Angola has a few industrial industries. However, the production of consumer goods is significant and the construction industry gained a huge boost after the end of the civil war in 2002. By then, an estimated $ 60 billion infrastructure had been knocked out of the fighting that took place in 1975–2002.
Prior to Portugal’s independence in 1975, the industry was diverse. There were over 5,000 manufacturing companies with food processing, breweries, tobacco industries and textile manufacturing as the dominant branches. Two years later, all companies had been nationalized by the Socialist MPLA regime, while the Portuguese had brought home much of their equipment.
During the war years, production was constantly interrupted. The companies that manufactured goods for the oil industry fared better than others, as did the state cement factory, especially during a period when large power plant dams were being built.
Since the end of the 1980s, the MPLA government has been trying to attract private foreign investment to the previously completely state-controlled industry. In 2001, the government approved a privatization program. However, bureaucratic obstacles and a bad business climate have deterred foreign investors, and several state-owned companies have been taken over by the government-loyal elite, who often lack the right knowledge.
When the war ended in 2002, virtually all of the country’s bridges, 80 percent of the factories and schools, and 60 percent of the hospitals were in ruins. In addition, roads, railways and power lines had been demolished. The reconstruction has been led by Chinese and other foreign companies. In addition, housing, hotels, offices and shopping centers have been built, mainly in the overpopulated Luanda area, as well as a number of new suburbs. However, construction has partially recovered in line with the fall in oil prices from the summer of 2014. Some projects have been canceled due to the government being unable to pay the companies.
The oil industry has given a boost to some other industries as well. An old refinery is located in Luanda and a larger one is being built in Lobito; it was expected to be commissioned in 2017. The first domestic diamond processing plant, a collaboration with an Israeli company, was opened outside Luanda in 2005.
Angola shows strong surpluses in the trade balance with foreign countries, thanks to extensive exports of crude oil. Oil accounts for almost 95 percent of the export value, while diamonds largely account for the rest. The US was previously the most important export market for the oil, but nowadays most oil is sold to China.
The huge increase in export income in recent years – from $ 9.5 billion in 2003 to an estimated almost 70 billion in 2014 – has created a growing inflow of foreign currency. This, in turn, has provided room for rapidly increasing imports, mainly of goods to the oil industry and the state apparatus, but also capital and consumer goods. 90 percent of consumer goods are imported. The largest importing countries in 2013 were Portugal, China, the USA and South Africa.
Angola’s central bank has been forced to use large sums in foreign currency to support the domestic currency, kwanza, and therefore the foreign exchange reserve has at times been small.
In the past, most of Angola’s foreign trade with Eastern Europe took place, but the country also safeguarded trade relations with the West. The Western trade provided hard currency for the import of weapons and food, and the goods from the West had the highest quality. West, for its part, saw Angola’s wealth of resources as a reason to maintain contacts.
FACTS – FOREIGN TRADE
US $ 40,758 million (2018)
US $ 15,798 million (2018)
US $ 7,403 million (2018)
Commodity trade’s share of GDP
54 percent (2018)
Main export goods
crude oil, diamonds 1
Largest trading partner
China, Portugal, USA, South Africa, India (2013)
- also processed oil products, coffee, sisal hemp, fish and fish products, timber, cottonSources
Angola has a nice mix of a variety of cultures, landscapes and climates, which provide good conditions for tourism. After the civil war ended in 2002, foreign visitors began to find their way to the country.
Prior to Portugal’s independence in 1975, many Portuguese traveled to Angola, but the power ceased during the 1975–2002 civil war. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of foreign tourists nearly quadrupled. In 2013 Angola was visited by more than 650,000 tourists, most from Portugal, South Africa, China and Namibia. The tourism industry provides jobs to tens of thousands of Angolans when building new hotels and tourist facilities.
After the end of the war, large numbers of wildlife were moved to Kissama National Park through Operation Noah’s Ark. The park has become a major tourist attraction, as is the Mayombe rainforest and Kalandula waterfalls.
FACTS – TOURISM
Number of foreign visitors per year
397 000 (2016)
US $ 628,000,000 (2016)
The share of tourist income from exports
2.2 percent (2016)
The US wants an investigation into rape cases
The United States calls on Angola to investigate allegations of rape against women who have recently been deported to Congo-Kinshasa.
Flec members attack miners
Chinese miners in Cabinda province are attacked by members of a branch of the Flec separatists movement.
Congo-Kinshasa president visiting Angola
Congo-Kinshasa President Joseph Kabila visits Angola, although relations between the two neighboring countries have deteriorated due to the expulsions of Congolese and Angolan citizens, respectively (see October 2009).
International success for Angola
The MPLA government reaps long-awaited international success when Angola receives foreign credit ratings for the first time from a number of credit rating agencies (see Finance).
New constitution is adopted
Parliament adopts a proposal for a new constitution, which strengthens the presidency and abolishes the direct election of the president. Instead, the leader of Parliament’s largest party should automatically become president.
Shooting during football championships
Angola hosts the Africa Football Championship. During the tournament, a bus with Togo’s national team is shot by separatist rebels in Cabinda province.