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Republic of Congo to vaccinate more than one million people against yellow fever
September 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

FILE - A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination

FILE – A World Health Organization (WHO) worker administers a vaccination

The Republic of Congo, in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and partners have started a vaccination campaign to control the spread of yellow fever in the port city of Pointe Noire and surrounding areas. More than 1 million people from nine months of age are expected to be vaccinated in this six-day campaign.

The vaccination campaign uses doses from the global emergency Yellow Fever vaccine stockpile managed by the International Coordination Group on Vaccine Provision (ICG) and funded by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The ICG coordinates the timely and equitable provision of vaccines during outbreaks and maintains an emergency stockpile of six million doses of yellow fever vaccine, which is continually replenished. Gavi will also cover operational costs for this campaign.

The immunization drive is a response to a laboratory-confirmed yellow fever case, which tested positive on 21 August 2018, after visiting a rural area.

Since then, no other case has been confirmed in the country, but more than 200 suspected cases have been reported since the beginning of the year, with most of these notified by the health authority in Pointe Noire. It’s possible that there are also undetected cases as a large proportion of the Pointe Noire population seeks care in the private
system and the national surveillance system may not be receiving notification.

Yellow fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, which can be deadly, but is prevented by an extremely effective vaccine. Urban outbreaks are of particular concern and Pointe Noire is the country’s economic capital, with a population of more than 1 million. After declining for many years, yellow fever
outbreaks are on the rise globally. The ease and speed of population movements, rapid urbanization and a resurgence of mosquitoes due to global warming have significantly increased the risk of urban outbreaks with international spread.

“Yellow fever has re-emerged as a public health threat in recent years in the African region,” said Dr Ibrahima Socé Fall, WHO’s Emergencies Director for Africa. “However, the vaccine is safe and provides life-long immunity. This reactive vaccination campaign is focusing on people who are most at risk and will set up a firewall which will
prevent the virus from spreading further.”

The neighbouring Democratic Republic of the Congo has shown solidarity with the Republic of Congo by lending more than 700 000 syringes for the vaccination campaign, while Pointe Noire health authorities wait for syringes to arrive from the international stockpile next month.

The response to this outbreak is part of a comprehensive strategy to eliminate yellow fever epidemics (EYE) globally by 2026. WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, and more than fifty partners are supporting the Government of Congo and 39 other high-risk countries to assess epidemic risk, roll out vaccination campaigns, engage with communities and deliver other response activities, including surveillance and laboratory diagnosis.

Nationwide preventive actions are also needed to ensure the protection of the entire population at risk. Rapid outbreak detection and response and long-term prevention are integral to a sustained control of yellow fever.

As part of the EYE Strategy, more than four million additional people are expected to be vaccinated in preventive mass campaigns in the Republic of Congo over the few next years.

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South Sudanese president orders to release PoWs, political detainees
September 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Deng Machol

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

South Sudan President Salva Kiir

Juba – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Thursday ordered to release all the prisoners of war, and political detainees in line with the revitalized peace agreement signed last month.

President Kiir ordered Chief of Defense Forces, Gen. Gabriel Jok Riak to release all prisoners of War and detainees immediately as part of the implementation of the peace agreement, under the supervision of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

In a republican order read on the state-run TV, SSBC last evening, Kiir instructed the Chief of Defense Forces and the commanders of all the regular forces to register and hand over the PoWs and detainees to any third party (the ICRC).

“The President of the republic and commander-in-chief of the SPLA has issued a Republican Order No. 17 for the implementation of the permanent ceasefire and transitional security arrangements as per the provisions of R-ARCISS,” said part of the decree.

The presidential decision comes in line with Chapter II (Permanent Ceasefire and Transitional Security Arrangements) article 6 of section one dedicated to the permanent ceasefire.

 The President further instructed the Chief of Defense Forces to direct all the SPLA forces to refrain from revenge attack or retaliation as well as stop training of any recruits immediately.

Kiir also directed the Chief of Defense Forces to ensure the orders are implemented with immediate effect. He also directed the army forces to cease the training of any recruits immediately.

The release of PoWs and detainees is one most awaited steps by the opposition groups and analyst saying it is a concrete measure that would help to reassure the full commitment to the signed revitalized peace deal, aims to end nearly five years conflict that has killed tenths thousands of the people and displaced 2.5 million people from their homes.

Of recently, the first Vice President Designate, Dr. Machar appealed to President Kiir to release all political detainees and lift the state of emergency if he is to come to Juba to attend peace celebrations. He also calls on Kiir to allow freedom of expression of the citizens and guarantee their safety.

Among the detainees, James Gadet Dak, former spokesperson of Dr. Riek Machar,  SPLM-IO senior official, Aggrey Idr Ezbon, a well-known activist, Dong Samuel Luak and Opposition appointed Kapoeta governor, Marko Lokidor and plus the young entrepreneur Mr. Kerbino Wol.

In the related development, President Kiir, earlier on Thursday in SPLA headquarters, before republic ordered, directed the South Sudanese army and other regular forces to abide by the revitalized peace agreement, observe the rule of law and to not commit any attacks on civilians in the country. He said military courts would be established to punish the perpetrators of any aggression on civilians during the pre-transitional period.

President Kiir further concluded that he would issue a presidential decree changing the name of the SPLA to South Sudan People Defence Force (SSPDF) soon.

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Kenya in shock over spate of female murders
September 28, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

In the dock: Migori Governor Okoth Obado at Milimani Law Courts, Nairobi. Pic credit Standard newspaper

The gruesome murder of two young women in less than one month has stunned a majority of Kenyans as personal security becomes a matter of concern.

Sharon Beryl Otieno’s body was found dumped in a thicket bush in Homabay County, western part of the country, while Monica Nyawira Kimani was killed and her body discarded in bathtub in her apartment, Nairobi.

Sharon Otieno, Rongo University student is alleged to have been abducted alongside Nation Media Group journalist Barrack Oduor by Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s Personal Assistant Michael Oyamo on September 3, 2018 and her lifeless body was discovered the following day at Kodera Forest. However, the journalist is said to have cheated death by jumping off the speeding car that they were bundled into and escaped the ordeal.

Sharon, who was seven months pregnant, was in love triangle with Governor Okoth Obado. According to Barack Oduor, the deceased wanted the story regarding her relationship with the Governor published in the media say he had deserted her. The scribe further divulged that Ms. Otieno had shown him whatsapp conversation between her and the County boss with the latter appealing to her to abort saying he cannot afford to withstand humiliation if the issue becomes public since he is a public figure. She also expressed her disappointment adding that Obado had given her Ksh.100, 000 ($1,000) three days before her death, which was insignificant compared to what he used to provide.

Melida Auma, the slain student’s mother also confirmed her daughter had a romantic relationship with the governor. He argued the relationship was marred with unfulfilled promises. She said Sharon was promised county business tenders although it did not happen.

“Okoth Obado (the governor) knew how the girl was going for medical checkup, “she explained.

The Governor first dismissed the claims of love affair with the student but later admitted through his lawyer after the DNA test revealed that he was the father of Sharon’s unborn baby but denied killing her.

“There are 99.99+ more chances that Okoth Obado is the biological father of the doner of the DNA generated from the foetus, that is Sharon Otieno’s child,” reads the report from the government analyst.

Migori Governor Okoth Obado's aide Caspal Obiero (in handcuffs) and Obado's bodyguard Elvis Omondi (behind) are led to Kisii law court on September 19, 2018. [Sammy Omingo/Standard]

Migori Governor Okoth Obado’s aide Caspal Obiero (in handcuffs) and Obado’s bodyguard Elvis Omondi (behind) are led to Kisii law court on September 19, 2018. [Sammy Omingo/Standard]

A postmortem report indicated that Sharon was raped and stabbed eight times. Governor Obado, his personal aide Michael Oyamo;and two others were arrested, arraigned and charged with murder which they all denied. They are being held in police custody waiting to know their fate in regard to their bail applications which will be heard before Judge Jessie Lesiit.

Sharon parents have vowed not to bury her until investigations surrounding her brutal murder are completed and her killers brought to book.

“We are not carrying out any burial preparations, we cannot talk much unless our lawyer reveals more information,” Her mother, Auma reiterated.

Sharon, 26, and a mother of three, had been married but her marriage broke last year and she went back to her parent.

The family of Monica Nyawira Kimani is also crying for justice after their daughter was murdered in her apartment by unknown people. Joseph Kuria Irungu alias Jowie, Monica’s friend has been arrested as the main suspect and he is helping police with the investigations.

Monica, 29, a business woman in Southern Sudan returned to the country on fateful day and was scheduled to meet her family. He mother had tried to reach her and when she did not pick her calls, requested her brother, George Thiru to go and check on her.

George said they, him, a cousin, security guards knocked on her door several times but there was no response; and then they asked for permission to bring the door. Upon doing that they discovered her body in the bathtub with her hands and legs tied with a white cable and her phone by her side.

He reiterated that she had deep cut on her throat and a knife suspected to have been used by the murderer was put by her side.

Joseph Irungu, her longtime admirer, who was in her company, is being held in police custody.

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Six African finalists selected by Arsenal FC and WorldRemit for new “Future Stars” youth coaching programme
September 28, 2018 | 0 Comments
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S. Sudan President Kiir appoints UN blacklisted Army General as Deputy Defense Minister
September 26, 2018 | 0 Comments
By Deng Machol

General Malek Reuben

Juba – South Sudanese President Salva Kiir has appointed UN blacklisted SPLA General as new country’s deputy defense minister.

The SPLA General Malek Reuben was appointed as country deputy minister of defense in a presidential decree announced on the state-run SSBC last Monday.
General Malek, who is under UN sanction for allegedly reported planning an offensive which targeted civilians in the former Unity State in 2015, homeland of Dr. Riek Machar, leader of the SPLM – IO.
But the SPLA has repeatedly denied the accusations.
According to the report by the Panel of Experts on South Sudan in January 2016, General Malek was one of a group of senior security officials who planned the offensive against the SPLM-IO, beginning in January 2015, and subsequently oversaw its execution from late April 2015 onward.
General Malek was the SPLA Deputy Chief of Staff for Logistics at the time. The Panel of Experts reported evidence, including testimony from military sources, that ammunition was supplied to youth groups by SPLA headquarters specifically for the offensive.
The attacks reportedly resulted in systematic destruction of villages and infrastructure, the forced displacement of the local population, the indiscriminate killing and torturing of civilians.
It also led to the widespread use of sexual violence, including against the elderly and children, the abduction and recruitment of children as soldiers, and large population displacement.
Earlier, the campaign group of Human Rights Watch called similar promotions “a slap in the face of justice”.
It said the move showed the impunity enjoyed by commanders accused of human rights abuses.
However, the observers criticized president Kiir’s decision, says such moved will create vacuum in justice and it will give room to the army general (s) to do more harm in the country.
General Malek, appointment comes at the time, president Kiir and SPLM – IO leader Dr. Machar signed the revitalized peace agreement, in an attempt to end the nearly fifth years conflict, that has killed ten thousands of people, and displaced 2.5 millions people from their homes.
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Summit of African education and ICT ministers to be hosted in Kigali this week
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

African Ministers of Education and Information Technology will be in Kigali, Rwanda this week for the annual Ministerial Round Table (MRT) meeting at eLearning Africa, the continent’s largest conference on technology assisted learning and training.

The theme of the MRT will be ‘Towards a Knowledge-based Economy’ and the ministers are expected to discuss the possible effects of a global ‘fourth industrial revolution’ on Africa. With machines increasingly likely to replace human workers in a number of key industries, the implications for African governments, businesses and citizens are
potentially enormous.

However, a ‘fourth industrial revolution’ may offer African economies an opportunity to ‘leapfrog’ their competitors and the ministers will consider what African Governments and businesses need to do to make the most of a new era of rapid technological change.

Rebecca Stromeyer, the founder and organiser of eLearning Africa said today,

“Many African economies are actually in quite a strong position. Unlike the so-called ‘advanced economies,’ they don’t have to waste huge resources trying to restructure tired, old industries. Many of them can start from scratch and they have a great deal to offer potential investors. They are resource rich and they have the world’s most youthful population, which is bound to attract investors and entrepreneurs.

“The key thing now is to focus on giving young people the modern skills they need and creating a climate which encourages innovation and creativity. If African Governments do that, Africa can lead the world.”

At the eLearning Africa Ministerial Round Table, ministers will focus on discussing practical measures, which can be implemented quickly to give Africans a chance to take advantage of what is likely to be a new era of opportunity.

Ministers, deputy ministers and senior officials from the following countries have confirmed their attendance at the MRT, Angola – Secretary of State for Higher Education and Secretary of State for Professional Technical Education, Benin – Minister of Secondary Education and Professional Technical Education, Congo – Minister of Professional Technical Education and Minister for Higher Education, Djibouti – Minister of National Education and Professional Education, Egypt – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Equatorial Guinea – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and Minister of Transport, Post & Telecommunications, Gambia – Minister for Basic & Secondary Education
and Deputy Permanent Secretary of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ghana – Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports, Lesotho – Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Liberia – Deputy
Minister for Administration, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Mali – Minister of Youth, Senegal – Cabinet Director, Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation and Uganda – Minister of ICT.

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The Status Quo is Unacceptable: It’s time to normalize the narratives on African Migration, Experts Urge
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
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African Development Bank Boosts Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy with close to $2 Million
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), of which the Government of Japan is a major donor, along with the Austrian Government and the African Development Bank, will contribute $923,570 and $988,202 to finance the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, September 25, 2018/ — The African Development Bank’s (www.AfDB.orgFund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA) (http://bit.ly/2xAJfTU), has provided funds totaling nearly US $2 million to its Jobs for Youth in Africa initiative.

FAPA, of which the Government of Japan is a major donor, along with the Austrian Government and the African Development Bank, will contribute $923,570 and $988,202 to finance the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs, respectively. Both programs form key components of the Bank’s Jobs for Youth in Africa Strategy, which invests in high-growth sectors with potential to promote youth and women’s empowerment, as well as create 25 million jobs over the next decade.

“Africa hosts the world’s youngest population, which will double to almost one billion by 2050. The continent needs to create jobs much faster, particularly for women and youth,” said Vanessa Moungar, Director of Women, Gender and Civil Society Department at the Bank.

“FAPA’s generous support will go a long way to accelerating the Jobs for Youth Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab and Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace programs that contribute to meeting these needs,” Moungar further remarked on Thursday, 13 September 2018, during the funding announcement event, which was themed “Entrepreneurs 2.0 – When fashion meets technology”.

Attended by Bank staff, dignitaries, public and private sector stakeholders, the event was also graced by fashion designer PatheO’, known for making the distinctive, colorful shirts worn by the late Nelson Mandela and Salimou Bamba, Managing Director of Abidjan-based SME development firm, AGENCE CI PME.

The Fashionomics Africa Digital Marketplace and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Lab (eLab) programs align with FAPA’s vison to create an investment-friendly climate for micro, small and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) on the continent. They will also provide platforms for strengthening and promoting entrepreneurship that target women and youth-led businesses.

Launched in 2015, the Bank’s Fashionomics Africa initiative supports its High 5 (http://bit.ly/2IeAT8x) priorities, in particular, the Jobs for Youth in Africa (http://bit.ly/2OPs9YV) and Industrialization (http://bit.ly/2DvG0ST) agenda. FAPA’s latest support for this initiative will enable the development of the digital platform and application designed to increase and facilitate access to markets and financeprovide access to relevant information, mentorship and networking opportunities as well as develop the skills, competencies and qualifications of African designers and fashion entrepreneurs

The eLab program will provide innovative young entrepreneurs with financing, technical assistance and broader ecosystem support. With eLab, “We aim to support the next generation of business owners across the continent,” said Babatunde Olumide Omilola, Manager for Public Health, Security and Nutrition at the Bank. “Target beneficiaries are businesses started by young people and intermediaries that support business development, focusing on the three sectors identified as priorities by the Jobs for Youth in Africa strategy, namely agriculture, Information and Communication Technology and industry.”

Addressing Bank staff and guests, Mr. Takuji Yano, the Bank’s Executive Director for Japan, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Austria and Brazil said: “Both projects focus on promoting entrepreneurship and ICT tools as drivers for development. By leveraging technology, African countries can enhance understanding of markets, expand education and employment, and deliver monetary benefits for the informal sector and government alike. We are happy to see this diverse, innovative and creative portfolio of FAPA’s proposals.”

About FAPA:

The Fund for African Private Sector Assistance (FAPA), is a multi-donor trust fund that provides grants for technical assistance activities to public and private sector entities domiciled in Africa. FAPA resources are utilized to promote innovative programs that specifically support the development of small and medium-enterprises in Africa. FAPA is one of the components of the Enhanced Private Sector Assistance initiative hosted at the African Development Bank.

For more details: https://www.afdb.org/en/topics-and-sectors/initiatives-partnerships/fund-for-african-private-sector-assistance/

About AfDB:

The African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank, the African Development Fund and the Nigeria Trust Fund. On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the African Development Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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South Sudanese surgeon wins UNHCR Nansen Refugee Award
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Lourenço’s First Year: Angola’s Transitional Politics
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments

João Lourenço’s first year in office has been marked by notable reforms and the consolidation of power. If ordinary Angolans are to benefit this momentum must continue, along with institutional checks that can curb the excesses of the past.

By Alex Vines*

João Lourenço

João Lourenço

João Lourenço’s first year as Angola’s head of state has seen quicker change than many expected. The former defense minister, who became Angola’s president in September 2017, had two policy priorities for his first year: to stabilise the economy and to take full control of his party, the Movimento Popular de Libertação de Angola (MPLA). He has made progress on both fronts.

The MPLA Congress and Consolidation of Power

Over the course of Lourenço’s first year as president, two poles of power emerged: the presidency of the state, headed by João Lourenço—popularly known in Angola as “JLo”—and the ex-head of state and MPLA president, José Eduardo dos Santos. Angola has not experienced anything like this since 1979, as the separation between party and state has long been blurred. The relationship between both men also deteriorated from late 2017 over JLo’s increasingly assertive reforms that impacted dos Santos, his family, and his allies. For a while, they relied on intermediaries to communicate with each other.

José Eduardo dos Santos

José Eduardo dos Santos. (Photo: Ricardo Stuckert/PR)

Unsurprisingly, after 38 years of leading Angola, dos Santos was not planning to relinquish all his power rapidly. There was a tug of war over the date for the extraordinary MPLA congress—with dos Santos in March (encouraged by his family and allies) saying that the congress should be in December or April 2019. This initiative failed, and JLo continued to build up his support base—such as appointing a dos Santos “dissident,” General Fernando Garcia Miala, as head of the Serviço de Inteligência e Segurança de Estado (SINSE, the state intelligence and security service). Miala’s appointment locked in intelligence community support and weakened dos Santos further.

JLo was elected president of the MPLA at the party’s sixth extraordinary congress on September 8, 2018, in Luanda. He stood unopposed and secured 98.6 percent of the votes and replaced dos Santos, ending his 39-year tenure as party president. Having secured his grip on the party presidency, JLo immediately overhauled its Bureau Político (BP): close to half its members were replaced by younger people, many of them not linked to dos Santos. Those released from the BP read like a Who’s Who of the dos Santos era, including Francisco Higino Lopes Carneiro, a one-time public works minister; Manuel Vicente, a former chief executive of Sonangol and Angola’s previous vice-president; Juilão Mateus Paulo “Dino Matrosse,” a veteran of the liberation struggle and long-time MPLA secretary-general; and Kundi Paihama, a former defense minister and majority shareholder in Banco Angola de Negócios e Comércio. Some allies of dos Santos were also retained, such as lawyer Carlos Feijó and Rui Luís Falcão Pinto de Andrade, a one-time MPLA spokesman.

In the 12 months since JLo became head of state, several key officials, including family of dos Santos—such as his son José Filomeno (“Zenu”) as head of the sovereign wealth fund, and the head of the state oil company Sonangol, his elder daughter, Isabel—have been charged or investigated in connection with corruption and money-laundering allegations. This played well among Angola’s middle class and weakened resistance to JLo’s tightening grip of the MPLA. A year on, JLo has firmly consolidated his hold on authority and ended the dual centers of power within the party. JLo now controls the party, the executive, and the armed forces and intelligence. He is also responsible for appointing senior members of the judiciary and the leadership of the parastatals. This concentration of power in the presidency could pose a longer-term risk for Angola, particularly if JLo’s reforms fail to deliver. Angola currently lacks credible institutions to place checks and balances on its executive, and the MPLA is more tightly controlled by the President following the party congress.

The Stena Sunrise Crude Oil Tanker

Sonangol’s Stena Sunrise crude oil tanker. (Photo: Corey Seeman)

Deepening Reform

Looking ahead, a key question is: Will JLo become more equitable in his reform efforts? The last year saw disproportionate action against family and allies of dos Santos. This was unavoidable, as during the final years of the dos Santos administration, allies, confidantes, and the dos Santos family prospered substantially. Any serious reform needed to confront this reality.

Reform should, however, not be just about power consolidation for JLo. Angola is ranked 167th out of 180 countries in the 2017 Corruption Perceptions Index by Transparency International and scores poorly in the World Bank’s Doing Business study, ranking 182 out of 190 in 2017. Reform was unavoidable, and Angolan banking needs it as a recent Deloitte assessment concluded.

Some $30 billion of Angolan money is held outside the country, around half in personal accounts.

Legislation approved in May 2018 mandated the return of illicitly exported capital over $100,000. According to the Banco Nacional de Angola (BNA), some $30 billion of Angolan money is held outside the country, around half in personal accounts. Will this be enforced under the law and how much money will be returned? Opposition parties and anti-corruption activists welcomed the initiative but claim people close to JLo have unaccounted-for fortunes too. It is promising that some of these individuals were not reappointed to the MPLA’s BP in September—hopefully signaling that a new phase of reform is starting.

Debt Burden

Currently, the economy has fragile growth, high debt, and high inflation. The IMF expects 2.25 percent growth in 2018 (compared with 1 percent in 2017), with the economy experiencing a mild recovery, helped by reforms and a buoyant global debt market. At the same time, inflation is expected to reach 24.75 percent year-on-year for 2018 and formal unemployment is at least 25 percent.

2018 is also a year of debt maturities for Angola. Angola projects its total debt, excluding that of the state oil company Sonangol, to reach $77.3 billion or 71 percent of GDP by end of 2018. The debt service-to-revenue ratio reached 89 percent in 2017. To help, China has opened a new $11 billion credit facility for Angola in 2018 (Angola’s current debt to China is $23 billion, and debt owed to Chinese institutions accounts for 56 percent of Angola’s external debt). In addition to China, Angola has oil-backed loan commitments with Brazil and Israel and currently lacks wiggle room—forcing it to turn to commercial borrowing and reengaging with the IMF.

In May, Angola successfully sold a $1.7 billion, ten-year bond and a 30-year bond worth $1.25 billion. This Eurobond was three times oversubscribed, signaling investor confidence in Angola. Angola’s reengagement with the IMF over a financial service support program (an extended fund facility) has helped investor confidence. The IMF engagement is a positive development, helping Angola’s international reputation and it will encourage a control in expenditures. Long-term debt rescheduling but may also restrict fiscal and monetary policy—and have some social impact in the short term (unemployment and lower purchasing power).

External Debt Service Peaking in 2018

The Angolan currency, the Kwanza, has also fallen over 40 percent since a dollar peg was abandoned in January for a floating foreign exchange regime. This has eased pressure on international reserves, which fell from $28 billion in 2014 to a decade-low $12.8 billion in February 2018. A lack of foreign currency and concerns of corruption had forced foreign companies to pull back operations. This has made nurturing the oil and gas industry a priority until the government can figure out how to sustainably diversify its economy away from over-reliance on hydrocarbons.

Protecting the “Golden Goose”—Oil

Photo: jbdodane

(Photo: jbdodane)

JLo has also convinced international oil companies (IOCs) to recommit to Angola and described the oil industry as Angola’s “Golden Goose.” Oil production is set to decline by 36 percent by 2023 according to the Ministry of Finance because Angola’s off-shore oil fields peak quickly and decline sharply. Oil currently represents 95 percent of foreign exchange earnings and more than 40 percent of gross domestic product. In mid-2017, there were only 8 active rigs (compared with 25 in 2014), and seismic activity fell by 80 percent. Over the prior 12 months, crude oil production had declined to an average of 1.632 million barrels per day. The outlook was bleak, and several IOCs were considering an exit.

The JLo administration over the last year has been working with IOCs to avoid this projected steep decline, removing obstacles to the development of new fields, particularly in blocks 14, 15, 16, 17, 31, and 32, and offering new licensing opportunities. The policy ambition is to steady production around 1.7 million barrels per day and attract renewed exploration and greenfield and marginal field development.

In October 2017, soon after taking office, JLo met with senior officials from Chevron, Total, BP, Eni, Exxon, and Statoil (now Equinor) to discuss the industry’s future. An immediate result was the creation by the presidency of a working group, and six weeks later, the firing of Isabel dos Santos as head of Sonangol and most of her board. Reforms have followed, such as drafting legislation for the rights of companies to explore and produce natural gas in Angola and ensuring that the Ministry of Finance is responsible for the accounts of the oil and gas industry. The end of the fuel import monopoly and incentives for investment in marginal oil fields have also been introduced.

Estimated Change in Sustainable OPEC Crude Oil Production Capacity 2016-2022

In the longer term, by the end of 2020, a new agency—the Agência Nacional de Petróleos e Gás (ANGP)—has been proposed to take over the role of concessionaire from Sonangol. Sonangol will focus just on hydrocarbon exploration, production, refining, and distribution. It will sell off non-core subsidiaries and its equity in several oil blocks. A few key IOCs have recommitted to Angola in response.

The JLo administration has also started mining sector reforms. In September, mining major Anglo American confirmed it was seeking a prospecting license. Angola also plans to privatize around 74 state companies over the next few years, and some key infrastructure projects have been reviewed. A recent Chatham House study of Angola’s non-oil infrastructure showed significant graft and poor oversight in projects up to 2016.

Security Sector Reform

On paper, at up to 100,000 personnel, Angola’s armed forces (the Forças Armadas Angolanas, FAA) are one of the largest in Africa. Since the civil war ended in 2002, the military has played a key role in facilitating post-conflict elite reconciliation and job creation. Maintaining such a large military is unsustainable in the long term, and in the last budget, 21 percent was allocated for defense, 11.3 percent for education, and 7.4 percent for health.

Since the civil war ended in 2002, the military has played a key role in facilitating post-conflict elite reconciliation and job creation.

Reform of the armed forces was long overdue and in April 2018, the FAA chief of staff, General Geraldo Sachipengo Nunda was fired because of corruption allegations against him, along with the external intelligence chief, André de Oliveira Sango, a long-time dos Santos loyalist. Nunda (an ex-UNITA guerrilla fighter) had been a technocratic appointment but did not have the necessary political support to continue. He was replaced by General António Egídio de Sousa Santos “Disciplina” (previously the FAA’s head of education), an appointment that strengthens JLo’s grip of the military in preparation for structural reform.

Since January 2018, JLo made new appointments of 62 generals and admirals to the defense and security services and retired 58 others. An armed forces reform legislation package of three laws was also approved by the National Assembly in July 2018, which paves the way for significant downsizing. The plan is to halve the size of the armed forces and to professionalize and depoliticize many posts.

MPLA Renewal

João Lourenço MPLA

João Lourenço at an MPLA rally in May 2017. (Photo: Eu sou João Lourenço)

With a firm grip on the party and a stabilizing economy, JLo’s priority will be to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, and improve government delivery. The reforms are all aimed at ensuring continued MPLA domination by rebuilding support for the party in anticipation of Angola’s first ever municipal elections in 2020, where the party fears it could lose control of some parts of the country. It also represents longer-term preparations for an increased MPLA majority (the party secured just over 61 percent of the vote in legislative elections in August 2017) at the next national elections in 2022 and a João Lourenço second term.

A year on from taking over the Angolan presidency, the pressure to demonstrate measurable progress is increasing. Helped by improved oil prices and a firm grip on power, JLo now has a couple of years to prove that he really is a modernizing reformer that can deliver for all Angolans, rather than just a new face protecting MPLA elite interests.

*Source Africa Center.Dr. Alex Vines is Research Director, Area Studies and International Law; Head, Africa Programme, Chatham House

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Member States urged to explore non-traditional sources of financing in Central Africa
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
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Roadmap for Angola: 2019 and Beyond
September 25, 2018 | 0 Comments
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