Angola Wants Mining To Broaden Its Economic Base

Angola wants its mining sector to become one of the major contributors to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to be one of the most important sources of employment. So asserted Geology and Mines Minister Francisco Queiroz in his address in Luanda on Mineworkers Day, April 27 whose theme was ‘Together for the National Geology Plan’. The Minister also noted that both these objectives formed part of government’s Geology and Minerals Strategic Plan.

For the growth in minerals exploration to contribute more to the national GDP and to the transformation of the lives of the inhabitants of the diamond exploration regions, [minerals exploration] is being increasingly developed and will be one of the major sources of employment in the country over the years,” he affirmed. “In order to contribute more to the national GDP, we have to know the geological potential and develop thematic mapping, launch new projects and observe the rules contained in the minerals code.”

The Minister’s remarks were reported by the Angolan news agency Angop. He further marked Mineworkers Day by travelling to the province of Lunda Sul, in the east of the country and bordering the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There, he visited a housing project at the Tchiuzo diamond mine.

The Angolan economy remains dominated by the oil and gas sector. A few weeks ago, the country’s National Statistics Institute (INE is its abbreviation in Portuguese) released its analysis of the Angolan economy, undertaken using the methodology recommended by the United Nations (UN) for the period 2002 to 2010. This revealed that the country’s efforts to diversify its economy away from hydrocarbons had failed. In 2002, all the non-hydrocarbons sectors together accounted for 55.5% of national GDP. By 2010, this had increased by just 1%, to 56.5%.

This has demolished calculations by the country’s Ministry of Planning (which rejoices in the Orwellian acronym of MinPlan), that used a methodology not endorsed by the UN which indicated that the non-hydrocarbons sectors’ collective contribution to GDP over this period had increased by about 10%.

According to MinPlan, in 2002, all the non-oil and gas sectors were responsible for 43.9% of GDP, rising to 54.1% in 2010. Interestingly, the INE recalculations show that the hydrocarbons sector was actually smaller to begin with, at 44.5% of GDP in 2002, compared with MinPlan’s 56.1%.

The INE statistics also indicate, during the same period, that the Angolan economy grew less rapidly than MinPlan had said. According to the Ministry, from 2003 to 2010, the country’s average annual growth rate had been 12.1%. The INE now says it was actually 8.9%. Instead of being the third-fastest growth rate in the world, it was the tenth.

MinPlan’s error was not uniform throughout this period. For the years 2003, 2004, 2008, 2009 and 2010, there are only small discrepancies between the INE and MinPlan figures. It is in the period 2005 to 2007 that the big difference is found. MinPlan estimated GDP growth during these three years at an annual average rate of 20.8%, whereas the INE now shows it to have been 13.5%. Interestingly, there were general elections in Angola in 2008.

Meanwhile, a separatel bilateral meeting was recently held between Angola and the DRC in the town of Dundo, in the Angolan province of Lunda Norte (directly north of Lunda Sul), to analyse the Kimberley Process in the two countries. The Kimberley Process is an international initiative involving governments, miners and non-governmental organisations to prevent rebel groups using diamonds to fund their operations.

The meeting took place over two days, Angop reported, involving the identification of areas of co-operation, discussions and exchanges of experiences regarding smuggling, illegal immigration into diamond exploration areas and fighting fraud and money laundering.

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