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FundaciСѓn para las Relaciones Internacionales y el DiР±logo Exterior (FRIDE)

Angola: Global "Good Governance" also needed

Working paper no. 23

David Sogge

FundaciСѓn para las Relaciones Internacionales y el DiР±logo Exterior (FRIDE)

June 2006

SARPN acknowledges FRIDE as a source of this document:
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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:

  • International competition for Angola’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 Angola’s onshore life; after nearly 30 years of war, a hoped-for “peace dividend” has yet to be paid out for most citizens;

  • Internally, the position of Angola’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 – 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.
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.

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