From Ecuador to Equatorial Guinea, smaller oil exporters are becoming targets not only for investors but also for geo-strategists. Angola is no exception.Yet
like so many other places driven by petrodollars, Angola shows many symptoms of the rentier state: politicians, businessmen and shareholders enjoy colossal surpluses on their bank accounts, while ordinary citizens face colossal deficits in public services, livelihoods and legitimate governance.
This essay offers a rapid tour of these horizons regarding Angola. Among its main points:
Angola has been deeply marked by its external relations. This paper seeks to place trends there in a context of global powers and flows, especially those of
petroleum and its enormous revenues - the riches that have induced war, corruption and poverty.
International competition for AngolaвЂ™s oil and money is intensifying; Europeans and Americans are no longer the only competitors in the game;
Poverty and inequality cast huge shadows in AngolaвЂ™s onshore life; after nearly 30 years of war, a hoped-for вЂњpeace dividendвЂќ has yet to be paid out for
Internally, the position of AngolaвЂ™s political class looks unassailable. It commands enormous patronage powers. It faces no major domestic opposition.This situation is unlikely to change in the absence of any countervailing social strata, such as might emerge from commerce or agrarian production;
Externally, the position of the oil industry gives it leverage.But without international public pressure, it is unlikely to use that leverage to pursue
transparency and democratic norms. Bringing oil industry firms to behave as global citizens is not impossible. A few global initiatives currently suggest ways forward, but require much more political backing and professional enforcement вЂ“ neither of which exist today in the management of the global economy.
Angola thus poses challenges not only of national democratisation and emancipation from poverty, but also of responsible, open governance at global levels.