers in many regions of the country. He said that they were happy anyway to see that there was continued direct dialogue between the main conflicting parties, the Angolan government and UNITA movement, and particularly between the two leaders president Jose Eduardo dos Santos and Jonas Savimbi. He also expressed satisfaction at the information provided to the Joint Commission by the NGO, International Migrations Organization, in which it had clarified misunderstandings it had had with UNITA.
6. DSL DISSOLVED, REPRESENTATIVES EXPELLED OVER ILLEGAL ACTIVITY
The Angolan government has dissolved the private security company "Defence Systems Limited (DSL-London)" whose 60-member staff were immediately expelled allegedly for "running their business in an illegal way in the country".
The "Jornal de Angola," a state-owned daily, quoted the legal adviser with the interior ministry in Luanda, Mr. Simao Soares Junior, as saying that after their contract for security services in Angola expired, DSL-London "attempted to extend their activity to new areas without the consent of the authorities and using fraudulent methods".
He did not give further details but unofficial sources in Luanda say that DSL-London, which started activities in 1992, intended to offer security services at some embassies in Luanda. It is also said that the Angolan government decision to close DSL-London was partly prompted by mounting pressure from the local private security companies after DSL was rumoured to have struck a contract worth millions of dollars with the oil multinational CHEVRON, believed to be for protection of some of the oil installations in Angola.
DSL is reportedly run by former British secret services members and was contracted in 1992 to provide security services to the premises of the Angolan diamond company "Endiama," both in Luanda and in the hinterland.
7.SANTOS-SAVIMBI MEETING STILL UNCERTAIN
The planned meeting of president Jose Eduardo dos Santos with UNITA leader Jonas Savimbi in Luanda, which in December last year was postponed to early this year, remains uncertain reportedly because of delayed response from the latter on a date proposed earlier by the former. However, officials in Luanda say negotiations on the agenda for the summit are in progress with a technical commission set up in December to prepare the ground for the meeting.
A presidential spokesman, Mr. Aldemiro Vaz da ConceiÁ"o, recently announced that the two leaders had talked again on by phone on January 9, and exchanged views on speeding up the peace process in general and the arrangements for their direct talks in particular. The call occurred just hours after president Dos Santos got a message from Savimbi handed Savimbiís envoy, Mr. Isaias Samakuva, the UNITA top delegate on the Joint Commission, who had returned to Luanda after a long stay at the movement's headquarters of Bailundo in Huambo central highland province.
The presidential spokesman would not provide details on the content either of the letter or the phone call but said that the technical commission is continuing efforts to secure the technical and material conditions for the summit to take place.
8. PRESIDENTIAL SILENCE AT YEAR END
For the first time in Angola, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos did not give his traditional end of year address to the nation, and no reason was given for the silence. Every end of year Angolans are usually addressed live by their head of state through television and radio in a speech in which he delivers an account of what took place during the year and plans for the year ahead.
His silence at the end of 1997 surprised the whole nation and analysts and the man in the street are struggling with the reasons why. No official information has been given. 9. INDEPENDENT WEEKLY SURVIVES FIRE
The Luanda premises of Angola's year-old leading independent weekly, "AGORA," caught fire at dawn on January 4 in what is suspected was arson.
Firemen managed to put out the flames with the help of nearby residents. The director of the paper, Mr Aguiar dos Santos said later that police who rushed to the area acknowledged that the fire was "of criminal origin". He said that the fire caused material losses estimated at thousands of US dollars but that this would not affect the printing of this week's edition which had already been worked out.
Police are investigating.
10. TAAG SETTLES FINANCIAL OBLIGATIONS
Angola's air company TAAG recently announced that financial obligations with other countries' airlines were in 1997 lowered to $1.5 million after a "clearing house international" of $3.5 million in 1996 and $7 million in 1994.
In the coming years TAAG will concentrate on organizational issues seeing this as "of the utmost importance to make the company ready for the challenges of the next millennium," according to the "Jornal de Angola" daily which quoted TAAG director, Mr Miguel da Costa. He said TAAG has to make the necessary improvements with a view to comfortably facing up to the phenomena of regional integration, liberalization and globalization which he said is expected to govern the economic relations in the near future.
11. $200 MILLION FOR REHABILITATION OF DAMS
Angola is to spend $200 million to have all its main dams repaired and the normal levels of power production fully restored over a 5-year period. The energy ministry said recently that the current levels of electricity supply are extremely poor because no investment had been made in this field over the last decades.
It is said that of a total of six dams placed in different provinces of Angola, only three are still working. These are Cambambe dam in the north, Biopio in the central area of the country and Matala in the south. All three of them, however, have high output deficits.
Of the total amount for the planned rehabilitation project Cambambe is to receive up $70 million, Biopio $3 million and Matala $20 million. Those out of operation are Mabubas (north) which is the oldest and came into commission in 1954. It was forced out of use in 1992 because of war-caused damage.Of the two other dams, Lumaun in central Angola was completely destroyed during the war years 1983-84, and Gove in the south was sabotaged between 1986 and 1990.
12. SPORT: ETHIOPIA WINS "DEMOSTHENES DE ALMEIDA" END OF YEAR RACE
Abreham Asefa of Ethiopia won the 42nd Angolan "Demosthenes de Almeida" a traditional 12km race organized every 31st December in the capital Luanda.
The Ethiopian athlete scored 31 47Yen30YenYen ahead of the winner of last year's winner Aurelio Mitty of Angola with 32 00Yen16Yen. The two were awarded $7,000 and $5,000 respectively. The Portuguese athlete Alfredo Braz came third with 32 19Yen46Yen.
As for women, the winner was Zimbabwe's Samulekisso Moyo who was also awarded a first prize of $5,000 .
From: AfricaNN@inform-bbs.dk (Africa_news Network) Date: Thu, 15 Jan 1998 08:39:44 +0100 Subject: ANGOLA NEWS ONLINE #8 Message-ID: <email@example.com>
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