“Credit lines benefit those who practice them, those who grant them and never the countries that receive them”, says Alves da Rocha, who acknowledges looking at relations between Angola and Portugal in a different way from others.
Last April, the Portuguese Minister of Finance, Fernando Medina, during a working visit to Angola, announced that Portugal had decided to extend the credit line from 1.5 billion euros to 2 billion euros in order to be able to support more projects. of investment to be carried out here in Angola.
This measure is one of the issues that Prime Minister António Costa will address during his official visit to Angola starting today.
“I don't see relations between Angola and Portugal in the same way that many people do. I do not analyze them only from an economic, commercial point of view and, even there, I believe that Portugal, if it is not already there, will face a lot of competition in the Angolan market, in the dispute of public investment projects, in the awarding of other services. , because today the Angolan market, and I suppose the Portuguese authorities will know, is a very disputed market, despite all the inconveniences and all the ills that the Angolan economy and Angolan society still have. It is a highly disputed market”, he argues.
A significant part of the competition comes from China, he considers.
“China is still present in Angola, in Africa, with suggestions for projects to overcome the burning problems of the African economies that the European economies cannot do and probably cannot do because there is still a weight of the consequences and organization of the colonial system in place. Africa”, he justifies.
On what Portugal can do to beat the competition, Alves da Rocha suggests that it “study and analyze”.
“Portugal has good sociologists, good economists. Therefore, Portugal has to see its institutions, it has to see in which areas Portuguese participation in Angola offers competitive advantages. And they are out there, it is necessary to discover them. They are there,” he reiterates.
African policy analyst Paula Roque, a researcher at the Institute for Security Studies in South Africa, is of the opinion that Portugal will always play an important role in Angola.
“I think that Portugal will always have a leading role in Angola. For now, because of the ease of language, then, the vast majority of Angolan laws are made almost mirrored with Portuguese laws. So there is a very deep understanding that is registered. And then, not only: Portugal is an entry [from Angola] to Europe without constraints”.
“Portugal often fails to look with a more critical eye, transparency, fairness, etc., at the transfer of Angolan funds, purchases of Portuguese assets, and this also shows that for Angola, Portugal is part of a 'plan B ’” he adds.
Other reasons are based on the fact, she describes, that “the Angolan elite has been buying houses and properties for several decades. They have financial interests, they send their children to study, and that shows that Portugal is a safe haven”.
“I don't think that will change now. Of course, Portugal can be surpassed in many things, in terms of construction companies, several other companies, Portugal can be surpassed, but it will never be completely set aside, especially since China is the biggest creditor of the Angolan State, but at the same time it -if a bit, it does not have the same preponderance with Luanda and we are now seeing much more of a aspect of [President] João Lourenço being well seen in Washington, against the traditional alliance with Moscow”, he says.
Referring to last year's elections, Paula Roque considers that Luanda "needed the legitimization of elections that were complicated, that there was evidence that there were irregularities that changed results, and it was not the Russians who were going to give that international legitimacy".
“It had to be the United States. That's why we also have one more element that creates an anchor for western interests and, in this case, Portuguese interests”, she reinforces.
Alves da Rocha advances with economic data to demonstrate the relevance of Angola and the appetites that the country raises for international partners.
“Angola needs bread for economic growth. According to the International Monetary Fund and according to the latest forecasts by the Angolan Government, by 2050 the average annual growth rate of our GDP should be around, at best, 5 to 6 percent per year. Which, considering the population growth rate, could mean a social gain of 3%, for which we have not been able to use these social gains resulting from the difference between GDP growth rates and demographic growth rates” , evokes.
”And therefore we have to grow. We need foreign investment here, be it Portuguese, French or American. We need foreign investment because foreign investment is investment that is, at least theoretically, associated with technology, associated with innovation, associated with penetration of international markets. And this is what Angola and even the African economies need”, he adds.
As for the ever-invoked need to diversify the Angolan economy, which is still very dependent on the oil industry, Paula Roque says that first it is necessary to move towards political decentralization.
“The reform programs are there. They are not being implemented. In order to have economic diversification, there has to be decentralization. And for that, municipalities are extremely important ”, she argues, considering that the current ‘status quo’, with the President of the Republic directly appointing provincial governors does not serve the interests of Angolans.
“Of course, the electoral package for these elections to be held has to be defined and it has to give power to provincial governments, in terms of their budget, in terms of the direct election of governors and municipal administrators and not being appointed by the President, because that, in fact, does not help the necessary political decentralization”, he says.
In this field, Portugal can also participate, “arranging local partnerships, not just in terms of Luanda, but in the provinces. The provinces are in a very serious situation of almost abandonment and it is important to create partnerships, create microfinance microstructures, try to get Angola to create an agricultural bank so that there is financing for cooperatives. The problem is the political will to implement it, ”she laments.
Alves da Rocha takes up what Portugal needs to do.
“Angolan investment capacity in the economy is weak. Our savings rate is probably not enough to generate these gaps so that we can have a higher investment rate. Therefore, private investment is fundamental”, he maintains.
The economist once again suggests that Portugal study and evaluate.
“You have to see the opportunities. They exist. Agriculture remains a sector that is important for the diversification of the economy. Agriculture is important and, above all, value chains, starting with agriculture, ending with manufacturing or inversely starting with transformation and ending with agriculture”, he concludes.