Artigos

The question of capital in Angola

1- Introduction: IMF, sound economic policies and capital accumulation

Contrary to what some economic studies and forecasts currently carried out by some more or less unknown consultants, the current Angolan economic policy has solid foundations. This is demonstrated by the recent assessment by the International Monetary Fund regarding the agreement between the fund and Angola. The IMF administration is clear in declaring[1]: “The authorities [from Angola government] have supported the [economic] recovery through sound policies that aim to further stabilize the economy, create opportunities for inclusive growth and protect the most vulnerable in Angolan society.”

It would be difficult to have a better endorsement of government economic policy.

However, macroeconomic stabilization and the resumption of economic growth are different realities. There is need of a certain engine to ensure economic growth. It is known that the essential growth model was presented by Robert Solow (Nobel Prize for Economics in 1987), that explains that growth depends essentially on the accumulation of capital, with the increase in GDP resulting from the increase in the capital stock[2].

It is known that the latest Angolan GDP figures for the first quarter of 2021 are negative by 3.4%. So the question that now arises is: how to transform sound economic policies into capital accumulation and promote GDP growth?

2-Capital in the Angolan economy

The essential growth model of the Angolan economy, at least from 2021 onwards, was not a model based primarily on investment, but on consumption derived from imports and on the direct benefit of capital gains from the high price of oil. This meant that the investment that existed was induced by oil and not extended to the economy as a whole[3]. It should also be noted that a good part of the savings gains at that time was not transformed into domestic investment, having been transferred abroad from Angola. In a colloquial way, there was a sharp flight of capital from Angola to overseas countries, namely Portugal or off-shore tax havens[4].

It is public that this model went bankrupt as of 2014, and led to sharp years of recession after 2015. At the same time, it was found that the contribution of gross fixed capital formation (GFCF) to GDP began to decrease from that point on. year (2015). If we look at each year the FCF/GDP was respectively 28.21 %, 26.21 %, 23.24 %, 17.19%. The 2018 number (17.9%) is frightening and makes the discussion about the need to capitalize the Angolan economy more relevant.

Figure 1: Gross Fixed Capital Formation in relation to GDP

“The country has a capital deficit”[5] and this problem has to be resolved so that growth can occur. This aspect has to be one of the guides for future economic policy. A goal must be set to raise the GFCF/GDP rate to higher levels, possibly to the 25/26% that happened in 2007 or 2012, which ensure GDP growth levels (albeit based on oil) of 14% and 8%.  Now a new capitalization not only based on oil has to be carried out.

It’s easy to diagnose. Angola lacks capital and needs strong investment. The answers will be the most costly.

3- Increase capital in Angola

What to do to accumulate and increase capital in Angola?

Our answer is divided into two perspectives, the short-term and the medium-term. Let’s focus on the short term, then make a brief reference to the medium term, although it is clear that there is a continuum, as what is done now has repercussions over time.

The executive has already taken some measures, which we have reported in previous reports[6], such as the Private Investment Law (LIP)-Law no. 10/18, of June 26, which no longer requires partnerships with Angolan citizens or companies from Angolan capital and in its article 14, it guarantees that the State respects and protects the property right of private investors; Article 15 establishes that the Angolan State guarantees all private investors access to the Angolan courts for the defense of their interests, being guaranteed due legal process, protection and security. The range of possibilities for transferring dividends were also expanded. Moreover, in administrative terms, it should be noted that in 2018, all requests for the transfer of dividends above five million dollars (4.3 million euros) were granted to foreign companies operating in the country. And, most importantly, since 2020, the capital import from foreign investors who want to invest in the country in companies or projects in the private sector, as well as the export of income associated with these investments, have been exempted from licensing by the Angolan central bank.

However, this is still not enough, and foreign private investment will take a long time, either because a very turbulent electoral period is starting, or because there is a worldwide distraction with Covid-19. In addition, the executive has not yet communicated with all the worldwide amplification, the opening of Angola for business. Even so, it is essential that the executive maintain the political orientation of openness to foreign direct investment.

More needs to be done in the short term to increase investment in Angola and subsequent economic growth. Below is a list of suggestions.

• The initial suggestion is obvious and is based on strengthening public investment. It is essential that the government becomes an inductor of investment and that the capital gains arising from the rise in oil prices and possible apprehensions in the fight against corruption are applied in reproductive investments with short-term results.

The next two suggestions might be more innovative.

 Let us address the first of the most unorthodox suggestions. As mentioned, a good part of the savings obtained by Angolans in Angola was remitted abroad, decapitalizing the country. Now we have to reverse this.

In this sense, the government should, in the first place, sell the dormant shares and assets or in which there is no very relevant strategic interest, which it has abroad. With the result of this sale, it would constitute an investment fund to be invested within Angola. Thus, the first heterodox proposal to increase the capital available in Angola is to sell what there is abroad that belongs to the State (directly or indirectly) and place it in the Angolan economy. Certainly, Sonangol’s position in Millennium BCP should be sold and transformed into investment capital in Angola, and possibly an indirect stake in Galp, if it is not possible to reach a strategic agreement with the Amorim family to better monetize the Angolan position.

• The second suggestion refers to fighting corruption. It is necessary to get out of a certain delay that entered into and boost the capital recovery.

Thus, the government should directly approach those it calls “hornets” and propose a negotiated solution to their situation. Either they deliver the assets that are abroad for investment in Angola, or they will face long prison terms. In relation to these assets, the method outlined above would be followed: Provided market prices were acceptable, everything would be sold and the capital returned to Angola for investment according to a formula agreed between both parties.

This “negotiation” would not be carried out by common means, but by a special force to be set up in Angola and would have short deadlines, not judicial deadlines.

There will have to be a radicalization in both directions in the fight against corruption. More effective punishment or forgiveness with repatriation. Unlike what happened in the previous repatriation law, there would be no waiting, but there would be a proactive attitude on the part of the executive.

By way of an illustration, the participation of Isabel dos Santos in NOS, that of General Kopelipa in the BIG bank and in several hotel developments, the apartments that the former figures have in Estoril, etc., could be sold. The result of these sales would return to Angola where it would be invested in terms to be agreed between the State and the former owners.

These listed measures could give some boost to the Angolan economy and thus promote economic growth immediately.

At the medium-term level, the essential thing is that there is no rampant corruption,  good communication infrastructures are created, an investor-friendly legal apparatus and fast, non-corrupt courts, an educated workforce (this does not mean having degree courses but the necessary skills) and reasonable taxes. In short, an inviting political and social climate for investment.


[1] IMF, Fifth review under the extended arrangement under the extended fund facility and request for modifications of performance criteria— press release; staff report, and statement by the executive director for Angola, June 2021, available in  https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2021/06/30/Angola-Fifth-Review-Under-the-Extended-Arrangement-Under-the-Extended-Fund-Facility-and-461318

[2] Cfr. Recent reassessment and description in Philippe Aghion, Céline Antonin e Simon Bunel (2021), The Power of Creative Destruction

[3] Cfr. Rui Verde (2021), Angola at the Crossroads. Between Kleptocracy and Development

[4] Cfr. For example: Isabel Costa Bordalo, Angola com 60 mil milhões USD é terceiro em África na fuga de capitais,  https://www.expansao.co.ao/angola/interior/angola-com-60-mil-milhoes-usd-e-terceiro-em-africa-na-fuga-de-capitais-94979.html

[5] Jonuel Gonçalves (2021), Angola: Não é a Covid que está a provocar a crise económica, https://www.dw.com/pt-002/angola-n%C3%A3o-%C3%A9-a-covid-que-est%C3%A1-a-provocar-a-crise-econ%C3%B3mica/a-58859385

[6] CEDESA, (2020), A nova atractividade para o investimento internacional em Angola https://www.cedesa.pt/2020/03/09/a-nova-atractividade-para-o-investimento-internacional-em-angola/

Indications and Summer Forecasts for the Angolan Economy

Indications

The latest figures available from the National Institute of Statistics on the Angolan economy point to a decrease in GDP in the 1st quarter of 2021 in the order of -3.4%, an unemployment rate in the same quarter of 30.5%, and a annual inflation rate for the month of July 2021 of 25.72%[1]. None of these figures that reflect macroeconomic magnitudes are encouraging in the short term.

However, there are other economic and financial realities to consider in order to have a global view of the movement underway in the Angolan economy, and which allow for a more optimistic perspective.

To begin with, in terms of the budget balance and public debt, essential elements of the support program of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the expectation is that the 2021 budget balance will be positive, possibly above 2% of GDP (further on we will present our prediction). In relation to public debt, as we had predicted in previous reports, its sustainability is consolidated, as recognized by the IMF representative in Angola very recently (see our forecast below)[2].

In terms of exchange rate with reference to the month of July 2021, the Kwanza has already appreciated 1.8% against the dollar and 6.1% against the euro, since January 2021, breaking a strong period of strong devaluation started in 2018. Furthermore, 3.5 years after exchange rate flexibility, the gap between formal and informal market rates is below the 20% target announced by the central bank at the time of liberalization, between 7% and 8% for the dollar and euro respectively. Note that at the time prior to liberalization, the same gap was 159% and 167%.

Figure 1 – Kwanza Exchange Rate Variation against the Dollar and Euro (July 2021)

Currently, some sectors are already announcing an increase in the profitability of exports due to the favorable exchange rate policy. This is the case of cement, where Pedro Pinto CEO of Nova Cimangola assures that “To boost exports, the devaluation of the currency helped, because all the costs that the company has in national currency, in dollars, were lower and, in this way, the competitiveness of the company to place products on the international market. In other words, all those products that we continue to buy in Kzs and that have not suffered large price variations in dollars were lower and, therefore, allowed the company to have greater profitability with exports.[3]

Also a reference to PRODESI (Program to Support Production, Diversification of Exports and Substitution of Imports), which has generated more than USD 29 million since the beginning of the year. As the main exported products, emphasis is placed on cement, beer, glass packaging, bananas, juices and soft drinks and sugar[4].

These movements are reflected in the trade balance. Angola’s trade balance recorded, in the 1st half of 2021, a surplus of USD 8,381.9 million[5], an increase of 40.2 % compared to the results recorded in the 2nd half of 2020 (USD 5,978.8 million)[6]. Within this framework, there was an increase in exports of 25%, naturally still influenced by the increase in exports from the oil sector of 28.4%.

Figure 2 – Angola’s Trade Balance and Trade Relations with China

But there is also a significant increase in trade with one of Angola’s main trading partners, China. “Trade between Angola and China increased 23.9% in the first half of 2021, to US$10,550 million (€8,985 million), compared to the same period last year”[7]. According to Gong Tao, Chinese ambassador to Angola, despite the adverse effects caused by the covid-19 pandemic, Chinese companies remain interested in investing in Angola, highlighting the recent construction of factories, one dedicated to the production of tiles and another qualified for the production of energy and water meters.

2021 Summer Forecasts

In modeling the perspectives we present here, several factors are taken into account, among which we highlight the main ones. The first element is the calculation of the oil price (always a determining factor in the Angolan economy). We assume that the price of Brent will maintain a slight upward trend, standing at a level between USD 65 to USD 75 per barrel. A relative stabilization or possible appreciation of the Kwanza against the dollar and the euro is also part of our model, which makes it possible to reverse some of the falls in the past that were merely nominal due to the more flexible exchange rate. We anticipate that the post-Covid-19 world recovery will boost the Angolan economy’s exports, as is already happening with China. Finally, we anticipate that the environment for foreign investment will gradually improve as a result of legislative reforms and the commitment of political power. We have as a recent example the several advertisements coming from Turkey. At the end of July 2021, Angola and Turkey signed 10 cooperation agreements, in the fields of economy, trade, mineral resources and transport, having already announced an increase in the trade balance with Angola to a value of around USD 500 million[8].

From the point of view of obstacles, it is worth mentioning the immense lack of capital. This is the main element for any sustained recovery, and also the inexistence of economic diversification[9] and the persistence of administrative bureaucracy.

All things considered, our model predicts that by the year 2021 the Angolan economy will come out of recession, and GDP growth will reach between 1.4% and 1.75%.

Our model points to a budget surplus between 2.3% and 2.75%, depending on the evolution of the oil price until the end of the year. And considering the evolution of the Kwanza exchange rate, our forecast is that in 2022, the public debt/Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio will be below 100%, achieving greater consolidation.

Figure 3 – CEDESA Model – Forecasts for the Angolan Economy

Consequently, the initial period of strong adjustment and contraction of the Angolan economy is expected to come to an end this year, with no more shocks and global control of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The special case of Unemployment

We understand that unemployment is a special case that should be treated differently, both statistically and in terms of public policies. In terms of statistics, it should be better ascertained who is occupied with informal productive paid activities and who cannot effectively obtain any paid work they want. We should avoid statistical biases that disturb the proper understanding of reality.

On the other hand, it is clear that it will not be the market or the private economy that will solve the problem of lack of employment in the short term, especially for young people. To that extent, the authorities are urged to develop a Keynesian-type employment promotion program, if necessary using available capital from the fight against corruption, as we have advocated in other reports. The state has to spend money on job creation.


[1] Cfr. https://www.ine.gov.ao/

[2] Cfr. https://www.sapo.pt/noticias/atualidade/representante-do-fmi-em-angola-afirma-que_611bf099d1bccf29fd83b48c

[3] https://mercado.co.ao/grandes-entrevistas/a-desvalorizacao-da-moeda-permitiu-que-a-empresa-tivesse-maior-rentabilidade-com-as-exportacoes-XJ1038347

[4] https://www.angonoticias.com/Artigos/item/68811/prodesi-rende-mais-de-usd-29-milhoes-em-exportacoe

[5] https://www.bna.ao/Conteudos/Artigos/lista_artigos_medias.aspx?idc=15419&idsc=15428&idl=1

[6] https://www.angonoticias.com/Artigos/item/68824/balanca-comercial-regista-superavit-de-usd-83819-milhoes

[7] https://www.rtp.pt/noticias/economia/comercio-entre-china-e-angola-recupera-24-no-1o-semestre-apos-forte-quebra-em-2020_n1343994

[8] https://www.angop.ao/noticias/economia/angola-e-turquia-reforcam-balanca-comercial/

[9] Cfr, the most recent elements on the sectoral participation in the GDP that demonstrate the immense and reinforced weight of the oil sector. https://www.bna.ao/Conteudos/Artigos/lista_artigos_medias.aspx?idc=15907&idsc=15909&idl=1

An industrialization project for Angola

I-Introduction. The revival of interest in industrialization

The industrialization of Angola has become one of the objectives of the current government under the leadership of the President of the Republic João Lourenço. In fact, either at the International Summit on Sustainable Development “The Future of Africa” held in Abu Dhabi in 2019, or at the third edition of the Global Summit on Manufacturing and Industrialization, promoted by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in 2020, Lourenço always emphasized that industrialization was a pressing need with a view to creating wealth and well-being for citizens and employment as the main source for all opportunities.

In fact, since Angola does not have staff and skills with sufficient critical mass in terms of services, and having recently seen the strategic weaknesses of economies that are too much based on services, it is normal for any economic start-up in the country to be also based on industry.

The industrialization of Angola must be thought based on three assumptions.

The first is that it will be based on strong agriculture. It is not a question of replacing agriculture with industry, but simultaneously developing agriculture and livestock as the basis for a renewed industrial start-up.

The second assumption is that what is called industrialization today will be different from what was considered at the beginning of the 20th century when such a movement was linked to the so-called heavy industries: steel, cement, etc. Furthermore, industrialization is not just manufacturing, but a set of transformative processes.

Finally, the vectors of industrialization in Angola will have to be linked to specific factors that bring added value to the economy or where it has competitive advantages. Therefore, it is not a matter of making mere copies of industrial models, but of realizing where Angola has benefits in industrializing.

II- Industry in the Angolan economy

As Nuno Valério and Maria Paula Fontoura write “in 1975, [when] Angola became an independent state, (…) the economy was prosperous, whether due to the existence of considerable exports of agricultural products (coffee, cotton, sugar, sisal) and others from plantations; corn from traditional farms) and minerals (diamonds, iron and oil) and even services (particularly through transit to Shaba, formerly Catanga, via the Benguela railway), either due to the beginning of an industrialization process.[1]

The Angolan industrial start-up began in the 1960s, still under colonial rule. In fact, from that time, framed in the general liberalization and pro-European measures that Portugal took, in the creation of a Portuguese free trade zone and in the expansion of the internal market through the troops and families displaced with the overseas war “between 1960 and 1970, the gross value of manufacturing industry production grew at an average annual rate of 17.8% and GDP 10% in nominal terms.[2]

In fact, on the eve of independence (1973) the Angolan industry (excluding civil construction) represented 41% of GDP. The important industries were the food industry, with 36% of the gross value of production in the manufacturing sector; followed by the textile industry, with 32%, beverages, with 11%, chemistry, non-metallic mineral products and tobacco, with 5%, petroleum derivatives and metallic products, with 4%, pulp, paper and derivatives, with 3%.[3]

Fig. 1- The main industries in Angola in 1973 (% gross value of production in the manufacturing sector):

Food36%
Textile32%
Beverages11%
Chemistry, non-metallic mineral products and tobacco 5%
Petroleum products and metal products 4%
Pulp, paper and derivatives  3%
Oil30%
Coffee27%
Diamonds10%

Source: Nuno Valério and Maria Paula Fontoura, op.cit.

It should be noted, however, that by this time, the “evil” of the Angolan economy was already present, i.e., the excessive dependence on raw materials for export. In reality, the manufacturing industry only contributed to around 20% of Angolan exports, with the main products exported in 1973 being: oil (30%), coffee (27%), diamonds (10%).

This liberalizing start-up in the Angolan industry was subject to some criticism, and in the 1970s, the government of Lisbon began to impose a protectionist perspective on Angolan industrial development. This did not affect the healthy growth of the industry. In fact, as noted by Nuno Valério and Maria Paula Fontoura: “the manufacturing industry’s VBP grew at an average annual rate of 21% between 1970 and 1973.[4]

It is known that the situation of prosperity was interrupted by the civil war and it was only after 2002 that there was a strong revival of the economy. However, this restart was based on crude oil exploration and not on any sustained industrialization process. Even when it comes to oil, there was no concern about integrating it into an industrialization process and making Angola a country that bet on the transformation of its raw material instead of exporting it raw. This meant investing in refining, in petrochemicals, in the production of fertilizers, which did not happen[5].

Arriving in the second decade of the 21st century, the situation of the economy becomes worrying when oil exploration is no longer satisfactory due to the drop in its price. In this context, we start talking about the diversification of the economy and looking at the industry, but the scenario is not encouraging in terms of the strength of the industry within the scope of the Angolan Gross Domestic Product (GDP), so it is essential to mix and actively promote a project to launch industrial activity.

The most recent data referring to the weight of the manufacturing industry (except crude oil refining), dated from the second quarter of 2020, point to a 4.8% contribution to GDP. This contribution was 3.69% in 2002, and 4% in 2017 and 2018. On the same date, the year-on-year change in the manufacturing industry had been negative by 4%. The Gross Added Value was also negligible[6].

Fig. 2 – Weight of the manufacturing industry in Angola (2nd quarter of 2020)

Contribution to GDP (%)4,8
Year-on-year change (%)-4

Source:Banco Nacional de Angola. Contas Nacionais (bna.ao)

III. Industry relaunch project in Angola

Any project to relaunch the industry should start by having the right context. This context is a free economy with a social climate conducive to investment. The social climate is based on six necessary assumptions:

i) Absence of massive corruption. Corruption distorts the rules of economic competition and prevents free access to markets, fundamental conditions for industrial development;

ii) No barriers to accessing markets. Entrepreneurs should be free to obtain their production factors and settle in to produce;

iii) Functional Justice System. The justice system should not be seen as corrupt, slow and incompetent, but as applying the rules, punishing those who do not fulfill contracts and having legal and normal forms of debt collection;

iv) Reasonable taxes. Taxes should tend to be moderate and not stifle productive activity;

v) Less red tape. Public administration should be pro-business and not create administrative bureaucratic obstacles to the installation and operation of companies.

vi) Pro-business state. The State should have a fomenting and proactive role in industrialization, pointing and framing paths, building infrastructures, qualifying the workforce and establishing partnerships.

Fig. No. 3- Context for the industrial relaunch

In view of the necessary context, the important thing is to point out the axes through which the efforts of industrial growth should be channeled.

We see four axes of industrialization in Angola. These axes are chosen taking into account the economic history of Angola, its wealth and potential, the experiences of global industrialization and the possible trends of the markets in the coming decades.

Thus, we propose an industrial development according to the following points that can be interconnected or complementary:

1-Agriculture;

2-Basic needs industries;

3-Industries of development of natural wealth;

4-Future: renewable energies and digitalization.

Fig. N. º4 – Axes of the Industrial Relaunch Project

1-Agriculture

The agricultural industry represents the natural development of the Angolan potential already in operation and which was the subject of our previous report[7].

This a small example to gauge the potential. Recently, it was reported that Angola has been the main banana producer in Africa for six consecutive years. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Angola is the largest African banana producer and the seventh in the world with an offer of 4.4 million tons[8].

It will be elementary that it will be easy and possible to create an industrial line based on bananas: fruit juices (beverage industry), medicinal exploitation of banana / potassium (chemical / pharmaceutical industry), etc., are some of the possibilities in the refrigeration or pharmaceutical industry regarding banana.

The same type of reasoning can be applied to products and natural resources that Angola has or exploits in abundance. By internally transforming its natural resources and products, the country adds value to them, ceasing to be dependent on the mere evolution of the world price of raw materials.

2-Basic needs industries

Basic needs are understood as food, clothing and housing. This industrial axis represents an industry in which no specific sophistication is required and it is possible to make an import substitution without special losses of competitiveness, in addition to making it possible to create export markets in similar countries. In addition, Angola has already had a powerful industry in the area of ​​food, beverages and textiles. With a market of 30 million people that can easily be extended to many millions more with the developments of the Southern African Community (SADC) and the African Free Trade Area, Angola has enough potential demand for essential products: clothing , shoes, houses (obviously), basic food products from yoghurts to beers. There is no reason not to create its own industry with its own brands, in many cases imitating what has been done successfully in countries in these areas such as Bangladesh and Vietnam.

3-Natural wealth development industries

Another industrial axis, which basically replicates in a more comprehensive way what was mentioned in the first axis, focuses on national wealth, now not agricultural, but the rest. It has all the logic and economic rationality to use and transform what exists in Angola, adding value to it instead of exporting in gross terms, allowing capital gains to be appropriated by others. Here we have the most obvious example, oil. What makes sense is to develop the industry downstream from oil: refining, petrochemicals, plastics, fertilizers, etc. As the United Nations expert Carlos Lopes said, “The question is clear: it is not turning your back on wealth, such as oil, but integrating it in the transformation and making Angola a country that invests in the transformation of its raw material. instead of exporting it gross. This means investing, in addition to refining, petrochemicals, fertilizer production, etc. [9]

4-Future: renewable and digital energies

The final axis is connected to renewable energies and the digital transition. Today, it is common ground that there is a demand for the replacement of oil by clean and renewable energies. In the United Kingdom, the goal was announced in 10 years to end the circulation of gasoline or diesel cars. Electricity generated by renewable energies seems to be the future. Large oil companies like BP or Aramco are transforming or embracing these areas. Now Angola has excellent natural conditions for this investment in renewable energies. Solar energy from the start. An industrial niche around solar energy and electricity production would be a bet to consider very seriously.

From the point of view of the digital transition, Angola will be able to make an important qualitative leap using digital techniques for the development of applications for the massification of basic and secondary education, for basic health and in the financial area. Here we have an industry of digital applications for teaching, health and banking that could be developed in Angola by Angolans, immediately combining a synergy between betting on health and education alongside digital industrialization.

IV-Coordination of the industrial relaunch project

On the part of the State, there must be a commitment to this project that will essentially be up to the private sector.

However, the State must create the legal and institutional framework, prepare financial and fiscal incentives, build infrastructure, promote the training of agents capable of change and establish partnerships.

For the task of coordinating the activities of the State with a view to industrial relaunch, there should be a coordinator directly dependent on the President of the Republic: a Czar of the Industrial Project.

Fig. No. 5 –  State’s role in relaunching the industry


[1] Nuno Valério e Maria Paula Fontoura, A evolução económica de Angola durante o segundo período colonial — uma tentativa de síntese, Análise Social, Quarta Série, Vol. 29, No. 129 (1994), pp. 1193-1208, p.1193.

[2] idem, p.1203

[3] Ibidem.

[4] [4] Op.cit. p.1207.

[5] Carlos Lopes, Petróleo deve ser utilizado na industrialização de Angola in https://www.dn.pt/lusa/petroleo-deve-ser-utilizado-na-industrializacao-de-angola—economista-carlos-lopes–10905179.html

[6] Dados do Banco Nacional de Angola in https://www.bna.ao/Conteudos/Temas/lista_temas.aspx?idc=841&idsc=15907&idl=1

[7] https://www.cedesa.pt/2020/06/15/plano-agro-pecuario-de-angola-diversificar-para-o-novo-petroleo-de-angola/

[8] https://www.angonoticias.com/Artigos/item/66803/angola-e-o-maior-produtor-de-banana-em-africa-ha-seis-anos

[9] Carlos Lopes, see note 5

The African Continental Free Trade Area boosts Angola’s economic growth

1-Introduction: The Free Trade Area and Angola

Angola deposited the ratification of accession to the African Continental Free Trade Area (ACFTA) on the 4th of November 2020, after the National Assembly approved for ratification on the 28th of April of this year, and the President of the Republic signed a Letter of Ratification on 6 October.

The agreement is scheduled to enter into force on 1 January 2021.

The ACFTA has so far been ratified by 30 countries and, in the first phase, will lead to the elimination of tariffs on 90% of products. In addition, the agreement commits countries to progressively liberalize trade in services and to deal with a number of other non-tariff barriers, such as long delays at national borders that hinder trade between African countries. Eventually, in the future, the free movement of people and a single African air transport market may emerge within the newly created free trade area.

The goal of this agreement is to create the largest free trade area of ​​its kind in the world, with a gigantic market from Cairo to Cape Town. The ACFTA brings together 1.3 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $ 2 trillion.

Essentially, the agreement’s business goals are:

-Create a single market, deepening the economic integration of the continent;

– Assist the movement of capital and people, facilitating investment;

– Move towards the establishment of a future continental customs union.

As stated, the agreement initially requires members to remove tariffs on 90% of goods, allowing free access to commodities, goods and services across the continent.

Table 1 – ACFTA Goals

2- The impact of the FTA on Angola’s foreign trade

Recent modeling by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) projects that the value of intra-African trade will be between 15% and 25% higher in 2040 due to the ACFTA. The analysis also shows that least developed countries are expected to experience the greatest growth in intra-African trade in industrial products by up to 35%[1].

There is no doubt that insertion in a free trade area increases foreign trade in a country, this should happen in Angola, aiming, in view of the United Nations data, for a reinforcement of at least 25% of foreign trade with the rest of Africa until 2031.

This percentage arises from the weighting of the UNECA modeling referred to above with specific factors underway in Angola[2] such as the political commitment to liberalization and diversification of the economy, the operationalization of some international transport structures such as the completion of Luanda International Airport, the entry into operation the deep water port of Caio, as well as the operation of the Lobito Corridor; a rail corridor for international goods traffic starting in Porto do Lobito (Benguela) and integrating three countries – Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Zambia – the government’s wish being one of the main axes of circulation of raw materials and goods in the territories it crosses.

There is a tripartite combination that enhances Angola’s medium-term growth:

i) the liberalization and diversification of the Angolan economy with the manufacture of new products (some of which Angola had specialized in colonial times and later abandoned) and services,

ii) membership of the African free trade area, and

iii) the construction of transport logistics infrastructures.

This interaction is essential for the membership to a free trade area to be successful. The free trade area will be the driver of growth, which in turn is accelerated by the combination of economic diversification and new logistical structures. Tariff reductions can play a significant role in the development of intra-regional trade, but they must be complemented by policies to reduce non-tariff bottlenecks (eg logistics).

3- Increase in foreign trade and economic growth in Angola

The forecast is that the result of this interaction will be an increase in international trade that will lead to a more accelerated growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

As a rule, an increase in international trade leads to an increase in GDP[3].

In the past two centuries, the world economy has experienced sustained positive economic growth and, over the same period, this process of economic growth has been accompanied by an even faster growth in global trade. Similarly, we found that there is also a correlation between economic growth and trade: countries with higher rates of GDP growth also tend to have higher rates of growth in trade.

Among the potential growth factors that can result from greater global economic integration are: Competition (companies that do not adopt new technologies and do not cut costs are more likely to fail and be replaced by more dynamic companies); Economies of scale (companies that can export to the world face greater demand and, under the right conditions, can operate on larger scales where the price per unit of product is lower); Learning and innovation (companies gain more experience and exposure to develop and adopt technologies and industry standards from foreign competitors) [4].

Overall, the available evidence suggests that trade liberalization improves economic efficiency. This evidence comes from different political and economic contexts and includes micro and macro measures of efficiency. This result is important, as it shows that there are gains with trade that imply an increase in GDP.

It is difficult to calculate the impact on GDP of a 25% increase by 2031 in trade between Angola and the rest of Africa. In fact, Angola’s trade with other African countries in 2019 represented only 3% of the country’s total foreign trade[5]. We admit that the ACFTA will increase this number by 25%, causing an increase in the total Angolan trade between 0.75% to 1% compared to the relative weight mentioned.

In this sense, a conservative perspective based on historical data on the relationship between increased trade and GDP growth in other countries with many differences between them points to a possible 1: 1 ratio. (See table below that allows establishing this correlation with some security).

Table 2 – GDP and Trade growth in several countries (sources: those mentioned in the Table)

In this case, the increase in foreign trade until 2031 would imply an average increase in annual GDP to GDP growth between 0.75% to 1% between 2021 and 2031 in Angola due to the operation of the ACFTA. If, for example, for 2022 there was a GDP growth forecast of 2% without ACFTA, with ACFTA that forecast could reach 2.75% to 3% and so on.

It should be noted that this result is only possible if the following conditions are met:

-Effective operation of the free trade zone;

-Liberalization and diversification of the Angolan economy;

-Concretization and operationalization of transport logistics projects (airport, deep water port, and international railway).

The political framework that the Angolan government wants to give to the economy of increasing structural reforms and competition is in line with the advantages that may arise from the increase in trade with the rest of Africa.

In addition, public policies must address the costs of adjusting trade integration:

  • Foster agricultural productivity in less diversified economies;
  • In some countries, mobilize domestic tax revenue to offset losses;
  • Use targeted social and training programs to facilitate worker mobility between industries to mitigate adverse effects on income distribution.

3-Conclusions

In conclusion:

It is possible to foresee a 25% growth in Angola’s external trade with Africa by 2031 if the African Free Trade Area is really implemented and the internal policies are adequate.

This growth may result in an average annual growth of the economy in those years, from 0.75% to 1%.

This is good news for Angola.

Table No. 3 – IMF% GDP growth forecasts adapted[6]


1 Vera Songwe,  Mamadou Biteye, African  Trade  Agreement: Catalyst  for Growth, UNECA, https://www.uneca.org/stories/african-trade-agreement-catalyst-growth

2 The modeling we have adopted assigns a weight of 60% to UNECA’s predictions (which act as a driving mechanism) and 40% to the domestically mentioned internal factors in development (accelerator mechanism), believing that it is the virtuous combination of the two that will make it possible to exponentiate the growth of trade.

3 Frankel, J. A., & Romer, D. H. (1999). Does trade cause growth? American economic review, 89(3), 379-399.

4 Esteban Ortiz-Ospina (2018), Does trade cause growth? https://ourworldindata.org/trade-and-econ-growth

5 Cfr. http://www.expansao.co.ao/artigo/134739/trocas-comerciais-de-angola-com-africa-representam-so-3-do-total-do- comercio-com-o-mundo?seccao=exp_merc

6 https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/AGO / October 2020. FTZ projections are our sole responsibility, although based on the IMF forecasts of October 2020 and imply the verification of all conditions prescribed in the text.

Proposal for a pilot job guarantee design in Angola

Introduction: the magnitude of the unemployment problem and the need for a systematic government response

In Angola, in the third quarter of 2020, the unemployment rate stood at 34%[1]. This number corresponds to a chain increase (i.e., compared to the previous quarter) of 9.9% and homologous (referring to the same period in 2019) in the order of 22%[2]. In view of these data, whatever the perspective adopted, it is easy to see that unemployment is a fundamental and serious problem facing the Angolan economy and societies.

Fig. Nº 1- Recent evolution of the unemployment rate in Angola (2017-2020). Source: INE-Angola

So far, the government recognizes this problem, but is betting on the recovery of the economy at the private sector level, to resolve the issue, believing that the State can do little to face the situation. The solution lies in economic growth and business dynamism, says the executive. The President of the Republic, João Lourenço, was clear in the last speech of the State of the Nation when he stated: “priority of our agenda [is): to work for the resuscitation and diversification of the economy, to increase the national production of goods and basic services, to increase the range of exportable products and increase the supply of jobs. ” João Lourenço makes an indelible link between the diversification of the economy and the increase in national production and the decrease in unemployment.

Basically, the government relies on the traditional postulate stated by the American economist Arthur Okun, according to which there would be a linear relationship between changes in the unemployment rate and the growth of the gross national product: with each real GDP growth in two percent would correspond to a one percent decrease in unemployment[3]. The truth is that several empirical studies do not confirm this empirical relationship at all, and in recent years in several countries around the world, an increase in GDP has not led to a sharp decrease in unemployment, while in other cases it has, therefore, it is difficult establish a permanent relationship between unemployment and GDP. In addition, the magnitude of unemployment in Angola would imply that in order to decrease the rate for the still frightening 24%, GDP would have to grow 15% …

The fundamental issue is that the problem of unemployment in Angola is not cyclical, but structural, this means that it is closely connected to the permanent deficiencies of the Angolan economy and does not have a mere dependence on the economic cycle.

The fact that the problem of unemployment is structural and of an economic recovery for the years 2021 and onwards is only between 2% and 4% of GDP[4], according to the current IMF projections, imply that such economic animation will have little impact on employment.

In this sense, it is essential to understand that the solution to the problem of unemployment does not depend only on the market and the economic recovery, it requires, at least in the short term, the muscular intervention of the State. It is in this context that this proposal for a pilot experience arises.

Fig. No. 2- GDP growth projections Angola (2021-2024). Source: IMF

A pilot job guarantee experiment in Angola

Starting from the first experience of universal employment guarantee in the world, designed by researchers at the University of Oxford and administered by the Austrian Public Employment Service, which takes place in the Austrian city of Marienthal[5], the same methodology would apply to a specific location in Angola, possibly, to a specific municipality in Luanda.

According to this regime to be implemented on an experimental basis in a municipality in Luanda, a universal guarantee of a properly paid job would be offered to all residents who have been unemployed for more than 12 months.

In addition to receiving training and assistance to find work, the participants would have guaranteed paid work, with the State subsidizing 100% of the salary in a private company or employing participants in the public sector or even supporting the creation of a microenterprise. All participants would receive at least one minimum wage set in accordance with the Presidential Decree that regulates the matter appropriate to a life with dignity.

The pilot Design would work as follows:

i) All residents of the chosen Luanda municipality, who have been unemployed for a year or more, will be unconditionally invited to participate in the pilot design.

ii) Participants begin with a two-month preparatory course, which includes individual training and counseling.

iii) Subsequently, participants will be helped to find suitable and subsidized employment in the private sector or supported to create a job based on their skills and knowledge of the needs of their community or will still be employed by the State.

iv) The job guarantee ensures three years of work for all long-term unemployed, although participants may choose to work part-time.

Fig. No. 3- Brief description of the pilot employment design

In addition to eliminating long-term unemployment in the region, the program aims to offer all participants useful work, be it in paving streets, in small community repairs, in a day care center, in the creation of a community cafe, in access to water and energy , basic sanitation, in the reconstruction of a house, or in some other field.

The pilot project is designed to test the policy’s results and effectiveness and then be extended to more areas of the country.

Financing

“As part of the asset recovery process, the State has already recovered real estate and money in the amount of USD 4,904,007,841.82, of which USD 2,709,007,842.82 in cash and USD 2,194,999,999.00 in real estate, factories, port terminals, office buildings, residential buildings, radio and television stations, graphic units, commercial establishments and others. ”

Thus, the President of the Republic spoke in the most recent speech by the State of the Nation mentioned above.

Now, nothing better than to allocate part of these recovered funds to the promotion of employment. Consequently, an amount withdrawn from there would be used to create an Employment Development Fund which we would simply call, because of the origin of the amounts, “Marimbondos Fund”. This Fund would receive part of the recovered assets and would use them to finance initiatives to promote employment such as the one presented here. Money withdrawn in the past from the economy would return to this one to foster work for the new generations.

With this self-financing model, any constraints imposed by the International Monetary Fund or the need for budgetary restraint would be removed. The promotion of employment would have its own funds resulting from the fight against corruption. There doesn’t seem to be a better destination for money than that.

Fig. No. 4- Financing the pilot Design


[1] https://www.ine.gov.ao/

[2] https://www.ine.gov.ao/images/Idndicador_IEA_III_Trimestre_2020.PNG

[3] Arthur M. Okun, The Political Economy of Prosperity (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 1970)

[4] https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/AGO#countrydata

[5] https://www.ox.ac.uk/news/2020-11-02-world-s-first-universal-jobs-guarantee-experiment-starts-austria

Sonangol and the reinvention of the Angolan economy

This is a time of reinvention for Angola. Sonangol is no longer the engine of the Angolan economy and it is necessary to find a new driver. There are two reasons for the need to overcome the economic model based on a single product – oil.

The first reason is Sonangol itself. The results for 2019, presented by the Angolan oil company, are structurally discouraging. Although they show a profit, this profit derives from unrepeatable extraordinary results and the essential elements of the oil operation are stagnant: production does not increase, sales do not exceed the level of previous years. The company’s net income was USD 125 million. However, revenues remained stable compared to the previous year. Sonangol produced around 232 thousand barrels of crude oil per day, a number similar to the past and made sales of USD 10,231 million, which represents a 4% reduction compared to the 2018 financial year.

In short, oil exploration no longer adequately supports Sonangol. Not supporting Sonangol means not supporting the country.

In addition to this stagnation at Sonangol, there is the fact that oil is being increasingly viewed with skepticism, seeking to invest in alternative energies and moving away from the use of black gold. This is obviously not a short-term process, but it will have been accelerated with the Covid-19 pandemic. Oil will still have price rises, possibly peaks in higher demand, but everything indicates that the gluttonous years will be over, as other energy sources will emerge that will more or less gradually replace oil. Just note that in the last few months the price of the Brent barrel has fluctuated between USD 53 in October 2019, USD 60 in January 2020, USD 12.78 in April or USD 40.7 recently. However, he never returned to the 2014 figures where he was often above USD 100.

These two reasons mean that the Angolan economy has to reinvent itself, and more quickly than it thinks. It is not just a matter of restructuring Sonangol and focusing it on the oil business. It is not enough, because this business is stagnant. It is the economy itself that needs restructuring, which in the official jargon of the Angolan government is called diversification.

The problem is that diversification implies the creation of a new offer in the Angolan economy, of the production of goods and services that did not exist in the recent past. And for production to exist, investment is necessary. Investment requires, obviously, the contribution of capital.

And here we face another issue that affects the Angolan economy, which is the lack of capital and the recessive policies that intensify this scarcity. Following the parameters chosen by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the neoclassical orthodoxy of the economy, a program to contain / reduce public debt and reduce the deficit is being imposed on Angola.

We have many doubts as to whether such a program is justified in the case of the Angolan economy, especially considering the doctrinal contributions in Modern Monetary Theory, but the fact is that such a program to cut spending and increase taxes is being followed. However, the pursuit of such a policy ends up limiting the availability of capital for investment, whether public or private. Therefore, it prevents the so-called diversification that is so necessary to overcome Sonangol’s stagnation.

Thus, the outlook facing the Angolan economy at the moment is difficult. On the one hand, its engine – Sonangol – is stalled, on the other, the creation of capital to mobilize productive investment to diversify the economy is being strangled due to the recessionary policies adopted. This has obvious repercussions on the economy’s figures. GDP growth is negative – 3.6%. Unemployment assumes a staggering number of 32.7% and inflation of 22.8% (similar in August 2020). None of these numbers are encouraging.

The Angolan economy needs political courage to reverse this state of affairs.

Sonangol has to be restructured, but as an energy company and not merely an oil company. In reality, it is not enough to focus on oil, you will have to present yourself with a modern renewable energy company, taking advantage, for example, of the sun. If the United Kingdom recently announced that it wants to become Saudi Arabia by the wind, Angola may be Saudi Arabia by the sun. Therefore, an imaginative restructuring of Sonangol is necessary.

At the same time, recessionary economic policy must be abandoned. Although there should be budgetary discipline and not paying works twice or paying wages to phantom employees, as well as not contracting public debt to feed private pockets, the fact is that the policy of financial rigor must be complemented by a policy of fiscal stimulus that allows building a sufficient capital base to carry out the necessary reproductive investment. A public and private pro-investment tax policy is fundamental in reinventing the Angolan economy.