Angola’s social and economic progress was in the spotlight as a delegation of eight executive directors from the African Development Bank Group recently embarked on an official mission to the country. The four-day tour provided them with a unique opportunity to gain a first-hand understanding of the bank’s impact and achievements in Angola.
During the visit, which took place from 6-10 March 2023, the executive directors engaged in constructive talks with representatives from important government departments such as planning, agriculture, and finance. They met with Vera Daves da Sousa, the minister of Finance and Governor of the African Development Bank for Angola, and discussed the significant reforms implemented in Angola over the past five years, including the adoption of a flexible exchange rate regime, the introduction of value-added tax (VAT), and the enactment of fiscal responsibility and anti-corruption laws. The executive directors praised Angola’s efforts to reduce its public debt-to-GDP ratio, which has been achieved at an impressive pace.
They met with representatives from key ministries including Economy and Planning, Agriculture, Fisheries and Higher Education, Science and Technology, and gained valuable insights from private sector actors during a meeting hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, BFA (Bank of Fomento Angola), Standard Bank, the Industrial Association of Angola, the association of agro-livestock producers, the Angola Development Bank and the Association of the Bank in Angola. Furthermore, they consulted the team of the African Development Bank’s country office, where they heard presentations on the macroeconomic and fiscal situation of the country and the African Development Bank’s operations in Angola. The Governor of the National Bank of Angola, José de Lima Massano, highlighted the country’s successes in stabilising the exchange rate and transforming financial regulatory processes and systems.
Angola makes strides in STEM education
Executive director for Mauritius, Gerard Bussier, who led the delegation, spoke about the importance of the African Development Bank’s support to the science and technology teaching sector. On a visit to CAZENGA Secondary School Number 3114 in Luanda, the directors heard compelling testimonies from students who had directly benefited from the transformational education project. The project has funded state-of the art biology, physics and chemistry laboratories for the school as well scholarships for over 800 students, including 610 scholarships to girls in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Angola suffers from low school retention rates and only one in 10 students go to university. This project has focused its intervention at the secondary school level, although some girls have since gone on to earn higher degrees, funded under the project. João Luis Ngimbi, executive director for Angola, praised the initiative and had some words of advice for the students. “You must strive and study for the better your living conditions, you should always think that in life you have time for everything, and we should always have time to study,” Ngimbi said.
Fisheries project boosts incomes for people of Zaire province
The executive directors also visited the municipality of funded Nzeto in Zaire province, northern Angola to tour the Fisheries Support Project. The Nzeto centre is part of the Bank’s Fisheries Sector Support Project and processes up to 90 tons of fish per week, through filleting, drying and salting, depending on weather conditions. About half of the production is exported to neighbouring countries (Congo Brazzaville and the Democratic Republic of Congo). In addition to touring the freezing and drying facilities, they met with the boat maintenance team and other users of the centre. They listened to the challenges of fishermen, women processors, and merchants. Lisa da Cunha, a boat owner, said the availability of freezing and processing facilities had boosted trade with the neighbouring Congos, and significantly increased the incomes of fisherfolk. While emphasising the wealth of the region’s fish stocks, da Cunha also spoke of the challenges faced in accessing markets and fish market prices.
Fishermen’s representatives explained the importance of investing in a pier to improve access to fish to improve safety at work. To mark International Women’s Day on the 8th of March, the day on which the executive directors visited, they handed out training certificates to women fish traders who had completed training in fish processing and conservation as part of the project. In Cabinda, the executive directors visited the Project for the Development of Agricultural Value Chains of the Province of Cabinda (CPAVCDP), which aims to provide better production, conservation, storage, transformation and marketing of infrastructure for commodity value chains. They also visited the Women’s Fishing Association.
Science and Technology park to transform research and innovation in Angola
A highlight of the executive directors’ visit was their attendance at a ground-breaking ceremony for the proposed Science and Technology Park of Luanda financed by the African Development Bank, as part of the Science and Technology Development Project. The project for the Development of Science and Technology (PDCT), is being executed by the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESCTI). Construction of the park is expected to last 30 months. Angola’s Minister of Higher Education Science Technology and Innovation Maria do Rosário Bragança, led the ceremony at which the phases of construction and its impact on Angolan society, were highlighted. “Luanda’s science and technology park could bring a new era of scientific research in Angola and its importance may also contribute to the development of the country’s economy,” the minister said.
During a meeting with Secretary of State for forestry of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr André de Jesus Moda, acknowledged that “the country [Angola] has great challenges in the sector, financial issues, dependence on rainwater to make agriculture and little knowledge in the transformation of products from the field.” Moda also mentioned infrastructure development plans drawn up by the government, such as the Planagrão, the construction of the Cafu channel for redistribution of water to peasants, and the construction of the development plan for the sector. African Development Bank Country Manager Pietro Toigo noted that the mission enabled the Executive Directors to not only verify the execution of programs financed by the Bank, but to have an overview of the economic framework of the country.
“The commitment of the government to implement bold strategies and policies to improve the macroeconomic environment is reflected at the level of sectional reforms that have been taking place in the economy. The investments that the government has made with the support of development partners and especially the African Development Bank have brought a new context to improve the living conditions of Angolans,” Toigo said.