Saturday, December 29, 2012

Angola on Track to Leave List of Least Developed Countries

The Committee for Development Policy of the Social Council of the United Nations (UNCTAD) announced in September that Angola became a candidate for the graduation process of the Group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs), on a list that will be approved in 2015.
Angola was recommended by the UNCTAD to work to get out of the LDCs, taking into account the advances in macro-economic and social achievements.

Least developed country (LDC) is the name given to a country which, according to the United Nations,  exhibits the lowest indicators of socioeconomic development, with the lowest Human Development Index ratings of all the countries in the world. The concept of LDCs originated in the late 1960s and the first group of LDCs was listed by the UN in November 1971. A country is classified as a Least Developed Country if it meets three criteria:
  • Poverty (three-year average GNP per capita of less than US $905, which must exceed $1,086 to leave the list)
  • Human resource weakness HCI ( based on indicators of nutrition, health, education and adult literacy) and
  • Economic vulnerability IVE (based on instability of agricultural production, instability of exports of goods and services, economic importance of non-traditional activities, merchandise export concentration, handicap of economic smallness, and the percentage of population displaced by natural disasters).

For the countries classified with this distinction, potential benefits fall into four main areas: (a) preferential market access, (b) special treatment regarding World Trade Organization-related obligations, (c) official development assistance and other forms of developmental financing, and (d) technical cooperation and other forms of assistance. The majority of LDCs are in Sub-Saharan Africa.

According to the UN rules, the LDCs must meet two of the three criteria in the upper limits established for inclusion, or having a high level of GNP per capita which is twice that of the value stipulated for inclusion.  Angola's GNP is sufficient for exclusion for the list, even though the country has not reached the required values in any of the other criteria, considering that following the end of the war in 2002 the Angolan GDP grew at an average of 12%.

In the last three decades, only three countries left the group of LDCs, namely Botswana, Cape Verde and Maldives.  (Angola Njango, UNCTAD, wikipedia)

Friday, December 21, 2012

Angola: Leading in African Telecommunications


Angola’s largest wireless operator by subscribers, Unitel, recently in the last few months launched its 4G LTE services.  Angola's second largest provider, Movicel launched Africa's first commercial LTE network in the country's capital, Luanda with its 4G launch in April 2012.

Both of these LTE service offerings are currently available only in the capital Luanda, but both operators hope to expand coverage to other provinces.  At the end of September 2012 Unitel claimed 8.1 million subscribers, giving it a subscriber market share of 59.1%, comfortably ahead of rival operator Movicel with 41.9%. 

Movicel's LTE network, built with technology from Chinese telecom equipment makers ZTE and Huawei, is designed to enable up to 120M bps Internet access.  LTE is still being piloted by Africa's largest mobile operator, MTN,  in South Africa, making Angola the first country in Africa to have a commercial LTE network.

China's work with Angola to launch the first LTE network in the region is a sign of how China is helping African countries develop the telecom sector in exchange for natural resources, and of Chinese telecom companies' dominance in the African mobile market. In Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana, China has spent millions of dollars to develop communication infrastructure in exchange for licenses in extractive industries and construction. (PC Advisor)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Friday, December 7, 2012

Angolan Food: Mukua


Mukua is the traditional Angolan dried fruit from the emblematic baobab tree. The fruit has a hard shell like a coconut and is a whole food, which is naturally dried on the baobab tree, resulting a ready to consume powder containing typically 8-12 % water.

Inside the hard shell are seeds, which are coated with whitish powder, which is the fruit pulp. The white globules seen in the photograph are the pulp with a dark seed inside. The globules are surrounded by red fibers, which are very high in certain nutrients.

The ivory-colored first pulp contains very high amounts of vitamin C, and contains significant amounts of calcium, as well as other vitamins and minerals. In addition, baobab is loaded with natural dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble. This makes it a healthy whole fruit supplement, as well as helps to add texture when added to other foods. 

In Angola, mukua, the dried baobab fruit is a popular food source. The fruit pulp is commonly sucked, or chewed in its fresh state or used to add to sauces after cooking, or as a supplement to mix with staple food such as corn meal and cassava.

When ground into a powder, it is easily water dispersible and  commonly made into a drink when mixed with water or milk, either with or without sugar.  The pulp has an acidic, almost citrusy taste, which makes a good and refreshing base for smoothies or other cold drinks.

Other uses for baobab pulp include using it as a hair rinse, milk curdling agent and a substitute for cream of tartar, among other things. When burned, it is a good repellent for cattle flies.  (excerpts from www. baobab.com)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

African Folklore: Caracal, Eland and Jackal

(A Bushman Story)  Caracal was returning home from a hunting foray when he bumped into Eland. Caracal had never seen Eland before.  Approaching warily, he said, "Good day friend! What may your name be?"

Eland struck the ground with his huge forefoot, raising a great cloud of dust.  He replied in a deep, gruff voice, "I am Eland!  Who are you?"

Caracal in awe at the size of the King of all antelopes, quietly answered, "I am Caracal." Then, in fear ran home as fast as he could.

Jackal lived nearby and, when they met, he asked Caracal what was worrying him.

"Friend Jackal, I am quite out of breath and half dead with fright.   I have just seen a fearsome looking fellow, with a large thick head and huge twisted horns.  I asked him his name and he answered, 'I am Eland'.

"What a foolish fellow you are to let such a lovely piece of flesh go untasted!" laughed Jackal.  "Tomorrow we shall go and trap Eland and eat a huge feast together."

Next day, the two set off to look for Eland. But as they appeared over a hill, Eland saw them.  He ran to his wife and said, "I fear that this is our last day, for Caracal and Jackal are coming to kill us. What shall we do?"

"Do not be afraid," said Eland's wife. "Take our child and make him cry as if he were hungry." Eland hesitated, but then he saw the reason for his wife's request.  He did as she said, and went to meet Jackal and Caracal.

As soon as Caracal saw Eland, he was overcome with fear. Jackal was ready for this and he tied Caracal to himself with a leather thong.  In this way, they would stand steadfast.

Eland prodded his calf with his horns.  This made the youngster bleat and cry in surprise. Then Eland called out, "You have done well, friend Jackal.  You have brought Caracal for us to eat. Hear how my youngster cries for food."

At these frightening food, Caracal was terrified. He pleaded with Jackal to untie him but Jackal was hungry and would not hear of it.

This was more than poor Caracal could stand.  He set off at a tremendous pace to the safety of his house, dragging Jackal behind him.  Caracal didn't stop.  He pulled Jackal through bushes, over rocks, and through streams.

Eventually and exhausted Caracal reached home. Poor Jackal was scratched and bruised from his ordeal.

Eland had escaped and was never bothered by Caracal and Jackal again. And they are still in awe of this huge antelope to this day. (From "When Lion Could Fly: And Other Tales from Africa"; by Nick Greaves and Rod Clement)

Thursday, November 29, 2012

State of Angola's Disastrous Drought


Angola is now in the midst of a disastrous drought.  This is current report just released by the International Red Cross.
Drought is currently affecting 10 coastal and central highland provinces of Angola. Agricultural production has dramatically decreased and increasing water shortages have been reported. It is estimated that agricultural production will decrease by more than 400,000 tons nationally and an estimated 366,780 households (1,833,900 people) will be affected  by food security across the 10 of the 18 provinces.
The rapid assessment conducted by the Angolan National Department of Nutrition in May 2012 confirmed that most of the population, especially in rural areas, is affected by the drought. The total number of acutely malnourished children in the ten affected provinces is currently estimated at 533,000.
The assessment carried out by the Red Cross team confirmed that the situation is serious and requires immediate attention before it escalates out of hand in the coming 3-4 months. In some areas, families are sharing with livestock, few water sources that are also highly contaminated. Consequently, the possibility of outbreak of water related diseases are very high.
The Ministry of Agriculture reported a 60% decrease of average rainfall amount over the planting season resulting in 30% drop in crop production especially of cereals like maize. Total crop failure reported was recorded in some regions especially of bean crops and other drought tolerant tubers. With more than 70% of the population living below the poverty datum line, the impact will be devastating. (ICRC Nov 2012)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Housing Luanda's Street Children


Luanda (Agenzia Fides) - In Luanda, Angola, there are many children who sleep in the streets, in deserted houses or in parks, inhale gasoline to try to cope with hunger and to give themselves courage to survive on the streets. Thanks to a new initiative of the Salesian missionaries, for some of these young children a new life begins. 
The new St. Kizito home, a reception center that functions as a day and night center, children can wash themselves, eat, play and sleep. At the moment there are 600 children and young people, and every week more than 250 adolescents go to the center.

With its five million inhabitants and high crime rates Angola’s capital, Luanda, is regarded as one of the world’s most dangerous and expensive cities. The twenty-seven year civil war that ended in 2002 left over 40% of the population below the poverty line. Estimates put the number of street children in Luanda at around 5,000. The chances of any their dreams coming true often lies in the hands of the Salesian and Verbist priests and the centers they run. 

The war orphaned countless children. However not only war and aids-orphans live on the streets: the number also includes children who flee their homes because of alcoholism, domestic violence or extreme poverty leading to a lack of even the most basic means of survival. An additional problem children face is being charged with witchcraft. Seemingly absurd, these cases are both common and on the rise. When a tragedy – such as death, an illness or unemployment – befalls a family, the search for a guilty party with “evil forces” begins. Often the weakest in the family – old or young – is found guilty. At best they end up on the street; at worst, they are either maimed or murdered. 


AIDS too is spreading, especially amongst children exploited for prostitution. Drugs are a universal problem, ranging from glue and petrol sniffing to alcohol abuse. During the day, young children and teenagers work as baggage porters, cleaners, and market square trade helpers; they wash cars, clean shoes, commit acts of larceny, or beg on the streets.

According to UNICEF about 30% of Angola’s children between the age of 5 and 14 are forced to work. 

“I worked, loaded cars; when I finished loading, the evening came, I sat on the streets and begged”, recounts one of the older boys. Now he wants to save those who have to live on the street, as he once did.

"Open your arms so that no one takes a step back" is the motto of this new center. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 12/11/2012)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Angola's New $5B Wealth Fund


Luanda, Angola (CNN) -- Angola, Africa's second-largest oil producer, has launched a $5 billion sovereign wealth fund in an attempt to diversify its economy -- a move more associated with wealthy Gulf States like Qatar and the UAE.

The state-owned investment fund, known as the Fundo Soberano de Angola, will invest domestically and internationally, focusing on infrastructure development and the hospitality industry. These are two areas the Government of Angola believes is "likely to exhibit strong growth".

In an exclusive interview with CNN, Jose Filomeno de Sousa dos Santos, the son of Angola's longtime president who is on the board of the fund, said "now is a very good time."
He added: "The country has had around five years of steady growth, good growth, mostly based on oil production increases, and it plans to diversify the economy. The best way to do that is to do that is to intervene directly in the economy through investments."

More than 90% of Angola's revenue comes from oil production -- reaching around 1.9 million barrels a day -- and it is second only to Nigeria in its exports. But despite its oil wealth, the country remains largely impoverished.

Dos Santos says the aim of the fund is to invest profits accrued from oil to promote social development in the country.
"It is very easy to have oil money and spend it but it is very difficult to have a positive impact to improve people's lives on a daily basis," he said, "and that is an area we intend to invest on a lot with the sovereign wealth fund."

The formation of a formalized fund was first announced by Angola's President Jose Eduardo dos Santos. But the global financial crisis caused the oil price to plunge, hammering Angola's economy.
The government had to offset the crisis by securing a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in the form of a Stand By Arrangement of around $1.4 billion.

With new deep water oil finds announced by the government, Angola hopes to outstrip Nigeria to become Africa's largest oil producer. But the revenue from Angola's black gold won't last forever. The government hopes the sovereign wealth fund will help diversify Angola's profits to secure its future.