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Angola's importance in Africa justifies spanish PM's visit, says analyst

The principal researcher at the Real Instituto Elcano and professor Ainhoa Marín pointed out that the "importance and weight" of Angola justifies the visit that the Spanish Prime Minister is making to the country starting Wednesday, which is considered a "priority" for Madrid.

: Lusa
Lusa  

"The choice of Angola has to do with its importance and weight in this region of Africa," Ainhoa Marín told Lusa news agency on the eve Pedro Sánchez travels to Luanda, where he makes an official visit on Thursday.

Luanda is the first stage of a short trip to Africa that will take Pedro Sánchez, accompanied by several businessmen, also to Senegal on Friday.

The "Focus Africa 2023" plan presented by the Spanish government last week attempts to mark a turning point in relations of all kinds with the African continent in order to achieve a new strategic partnership in which Madrid can lead the European Union's action with this part of the world.

The principal researcher at the Real Instituto Elcano is of the opinion that this ambition is not new and that the great interest in sub-Saharan Africa has been coming since at least 2019, when the previous government of Mariano Rajoy drew up the III Africa Plan, which preceded the current strategy.

The former Spanish Prime Minister had planned to visit Luanda on March 25 and 26, 2018, but the trip was cancelled at the last minute due to the political situation in Catalonia.

On that occasion, Rajoy had already planned to take to Luanda an important delegation of businessmen from the most diverse sectors, with particular emphasis on energy, water, telecommunications, transport, industry and tourism.

For Ainhoa Marín, the novelty now lies in the importance that the left-wing Spanish government places on issues related to the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equity in all social and economic activities.

Madrid has defined three objectives with the trip to Luanda: improve business opportunities, establish close diplomatic collaboration motivated by Angola's position in the continent and improve cooperation in security and defense.

According to a government source there are many Spanish companies that intend to apply for the modernization and diversification program of the economy proposed by the President, João Lourenço.

"It is precisely because Spain has little colonial past in Africa that it can now have advantages on this continent," the professor believes, adding that Spanish companies are also very "strong and competitive" in the rapidly developing renewable energy sector.

Ainhoa Marín stressed that the strategy defined in the document "Focus Africa 2023" also has the merit of "compiling" and giving "coherence" to a series of ideas and intentions in relation to Africa spread over several ministries.

The head of the Spanish government visits on Thursday morning an electricity substation that the Spanish company Elecnor is building to supply power to the municipalities of Bolongongo, Banga and Ngonguembo, in the province of Kwanza Norte.

He will then visit the D. Bosco Salesian Institute in Luanda, before having a working meeting with the President, João Lourenço, at the end of which several agreements and memoranda are expected to be signed.

The two countries are still negotiating the last details of a joint declaration, an agreement for the air transport sector, and three memorandums (fishing, agriculture, and industry).

Pedro Sánchez will then be the chief guest at an official lunch hosted by João Lourenço before a meeting between businessmen from the two countries in the presence of the two leaders.

According to the principal researcher at the Real Instituto Elcano Madrid also intends to serve as an interlocutor for the European Union on security and migration policy issues.

With a large number of illegal migrants trying to reach Spain by boat, this issue will be more important to address on the visit to Senegal.

Madrid's economic diplomacy is making a very strong bet since 2010, in the wake of the financial crisis, on extending its traditional area of influence (Latin America and North Africa) to other parts of the globe.

The "Africa Focus 2023" considers as "anchor countries" Nigeria, Ethiopia, South Africa; and as "priority countries" Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola.

The Real Instituto Elcano is a 'Think-tank' for international and strategic studies, carried out from "a Spanish, European and global perspective".

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