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Universo SUMMER 2009

Phoenix rising

Ten-page report on Huambo

As old as T-Rex

The amazing welwitschia

Our Father

Angola welcomes Benedict XVI


oil and gas news SU_22-cover:Layout 1



Page 1


Universo is the international magazine of Sonangol Board Members Manuel Vicente (President), Anabela Fonseca, Mateus de Brito, Fernando Roberto, Francisco de Lemos

Sonangol Department for Communication & Image Director João Rosa Santos

Corporate Communications Assistants


Sheila O’Callaghan


Kamene M Traça

Nadiejda Santos, Lúcio Santos, Cristina Novaes, José Mota, Beatriz Silva, Paula Almeida, Sandra Teixeira, Marta Sousa

Alex Bellos



Art Director David Gould

Sub Editor Ron Gribble

Advertising Design

Group President

John Charles Gasser


Matthew Alexander

Project Consultant


Letter from the editor

Universo is produced by Impact Media Custom Publishing. The views expressed in the publication are not necessarily those of Sonangol or the publishers. Reproduction in whole or in part without prior permission is prohibited.


Readers’ letters


Angola news briefing

Nathalie MacCarthy

Circulation: 17,000

Cover: Ciro Fusco/epa/Corbis




Figured out A snapshot of Angola in numbers

Huambo in bloom In a ten-page feature we look at reconstruction work in Huambo, Angola’s second city, and see how far it has come since the end of the civil war. Residents like Idalina Chimuanga, pictured below, talk about their hopes for the future

Luanda hosts first housing forum; Emirates is latest airline to fly to Angola; state bank issues treasury bonds in kwanzas; Cuban President Raúl Castro makes official visit to Luanda; traffic laws introduced to reduce accidents on the roads; US grants Angola $120m credit facility; business parks planned for all 18 provinces

This magazine is distributed to a closed circulation. To receive a free copy:

53 Chandos Place, London WC2N 4HS Tel + 44 20 7812 6400 Fax +44 20 7812 6413


Kamene M Traça

Circulation Manager

Bernd Wojtczack



Sonangol News

18 The day the Pope came to Angola

Benedict XVI flew in to Luanda on the first African trip of his Papacy. Louise Redvers was there

24 Gold, chocolate and oil Nicholas Wadhams on Ghana’s preparations to be Africa’s newest oil producer

28 Old man of the desert The welwitschia, which lives in the Namibe desert, is one of the strangest plants in the world

34 G-force An interview with Angolan R&B singing sensation Paul G, nominated for a top award

Kamene M Traça

CIRO FUSCO/epa/Corbis


38 Sonangol

news briefing Angolan Oil Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos conducts his first meeting as president of Opec; Sonangol and Portuguese bank CGD set up investment bank joint venture during first Angolan state visit in Lisbon; Sonangol among the bidders for a contract in Iraq; São Tomé and Príncipe deal close; helping those hit by floods; new laboratory opens at Sonils

40 Full steam ahead Excerpts from Sonangol chief executive Manuel Vicente’s annual speech to journalists

44 Refine time Focus on the $8 billion project for a refinery in Lobito, which will make Angola self-sufficient in refined petrol products. We speak to Anabela Fonseca, who is in charge of the project and the only woman on Sonangol’s board

50 The Big Picture A map of the four railway lines in Angola with details of plans to restore them to their former glory. It is hoped that the Angolan lines will eventually be connected to the networks of neighbouring countries

SUMMER 2009 3


Alex Bellos

Letter from the editor

Hinterland to the fore


ost foreigners working in Angola only know one city: Luanda. It is where the international planes land, where the multinational companies are largely based and where about a quarter of the country’s 13 million people live. Luanda’s position as a safe haven during the civil war meant that its population rocketed. Hundreds of thousands of Angolans fled there from areas inland beset by fighting. In this issue of Universo, however, we show that Angola is much more than just the capital. Over ten pages we print a special report on Huambo – the nation’s second city. Huambo was caught up in some of the worst fighting of the war. Now there is peace, the city is reviving. Huambo may receive less attention and financial support than Luanda, but it has advantages over the capital and in many ways is a much nicer place to live in. Situated in the central highlands, it has a less harsh climate and it is a lot less crowded. It is a city of parks, tree-lined streets and open spaces. Much of Huambo’s future success will depend on its transport links. The city is surrounded by fertile land that used to be a centre of agriculture – and hopefully will be again in the years to come. Already the


rebuilding of the road network means that Huambo is only five hours by car from Luanda – less than half the time than the journey used to take. Huambo is also a stop on the Benguela Railway, which once connected the Angolan Atlantic coast to what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. In the inside back pages we print a map of the four railways in Angola with details of the renovation work that is being done on them. In the next few years more than a thousand kilometres of track are due to come into use. South of Huambo, near the border with Namibia, the landscape becomes hotter and more arid. The desert here is home to a remarkable inhabitant: the welwitschia, one of the world’s most fascinating plants. It is believed that the welwitschia may live for up to 2,000 years. The resilience and peculiar beauty of the plant has made it a national symbol. Since our last issue appeared, two significant events have taken place. First, the Pope visited Angola. Our reporter Louise Redvers was there and witnessed extraordinary scenes including a Mass that was seen by about a million people. Angola has the highest percentage of Catholics than of any country in Africa, a result of Portuguese colonisation.

Secondly, Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos made his first state visit to Portugal. During the visit, the presidents of both countries announced the creation of a development bank jointly funded by Sonangol and the Portuguese state-run Caixa Geral de Depósitos. Despite the global economic downturn, Sonangol is continuing with its major investments in Angola – such as the new refinery in Lobito. We interview Anabela Fonseca, the only woman on Sonangol’s board, who is in charge of the refinery project. We also include extracts from Sonangol chief Manuel Vicente’s annual speech to journalists. When asked whether the financial crisis will have any impact on the company’s activities, he was bullish. Referring to investments in the refinery project, in the expansion of the fuel distribution network and in stock, he replied: “These investments will not slow down. On the contrary, they will be increased.” Angola currently has only one refinery, in Luanda. The decision to build the second one in Lobito reinforces the point that regeneration is happening on a large scale in the rest of the country too.


Eye-popping pictures

André Teixeira, Communication Division, Total E&P Angola

Kamene M Traça

Peter Batson,

I can see inside your mind: the glass squid, which lives in the deep oceans of the Southern hemisphere, can grow to about 20cm in length. The image was in the Os Abismos exhibition.

Dear Sir I very much enjoyed the article about Angolan postage stamps featured in the last edition of Universo, as I did the reports on Luanda’s art scene and the Fundação Sindika Dokolo published in the previous edition. These are stories that many people do not know about until brought to their attention by your magazine. Total has been present in Angola for many years and we believe it is very important to support the country culturally as well as economically. That was one of the reasons why, in conjunction with the Total Foundation for Biodiversity, we sponsored the Os Abismos exhibition of underwater photography at Luanda’s Natural History Museum this year. The photographs remind us of the hidden beauty in the oceans around us. I hope that your readers were able to enjoy the exhibition and I look forward to reading about the next cultural event in your pages.

Flying high Dear Sir I was interested to read your feature on Angola’s booming aviation industry. I have recently moved to Luanda and have never seen such an in-demand route for business travellers. It is good news that even more airlines are now flying to Luanda and this should bring down the cost of flights. When TAAG returns to flying in Europe, this will also increase the competition and benefit travellers. The upgrade of the airport is also much needed and very welcome. Henrique Almeida, Luanda

We welcome your opinions. If you would like to have a letter published, please email Letters may be edited for length.

SUMMER 2009 5

Angola news briefing Million homes

Carlos Moco

More than 700 people attended the first national housing forum at Luanda’s Palácio dos Congressos. Opening the event, President José Eduardo dos Santos acknowledged Angola’s lack of housing and said it was one of his government’s biggest challenges. He reaffirmed his election pledge to build a million homes in the next four years. President dos Santos said the problems of people living in crowded and disorganised urban areas could lead long-term to social instability and that everything possible must be done to help provide better housing. The event was attended by MPs, ministers, regional and traditional authorities, civil-society members, banks and construction companies. There were presentations and discussions about all topics, from building more housing, particularly for low-income families, to finding ways to reduce high construction costs.

Strong allies Cuban President Raúl Castro visited Angola in February to underline the strong co-operation between the two countries. Castro, who took over from his ailing brother Fidel nearly three years ago, held talks with President José Eduardo dos Santos and attended a special session of the National Assembly. Cuba’s relationship with Angola began in 1976 soon after liberation from the Portuguese and they were strong allies during the civil war, sending thousands of troops to support the ruling MPLA. Over the last 30 years, more than 10,000 Cuban doctors and health workers, as well as 16,500 teachers, have come to Angola, while more than 18,000 Angolans have studied on the Caribbean island. Forever comrades: Castro and dos Santos

In credit The United States has granted Angola a $120 million credit facility to be used for importing US products and services, ranging from oil sector requirements to farming equipment. The arrangement will be used in short-and-medium term private sector transactions. “This credit facility will provide Angola’s private sector expedited access to top-quality American goods and services, including sectors beyond oil and gas,” said US Ambassador to Angola Dan Mozena. “This is especially timely as Angola continues its massive reconstruction programme so that more Angolans can share in the country’s tremendous natural wealth.” The UK also extended credit to Angola worth $70 million through its Export Credits Guarantee Department. Pat Phillips, the British Ambassador to Angola, said the investments would be directed into “capital projects” across the private sector to help the country diversify its economy away from diamonds and oil.

Driving force BRUNO FONSECA/epa/Corbis

New countrywide business parks are being created, giving all 18 provinces logistic hubs to drive development and investments. Angola Business Park is a $700 million scheme by the Drago Group. The first park will be called Lunda Norte Business Park and built in the city of Dundo over the next two years. Developments in Luanda and Huambo will follow next. 6 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

Figured out Wind power


Angola could start producing electricity from wind power, according to João Baptista Borges, Deputy Minister of Energy. He made the announcement during a visit to Angola by Dutch Economy Minister Maria van der Hoeven. The pair discussed the development and modernisation of the energy sector. Holland already has vast experience of wind power, and there is a plan to establish technical contracts between the nations in order to carry out studies and evaluations. At the same meeting, Borges said the Angolan government hoped by 2010 to have electricity in all urban areas, in 60 per cent of peri-urban areas and in 30 per cent of rural areas.

Blue skies


More airlines are flying to Angola. The newest arrival is Emirates, which is launching a three-times-a-week direct service between Dubai and Luanda. The flights will leave Dubai on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, returning the same day from Luanda. KLM is hoping to be the next international airline to fly to Luanda. Negotiations for a Luanda to Amsterdam service are at an advanced stage. Lufthansa has also expressed an interest in increasing its flight frequency. Angola’s national airline TAAG remains blacklisted from flying in Europe because of safety concerns, but it hopes the ban will be lifted by July. Egypt and Nigeria have also had discussions about air links.

weight of a marlin fish caught during the Lobito Big Game Fishing tournament

60 per cent

reduction of imports of bottled water and juices aimed for by CocaCola which will invest in bottling the products in Angola instead

The name is bond For the first time, the National Bank of Angola is to issue treasury bonds in kwanzas in a bid to create longer-term stability in the national currency. The authorisation was given at a meeting of the government’s cabinet. Finance Minister Severim de Morais said: “It is a tool of budgetary, monetary and fiscal policy to reduce the effects of the economic and financial crisis.” The kwanza-dollar exchange rate has been steady for over a year at around 75 kwanzas to the dollar.

Belt up New traffic laws have been introduced in Angola to get tough with bad drivers and make the country’s roads safer. There are fines of more than $1,000 for a variety of offences including speeding, not wearing a seatbelt and using mobile phones while driving. The speed limit for cars within Luanda will be 60kmph, and 50kmph for buses and lorries. Pedestrian crossings must be observed and yellow boxes painted on the roads at junctions cannot be blocked. Traffic police are also cracking down on poorly maintained vehicles, and checking indicator lights and rear-view mirrors.


the value of the credit line from Germany to Angola – confirmed after President José Eduardo dos Santos visited Germany in March

7 $72bn

the number of years of peace celebrated in Angola on April 4, 2009

amount of bilateral trade between China and Angola in 2007, an increase from $10 billion in 2000

3 per cent Government’s predicted growth rate for the Angolan economy in 2009

SUMMER 2009 7

Kamene M Traรงa

Park life: Huambo is famous for its open spaces



HUAMBO IN BLOOM Louise Redvers reports on the renaissance of Angola’s second city ➔

SUMMER 2009 9



ith its public parks, openfronted villas and pavement cafés, Huambo feels more European than African. Add the Mediterranean climate and the tree-lined streets and you can see why the Portuguese called the city Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon) after their own capital. Located in the country’s lush central highlands, among hundreds of thousands of hectares of rich agricultural land and connected to the coast by the Benguela railway, Huambo was once a wealthy and successful city and was even tipped to replace Luanda as the country’s capital. Decades of war, however, stunted Huambo’s ambitions of greatness. The city was a major flashpoint between the ruling MPLA and the rebel group Unita and it saw some of the worst fighting in the country. Its beautiful buildings were devastated, the countryside peppered with landmines, and hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes. But today after almost a decade of peace with a stable political and economic outlook, Huambo is getting the chance to shine once more. The quirky 1950s Portuguese architecture is being restored, the bullet holes are being filled in and

painted over, and there are ambitious plans for new residential, hotel and office-block schemes. People who fled during the worst of the fighting in the 1990s are slowly returning to their homeland and there is a new buzz about the city. “Huambo has a lot of potential,” says Licínio Assis, Angolan board member of the Portuguese real estate firm Grupo Imocom which is behind a number of construction and business schemes in the city, including a 40-apartment residential and shopping complex and a water- bottling plant.

Well designed “There is a lot of money going to Huambo, and it’s becoming a real alternative to Luanda in terms of business and investment. We have to stop thinking just about Luanda; there is more to Angola than Luanda,” says Assis. What Huambo lacks in services, it more than makes up for in space and greenery. “Huambo was properly designed by architects,” says Assis. “Luanda, on the other hand, just sort of happened. The Portuguese arrived, settled and built things, but Huambo was planned first and that’s why it’s so well designed.” 

There is a lot of money going to Huambo. We have to stop thinking just about Luanda; there is more to Angola than Luanda


Licínio Assis, Grupo Imocom real estate

Pics: Kamene M Traça

City centre: Huambo’s main square and (below) its green lungs

SUMMER 2009 11


With all the rehabilitation and development, this city in the next five years will be completely new

Gregório de Jesus Tchikola, 30, grew up in Huambo but left in 1993 when the fighting was at its worst. Now he is back home teaching English at the Fisk Language School. “There’s a lot of development here. It’s starting to look like a very attractive city again – like a phoenix rising from the ashes ready for a new beginning,” he explains. “Huambo is not just in the centre of the country, it’s the heart of the country. Huambo has potential; it has everything – life, young people, education and many intellectuals. Huambo is like a springboard for development.”

City sights

A major part of this springboard is the improved transport links. A new road means the driving time between Huambo and Luanda is now around five hours, down from 12, and a tarmac link between Lubango and Huambo is set to be finished by 2010, opening the city to fast connections with the coast and onwards to the border with Namibia. The Benguela railway that previously ran through Huambo to the port of Lobito is also being renovated (see page 50) with a plan for it to continue on across the border into Zambia, and there are plans to build a dry port along the line near Huambo to be serviced by this railway line. In a recent interview, Huambo’s Deputy Governor Deolindo Henrique Barbosa said he wanted Huambo “to be one of the most important transportation axes in the country”. He added: “I believe with all the rehabilitation and development, this city in five years will be completely new.” Take a walk through the city centre today and it’s hard not to believe him. Giant billboards advertising new residential and hotel complexes beam down over manicured public squares, and colonial government buildings are being returned to their former glory. There are still many bullet-marked buildings, but week by week and month by month, these are being restored or replaced with new structures. Thanks to the  12 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

Pics: Kamene M Traça

Transport links

Deolindo Henrique Barbosa, Huambo Deputy Governor


“It’s a good place to live”


eacher Fidele Poutou came from Cabinda to Huambo in 1996 to help with French and English interpreting for the UN peacekeeping force. Thirteen years later, he’s still here and very much counts the city as his home. “Huambo is called the second city of Angola, but for me it’s the first,” he says. “The climate is good and we have good schools and universities. It’s very cosmopolitan and it has this European but also international feeling. It’s different to the rest of the country; we don’t

have the problems here that you have in Luanda with the traffic, the overcrowding and the noise. “Even when it rains here, it’s not a problem. The city is well designed and it’s not too full, so after heavy rain, the next day it’s OK again, not like in Luanda where rain always causes chaos.” Poutou, 39, says he remembers the Huambo from the war and has seen a dramatic change in recent years. “When I first came here, the city was in a bad way. Many buildings were destroyed and there were many problems, but in the last three to four years we’ve really seen some development. You’re seeing big businesses coming here, wanting to invest and to share in the development opportunities. There is a lot of new

construction, of new houses and offices and hotels. “Quite a few people are coming back here from Luanda, some from other places in Angola and from abroad because they are hearing it’s a good place to live.” The married father-of-one, who teaches English and French to pre-university students, says he has noticed a change in people’s feelings too. “I’m seeing in my students a new can-do attitude. They want to learn English and French because they want to work and make changes to their lives. When I first came here, people never talked about the future. They weren’t able to think beyond the present, but now it’s all about the future. It’s not just the physical structures which are changing in Huambo; it’s the mentalities of the people too.”

SUMMER 2009 13


“This is a city that has a future”


Kamene M Traça

elsa Simão was born in Huambo and has no plans to leave. The 22-year-old works in a clothes store next to the new market but hopes to become one of the first students to study medicine at the city’s newly opened medical faculty. “Huambo has seen a lot of changes in my lifetime,” she says. “During the war it was a very sad place and everything was totally destroyed. There were no cars, no power, no water, nothing. But now that we have everything it’s a much happier place today. “There are five universities here now so it’s a good place to be a student. I want to study medicine and I’m happy that I can do that in Huambo and don’t have to leave my family and travel to Luanda.” Simão, who is married and has a three-year-old son, lives in the Cidade Alta, the upper city. “This is a good place to live. There’s space, you’re free to walk around and there’s not much crime. There’s a much nicer atmosphere here. We have nightclubs now, cinemas, restaurants and the theatre. A lot has changed since the war. This is a city that has a future and we are all looking forward, not back to the past. More and more people who left during the war years are coming back because they want to live here again.”



Pics: Monte Adriano

Modern complex: The $450m Lake Park development

pleasant climate and clean wide pavements, everyone in Huambo – with the exception of those brave enough to use the motorbike taxis– seems to walk. “I walk everywhere,” says Manoel Pires, a Brazilian who runs the language school where Tchikola teaches. “You just don’t need a car here unless you want to leave the city. It’s so nice, and not like Luanda where you’re stuck in traffic all the time and can’t get anywhere. “We started the school in Huambo because it was easier to do business here. We are seeing more and more students every year. I think the fact that so many people want to learn English is a real reflection that the city is developing and wanting to move forwards.”

While there are a number of expatriate businessmen like Pires in Huambo, there are also plenty of Angolan businesses and that number will grow further with the restoration of the industrial park at Caála, 20 kilometres from the city centre. The other big project is the rehabilitation of the Gove Dam, which will eventually produce electricity for Huambo and Bié provinces. These schemes will generate jobs in the construction phase and also offer long-term employment opportunities for people in Huambo.

New homes With one million of the province’s 2.5 million population living within the city limits, there is increasing pressure on housing,

with haphazard townships stretching out from around the ordered centre. To help reduce this squeeze and improve living conditions, 4,500 new homes are planned and more than 1,500 hectares have been earmarked for dedicated social housing. Huambo is also developing its intellectual capacity and by the end of 2009 will have five universities, including the country’s only faculty of agriculture and veterinary studies. The medical institute, which closed during the war, reopened this year and a new polytechnic is expected to start taking students in the coming months. There will be a focus on technical courses to train people in skills needed for local industries such as the railway, the hydroelectricity plant and general  SUMMER 2009 15

HUAMBO Kuipers

Green city

Huambo’s location in the central highlands of Angola gives it a cooler, more Europeanstyle climate with more rain but plenty of sunshine making for perfect growing conditions. In Huambo’s heyday during the 1960s, it was known as the “granary” of Angola and a major exporter of products such as beans and maize. The legacy of war and landmines still looms large in the province, however, and the majority of farming is subsistence and small scale. It will take time to relaunch Huambo as a major agriculture exporter, but in the meantime the city is marketing itself as an eco-city. Home to the country’s Institute of Agricultural Research and Faculty of Agricultural Science, Huambo is the national leader in environmental matters.

It also has the Casa Ecologia, an environmental study and education venue, and the park in the city centre with its Estufa Fria (greenhouse) which is to be redeveloped and expanded to become a base for researching and preserving indigenous plants. In another reinforcement of its ecological importance, the province has been chosen by the government to pilot a project aimed at reducing land degradation. The scheme, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and with input from the United Nations, aims to reduce unsustainable agriculture, stop deforestation, prevent overgrazing and promote better environmental practices, particularly among subsistence farmers.

Pics: Kamene M Traça

Urban growth: the Estufa Fria, a blue greenhouse


construction. One of the new construction projects that will generate a significant number of jobs for the province is called Parque de Lago (Lake Park). The $450 million staged development will cover 150,000 square metres of land next to the airport and, as well as apartments, eventually include a four-star hotel, office space, exhibition and conference facilities, shops and local government buildings. The company behind the project, Monte Adriano from Portugal, sees Huambo as a good investment opportunity. “We believe Huambo is going to be very important for Angola like it was for the Portuguese,” says Tiago Patrício, a member of the board. “There are more and more people with purchasing power in Huambo and there are people outside the city who want houses in Huambo for their families or for doing business there.” Patrício says he has watched the city change during regular business visits. “Each time I go to Huambo, I am struck by the rate of development. Every time I am there, I see something new. It’s growing so quickly. “For example, when we opened a Toyota dealership we did not expect to sell many cars. We didn’t think there was much of a market for new cars in Huambo, but in the first year we sold 120 4x4s. The demand was so great, we had to move premises.” Monte Adriano, like Grupo Imocom, was among the early investors in Huambo and today it is reaping the benefits. “Huambo is crucial for us,” says Assis of Grupo Imocom. “It was the first place we came to in Angola. Four years ago, the then governor António Paulo Kassoma, who is now prime minister of Angola, was inviting people to invest in the province. We were given an opportunity, so we took it, and we’re benefiting from that now. “Of course, there’s always a risk involved in this kind of investment and it takes time. It’s not an instant return on your money, but in the long term we are absolutely sure that we are right to have gone to Huambo. We are coming across people all the time who want to leave Luanda to go and live in Huambo. As soon as more jobs and schools are there, we’re going to see a real population explosion.” 


“Our city is going to be beautiful”


dalina Beatriz Grevelda Chimuanga, known as Gigi, has run a restaurant in the city for 16 years and also has a beauty salon and small pension. She kept her restaurant open during the hardest times of the war and today is one of the city’s bestknown businesswomen. “I was born in Huambo, raised here and I will never leave,” says the 43-year-old. “This is my city and my home.” Today, her restaurant buzzes throughout the day but she remembers when business was not so brisk. “The business we did during the war

years was a business of survival,” she says. “We had nothing sometimes and it was extremely hard. Huambo was a very sad place. During the war our city was martyred and it was sacrificed, but the people of Huambo are marvellous for carrying on. “But today the past is the past. We’re living in the present and the road forward is one of development. People in Huambo are hard workers. Now we’re working to rehabilitate our city which is going to be beautiful like it was before when it was called Nova Lisboa.”

She says the biggest change has been the new roads which mean many more people are able to reach Huambo and to do business. Gigi, whose son and daughter aged 20 and 25 are both at university in Luanda, says she believes Huambo will soon be like the capital. “It will take, say, four to five years but I think Huambo will have the same services and businesses as Luanda, but with a better climate and without all the traffic. A lot of people are coming to start businesses and make money.”

SUMMER 2009 17

Full house: Angolans pack the Coqueiros stadium in Luanda to hear the Pope CIRO FUSCO/epa/Corbis



The day the Pope came to Angola The most Catholic country in Africa, Angola went wild when the Pontiff came to town. Louise Redvers reports âž”

SUMMER 2009 19


AP/PA Photos

Pope spoke in Portuguese An estimated 55 per cent of Angolans are Catholic – which makes it the country in Africa with the highest percentage of Catholics in the population. As such, it was an obvious choice for the first visit of Pope Benedict to Africa since he became Pontiff in 2005 at the age of 78. An experienced pianist, he also speaks many languages and made his public addresses in Angola in fluent Portuguese. Most of his comments made in Angola were well received. He called for an end to African wars, greed and corruption, and a fairer distribution of wealth among the continent’s poorest people. In 1491, Angola was the first in Sub-Saharan country to receive Catholic missionaries. The country was visited by John Paul II in 1992 to celebrate the 500th anniversary of this event during a brief lull in the civil war.


Church and state: Benedict XVI and dos Santos

AP/PA Photos


he first people began to arrive outside Luanda’s airport just after 6am and among those caught up in the excitement was Adriana Julião. Dressed in a colourful sarong, headscarf and white T-shirt, she clutched a poster of Pope Benedict XVI in one hand, and a flag bearing his face in the other. “I got here at 6.20am,” said the 24-year-old, “I wanted to make sure I was at the front so I would be able to see the Pope when he comes past. The fact that the Pope has come to Angola to visit us means so much and it brings so much happiness.” Within a few hours, Adriana and her friends were joined by thousands of people in lines four deep stretched back along the main road leading up to the airport. Singing, playing guitars, chanting, clapping and dancing, the crowds, mostly women, carried banners saying “Welcome Pope Benedict” and “Bless Us.” Sister Isabel Benjamin, 43, stood smiling as she waited for the Pope’s plane to touch down. “People here are very happy to receive the Pope,” she said. “It is like people are experiencing a God among us. Before, Angola was a war country, but now we are experiencing peace and the Pope coming here really is a very exciting moment for us. I hope he will bring us a lasting peace.” Igor Ribas, 25, told Universo he had got up at 5am to be there at the airport to see the Pope. “We are all very happy Pope Benedict is coming here,” he said, slightly breathless from singing. “John Paul II came here in 1992 but the country was very different then, we were at war. Now we are at peace and it is important Benedict can be here to see how we are doing.” By the time the Pope’s Vatican plane touched down on Angolan soil, there were more than 30,000 people waiting to greet him. He was given a red-carpet welcome at Luanda’s Fourth of February Airport and greeted in person by President José Eduardo dos Santos and First Lady Ana Paula dos Santos, together with a large group of senior church leaders and Angolan politicians. A huge roar went up as the plane came into sight overhead, but it was nothing com-

pared to the frenzy as the 82–year-old Pontiff drove past the gathered crowds in his white Mercedes Popemobile, which had been specially imported weeks before. Human chains of Girl and Boy Scouts struggled to contain the excited people, some breaking free and running alongside the Pope’s motorcade as it drove into town. Later that day Benedict met dos Santos at the Presidential Palace in Luanda’s Cidade Alta, this time for a private meeting lasting 45 minutes, and afterwards he attended a reception with local politicians and international diplomats.

Security checks In a nationally televised speech that evening, the Pope called on Africa to show “a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all. Armed with integrity, magnanimity and compassion, you can transform this continent, freeing your people from the scourges of greed, violence and unrest,” he said. He also called for “respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity and a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals.” Saturday morning began with more crowds gathering early to see Pope Benedict arrive to hold Mass at the Church of São Paulo. The city’s largest in terms of capacity, holding up to 1,700 people, the church is run by a community of Salesians and was extensively renovated for the occasion. Roads and pavements in the area were dug up and relaid, graffiti scrubbed from walls, new trees planted and gardens tidied and the previously tatty apartment blocks in the approach road spruced up with a new lick of paint. The Mass was by invitation only, but all guests underwent strict security checks, having their bags scanned by metal detectors before being allowed to enter. Outside, around the back of the church, thousands in white Pope Benedict T-shirts and caps gathered around radio sets and a giant television screen to watch the Mass from the street and join in with the singing. Benedict used this Mass to condemn the problem of children being accused of witchcraft and he called on Catholics to help bring people back to the true faith. He said: “It is up to you, brothers and sisters, following in the footsteps of those heroic and holy heralds of God, to offer the risen Christ to your fellow citizens. So many of them are living in fear of spirits, of malign and threatening 

Doing the Lord’s work: scenes from Pope’s tour

REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi


CIRO FUSCO /epa/Corbis REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

SUMMER 2009 21

Local tribute: Angolan dancers welcome the Pontiff

AP/PA Photos



Louise Redvers

Three graces: Silva Francisco, C茅lia Dolga and S贸nia Martins, from Lunda Norte


It was important for us to see the Pope... and it has definitely been worth it

powers. In their bewilderment they end up even condemning street children and the elderly as alleged sorcerers.” Later that afternoon, Benedict visited Luanda’s Coqueiros Football Stadium where he was greeted by 30,000 young people who packed the seats and pitch area for the meeting. As the Popemobile entered the stadium through the main gate, there were screams and cheers, and as he slowly made his way around the athletic track, the crowd surged to one side, everyone desperate to get a closer look. The event had the atmosphere of a pop concert and there was dancing, singing, and cheering with regular chants of the catchy radio and television advert for the Pope’s visit, “Papa, Amigo, Angola está contigo” (Pope, my friend, Angola is with you).

Stadium tragedy Silva Francisco, 17, Célia Dolga, 32, and Sónia Martins, 23, came all the way from Lunda Norte in the North of Angola to see the Pope. “We just really wanted to be here,” Sónia explained, “It was important for us to see the Pope so we travelled to Luanda, and it has definitely been worth it.” Denis Júlio, 29, a driver who lives on the outskirts of Luanda, and part of a church group attending the stadium event, added: “The Catholic Church has done a lot for young people in Angola, first through the war, particularly helping those who lost their parents, and now in peace time the church continues to help. Today is the day for young people to be here and see their Pope.” Inside the stadium spirits were high and the crowd boisterous, with people pushing to get past and long queues at all the gates. It later emerged that tragically on the way into the stadium earlier in the day two girls had been crushed to death and several other teenagers injured. Benedict opened his Sunday Mass outside the Cimangola cement factory by sending his condolences to the families of the young victims. The Mass on the northern fringes of Luanda was hailed as the highlight of the Pontiff’s visit and was believed to have been attended by nearly one million people, although some reported as many as three million. People started arriving while it was still dark, many coming by foot along the dusty road to avoid the traffic queues, and by 9am a sea of white Pope Benedict baseball caps stretched as far as the eye could see. The Pope arrived just before 10am and the crowds parted to allow his car to pass through and make its way up to the giant steel stage, which was decorated in red cloth flowers and surrounded by seats full of VIPs and choirs. The service lasted nearly an hour and a half and included readings, hymns, prayers, Holy Communion and an address from the Pope, where he acknowledged Angola’s years of suffering and called for an end to all wars in Africa. The music ranged from traditional high Catholic to African folk songs and was beamed out from giant speaker towers set up throughout the crowd.

Sónia Martins, who travelled 500km to Luanda from Lunda Norte

As the Mass finished and the throngs dispersed, people hummed and danced their way out of the site, their faces bright and smiling. One worshipper, Maria da Conceição de Silva Lemos, said the Mass was “beautiful” and an “inspiration”. The 73-year-old from Luanda said it had taken her two hours to reach the service and it was likely to take even longer to get home, but she added: “Of course it was worth it to see the Pope.” Maria Pelinganga, 46, said: “It’s a great blessing for us to have the Pope coming to our country. Today has been indescribable.” Following the stadium tragedy, security at Cimangola was tight and anyone seen to be pushing was pulled from the crowd. The sun, however, was the biggest enemy, as it beat down on the masses who had no shade except for hand-held umbrellas. There were reports of as many as 400 people needing medical aid for sunrelated illnesses and two people were taken to hospital. Pope Benedict was seen at times to wipe the sweat from his brow, but he left smiling and headed onwards to meet members of the women’s group Promaica (Promotion of Angolan Women in the Catholic Church) at Santo António Church in Cazenga. Here he gave an address, was sung to and presented with gifts and later met a number of the women. On the Monday morning, which the government declared at the last minute a half-day holiday, thousands once again took to the streets to watch Benedict make his final journey to the airport to head back to the Vatican. Before he climbed into his car for the last time, the Pontiff stepped out on the road to shake hands with some of the gathered nuns and smiled and waved at the cheering lines behind them. There was a short address at Luanda airport by both Benedict and dos Santos, with the President thanking the Pope for visiting his country and giving the people “a unique and privileged moment”. Dos Santos added: “It was exciting to see all the manifestations of faith, devotion and human warmth that were shown to you by the Angolan people. And on their behalf I am grateful that the Vatican has never lacked words of appreciation, cherish, hope and encouragement for the Angolan nation.” 

Angola gets world coverage Never before have so many journalists flown in to Angola for a single media event. More than 120 foreign journalists arrived in Luanda – 70 flying with the Papal party and 50 independently. Including Angolans, the press pack numbered more than 200. Wherever the Popemobile went, not far behind came two yellow minibuses transporting the Vatican correspondents and behind them, on foot, a pack of photographers and television crews. TPA (Televisão Pública de Angola), RNA (Rádio Nacional de Angola) and Rádio Ecclésia broadcast speeches and crowd scenes live and had reporters stationed around the capital to give updates and colour about the event. SUMMER 2009 23

GOLD, CHOCOLATE AND OIL Ghana is preparing to become West Africa’s newest oil producer. Can it avoid the problems that have beset Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea? asks Nicholas Wadhams

Riches of the sea: Accra beach at sundown



The oil curse is so called because many nations – including Equatorial Guinea and Nigeria – do not profit from oil, but suffer more than they did before it was found. Economic studies have shown that between 1970 and 1993, for example, resource-poor countries grew four times faster than countries sitting on a wealth of resources. Wary of the unrest in Nigeria’s Niger Delta, where rebels and bandits often attack oil wells because they believe they do not see any of oil’s benefits, Mills has used almost every oil-related appearance he has made since his election in December 2008 to vow that Ghana will not fall victim to its oil. “President Mills gave the assurance that the government will continue to co-operate with the oil-drilling companies in an open, honest and transparent manner,” said a government news release after the president met recently with executives from Tullow Oil and Anadarko Petroleum, two companies involved in oil extraction in Ghana. “He, however, served a reminder that the government will ensure that the oil and gas does not become a curse through lack of respect for the environment and shady deals.” Experts believe Ghana has a few distinct advantages that will separate it from its neighbours. For one, its economy already has 

Ariadne Van Zandbergen


arly this year, Ghana witnessed the peaceful transfer of power from one elected president to another. Now, with the discovery of a major oilfield off its shores, the country is hoping to show that oil can be a blessing, and not the curse it has been to so many developing countries. So far, analysts say that Ghana has taken many encouraging steps – promising transparency, seeking the advice of countries that did it right and planning to overhaul its regulatory framework – before oil starts flowing out of the Jubilee Field, estimated to hold 1.2 billion barrels of light, sweet crude which has a consistency on a par with the best in the world. “They have made all the right moves in reaching out and so forth,” says Monica Enfield, an analyst with PFC Energy in the United States. “On top of that, it is a very stable country, so as long as they don’t let oil overwhelm their economy they could probably do it right.” Ghana found that it was sitting on massive reserves of oil in 2007, the 50th anniversary of its independence from the United Kingdom. In the time since that discovery, both the former president, John Kufuor, and his successor John Evans Atta Mills, have vowed not to let Ghana fall victim to the oil curse.

SUMMER 2009 25


The service companies are setting more realistic prices for the activities that they provide our industry, which is a good outcome for oil and gas exporters and producers


President John Atta Mills

Coast near Accra

a couple of export pillars so oil money will not be a shock to the system. It is the world’s No. 2 exporter of cocoa and Africa’s secondbiggest gold producer.

Robust media Ghana also has a robust media and civil-society network to keep the government in line. Transparency groups are cautiously optimistic about the president’s promise to make public all oil contracts that have and will be signed. “Ghana has long been held up as a country in Africa that’s done it right and people had assumed it would do so in the oil sector,” says Nicholas Shaxson, an oil analyst at the London-based Chatham House think-tank. “It’s when the oil money really starts flowing in that you’ll have a real test of it.” The government has also maintained good relations with the oil companies, who so far say they are on track with plans to begin pumping oil out of Jubilee by the second half of 2010. The country 26 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

hopes to be producing 120,000 barrels per day by 2021. Tullow Oil’s exploration director Angus McCoss says his company has benefited from low worldwide oil prices, which are pushing down the price for contractor services and keeping the company on track. “The service companies are setting more realistic prices for the activities that they provide to our industry, which is a good outcome for oil and gas exporters and producers. Our economics for these projects, particularly in Ghana, are robust,” says McCoss, who also reveals that a floating production storage and offloading vessel is being fitted in Singapore. The most exciting part for the oil companies is that for all of Jubilee’s riches, there is ample evidence that more oil will be found along Ghana’s coast, in a stretch of Cretaceous-era rock stretching along West Africa. In early March, Tullow and its partners, including Dallas-based Kosmos Energy, announced a “significant light-hydrocarbon discovery” in the Tweneboa Field west of Jubilee.

AFP/Getty Images


Independence Arch, Accra

Angus McCoss, Tullow Oil


“Kosmos is extremely excited about the opportunities for oil exploration in Ghana and has an active drilling programme planned for the next several years,” says W. Greg Dunlevy, Kosmos Energy’s executive vice-president and chief financial officer. “Kosmos continues to explore its existing assets in West Africa, including Ghana, and seeks new-venture opportunities throughout the region.” The Ghanaian government’s big challenge will be whether it maintains the balance between reaping the wealth from oil and making sure it is prepared for the deluge. Human rights activists and local communities are urging Ghana to take things slowly, but time is not an advantage that Ghana has, particularly with the world in the grip of an economic downturn. Ahead of the presidential election in December, the government ramped up spending on infrastructure, civil servant salaries and other projects to please the country’s 24 million people, 20 per cent of whom are considered extremely poor. That profligacy led President Mills’s government to declare that Ghana was “broke.” Then, in March, the Standard & Poor’s credit agency cut its outlook on Ghana and the newly revamped national currency, the cedi, fell from parity with the US dollar to 1.4 to the dollar.

Golden Jubilee

Oil discoveries in Ghana

“In 2009, it emerged that the 2008 deficit is likely to be in the region of 15 per cent of GDP, which is massive,” says Remy Salters, a credit analyst at Standard & Poor’s. “It’s not often around the world that you find fiscal deficits of that size.” Salters estimates that Ghana spent $2.2 billion last year on importing oil – the country consumes 60,000 barrels a day – and President Mills will no doubt be eager to erase that expense. He will want to add the income that oil will bring (an estimated $20 billion from Jubilee alone by 2030) as he seeks to meet the government’s promise of whittling the deficit to 3 per cent in four years. In the rush to get oil pumping, Ghana’s government may be under pressure to overlook questions that its own civil society groups would like to have answered. One of the big ones is the fate of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) which owns a small stake in the Jubilee Field and regulates the oil industry, a dual responsibility that some believe is a conflict of interest. That points to the larger fact that because Ghana has never had any oil to export, its regulatory framework is fairly weak. Gold mining in Ghana has ignited tensions between the government and indigenous groups who argue that they do not profit. Regular Ghanaians may not see the financial windfall they are hoping oil will bring. Almost all of Ghana’s oil is far offshore, meaning that jobs will be limited to highly qualified workers in the oil sector. The industries that would spring up to support those workers will also be limited. The American branch of Oxfam recently issued a report, Ghana’s Big Test, which urged the country to stop issuing licences until it can make sure oil benefits all the country. “There is precedence for countries to try to pace the growth of the sector so that their institutional and legal framework can catch up,” it said. 

AFP/Getty Images

Financial windfall

Oil fields 1. Jubilee 2. Tweneboa

Accra 2


SUMMER 2009 27


Old man of the desert The Welwitschia mirabilis survives in the harsh climate of the Angolan desert and can live for up to 2,000 years. Igor Cusack reports âž”



SUMMER 2009 29


The plant looks like an ugly mess of leaves. In fact, the welwitschia has only 30 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

two leaves, but they became split and tattered at the extremities as the centuries passed by. The welwitschia is endemic only in the south of Angola and in Namibia, growing mainly in dry watercourses and gravel plains. It is a dioecious species, meaning that it has separate male and female plants. The females are recognised by their larger cones, which bear the seeds. The males have smaller and more numerous cones. It is thought that only when it reaches a century old is the welwitschia ready to reproduce. The leaves are greenish-grey, tough and woody and are arranged in flowing rolls around a central point, enabling the plant to effectively conserve water. It is thought that the plants are able to extract moisture from the thick fogs, generated by the cold Benguela current out in the ocean, which envelop this coastal region.

Eaten by bugs The seeds germinate during the infrequent rains and those seedlings that survive rapidly grow a great taproot which pushes down into the desert sands. Various insects have been recorded on the female plant – among others the tan cotton stainer (Odontopus sexpunctatis), a yellow-orange and black bug which feeds on seeds in developing cones of the welwitschia, and the orange-coloured assassin bug. If you cannot manage a visit to the Namibe region of Angola, a good place to see this plant is at the Berlin-Dahlem Botanical Gardens in Germany which are well-known for the successful cultivation of welwitschia from seed to flower. The gardens have seeds originating from Angola, provided by the Botanic Garden in Coimbra, Portugal, and others from Namibia. By looking at the growing plants, the Swiss botanist Dr Beat Ernst Leuenberger, who is a senior curator at Berlin-Dahlem, was able to describe two subspecies of the plant, differentiated on the basis of male cone characters. Angolans are very proud of the wonderful plant, and in many ways welwitschia could be considered the national plant of Angola, just as the shamrock

Š 1995-2009 Missouri Botanical Garden


hen the Austrian naturalist Dr Frederic Welwitsch was on a botanical expedition near Cabo Negro in Angola in 1859, he spotted a most peculiar looking plant inhabiting an elevated sandy plateau. The same plant was also found 500 miles to the south in Namibia the following year by the British explorer and artist Thomas Baines. The locals called the plant Tumboa or Tumbo and so the plant was for a while called Tumboa bainesii, but the accepted name has come to be Welwitschia mirabilis. The welwitschia is a fascinating plant. By measuring the speed of growth of its giant leaves, and by carbon dating, it has been estimated that it can live for more than 500 years – with some estimates extending to 2,000 years. Not only does this plant live for many centuries, but it appears to be the only living example of a group of plants which have survived on Earth for many millions of years. Fossils of their ancient relatives some 112 to 114 million years old have been found in the rocks of the Araripe Basin of northern Brazil. Before the Atlantic opened up, as the continents drifted apart, this area would have been close to where the modern day welwitschia grows in Angola.

is in Ireland or the thistle in Scotland. Welwitschia, being such a sturdy, long-living plant of ancient origins, makes an excellent national cultural emblem. Children are taught about the plant at school. The Angolan novelist Ondjaki writes in his novel Os da Minha Rua about a young boy, Ndalu, who when visiting the Namibe desert with his parents declares that 

New Leaf: Curtis’s Botanical Magazine in 1863 carried these first illustrations of the recently discovered plant


Angolans are very proud of the wonderful plant, and in many ways welwitschia could be considered the national plant of Angola, just as the shamrock is in Ireland or the thistle in Scotland SUMMER 2009 31


Kamene M Traça

Sparkling symbol: The plant has given its name to a brand of tonic water and has featured on Angolan stamps

“ostriches run very quickly there … and the famous Welwitschia mirabilis, [is] the most beautiful plant of all the deserts of the world”. September 3 is commemorated as Welwitschia Mirabilis Day, marking the supposed date on which Dr Welwitsch first found the plant.

Stamp of approval In 1959, during the colonial period, a fine set of Angolan postage stamps showing welwitschia was issued on the centenary of its discovery. Since then, at regular intervals, Angola has portrayed the plant on its stamps. For example, in 1991 some stamps marking the African Year of Tourism include one showing a lovely group of welwitschia plants growing in a very red desert. Another set, this time celebrating the African Basketball Championship in 1999, shows a most peculiar stamp with a welwitschia holding a basketball in the air! If welwitschia is the national plant of Angola, Namibia also makes a claim. It has included it on its national crest and encourages tourists to see it in its national parks. A fine ten-shilling colonial stamp from 1931 shows a strangely well-preserved plant. In Angola, various attempts have been 32 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

made to associate different commercial products with welwitschia’s fame and longevity. In May 2006, the Portuguese company Wayfield, which in recent years has been promoting drinks in Angola, launched a tonic water called Welwitschia. In December 2007, a brand of sports equipment also called Welwitschia was launched in Luanda by the Angolan businessman António Justino. What happened to Dr Welwitsch after his great discovery? Local myths and folktales tell of the poor doctor having been eaten by the plant or perhaps he was bitten by a snake lurking in the giant leaves. What we do know is that he came to England and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, West London, where he is listed among other famous scientists. He gave his name to the marvellous plant thought of by some as ugly and by others as beautiful, but certainly an amazing and wonderful symbol for any nation.  Dr Igor Cusack is Visiting Lecturer in the Department of Portuguese Studies at the University of Birmingham and would like to thank all those on the H-Luso-Africa list who provided him with material for this article


SUMMER 2009 33


G-force Louise Redvers meets Paul G, an Angolan singer with an international outlook


I am the only Angolan represented at the Koras, so it’s good to be there for my country

Musically there is a rush too, he says. “We grew up very, very fast in terms of music here, from traditional music to mixing it with the new types of sounds. I’m talking about mixing kuduro with semba and then zouk. “When SSP started out, we were in a war situation, under fire and that type of thing, and people looked at us as crazy guys. But now they are really starting to understand the role of the musician in our culture. People used to look at us as dreamers, but now they recognise what we are doing.”

Top spot People are definitely recognising Paul G. Freaking Me Out, the signature track from Transition, enjoyed a spell at the top spot of Africa’s MTV Base video charts, and Paul has been nominated in the category for best artist from Southern Africa in the Kora Awards, which will be announced in December. “Yes, it’s been a good year,” he says. “I am the only Angolan represented at the Koras, so it’s good to be there for my country.” Paul grew up in Alvalade in central Luanda, but lived for four years in Brazil with his father and is now based in Maryland in America. “I decided to move to the States to take it to a whole new level, singing in English, just to let the people know that there is a country called Angola – that we exist and we’re here.” I ask Paul how Angolans reacted to his decision to sing in English. “Well, in the beginning I was kinda afraid because, you know, people have been hearing me 

Kamene M Traça


aul G is arguably Angola’s biggest pop star. Toned and trim and dressed in the latest designer gear, he certainly looks the part. When he arrives for our interview on the Marginal in his Toyota Land Cruiser, the excited car parking boys shout his name in recognition. It is a busy time for this 33-year-old: he has been nominated for a Kora Award, the African equivalent of the Grammy Awards; he is working with former Fugees member Wyclef Jean; he has his debut album Transition to promote and his own company to run; and he also heads a project for street kids. Paul now lives mostly in the United States, but we meet while he is back home seeing his family for a holiday during an African concert tour. “It’s always good to be back among the people who love you, especially when you spend quite a while out of the country,” he says. “And in this little time in Angola I can see some improvements – it’s really overwhelming.” Paul started out as a member of Angolan hip-hop posse SSP but then moved to the US to work on a solo career. His music is slickly produced R&B sung in English that would not be out of place on the dance floors of Europe or America. The singer is passionate about how Angola is developing post-conflict and how the music scene is also evolving. “You know, for a country that was in a civil war for over 30 years it’s really running quite fast. Other countries would not be able to do what we’re doing. You can see that people are in a rush to grow and the government is trying to keep up with that.”

SUMMER 2009 35


creating new sounds, so it’s been amazing for me.” But it is not all bling and big names for Paul. While back in Angola, he has been busy with his production company Magic Fingaz, which is signing up-and-coming Angolan stars. He has also been working on Dança Futura, his project with street children in Luanda. The idea, he explains, is to give young people, many of whom were orphaned by the civil war, a chance to get some education and learn new skills. “It’s about trying to get these kids off the streets because, if they stay there, they are going to get into bad ways.”

King of sound: Wyclef Jean, ex-Fugees, is working with Paul G

AP/PA Photos

Tough reality

singing in Portuguese which is my language, but they received it very well. They all keep telling me that I’ve got to put our flag over there, and I am just starting to take this as a responsibility.” Paul explains that he is trying to make a uniquely Angolan R&B sound and does not want to copy American artists. The idea is R&B with Angolan vibes. “If people listen to my album, they will definitely understand that I am African and that I am trying to make a new sound.” He cites his main inspiration as the neo-soul R&B singer Maxwell: “He’s got that type of vibe and I like it,” and further back, Michael Jackson – “He’s one of the original, you’ve got to go with that,” he adds. 36 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

Last December at the Fullblast Festival in Luanda, Paul met Wyclef Jean, the acclaimed multimillion-record-selling music star. “Someone played my CD to Wyclef and he told people it could be a bomb in the States,” says Paul. “Then I was in my studio at home trying to come up with some new ideas when, all of a sudden, he phoned me and said: ‘You’ve got to come down here. I’ve heard your tracks; we’ve got to do something…’ “So just now we’ve been working on a track here in Luanda. We are mixing kuduro with R&B and his vibes, and you know Wyclef is all open wide and into new stuff. It’s quite a big experience for me because he is the top producer. He is the king of

I ask Paul what it is like to come from his comfortable lifestyle in America to the sometimes tough reality of Luanda where poverty stares you in the face at every street corner. “It’s difficult. You come here from the States and you see that the people and the country are struggling and it hurts. “You tell yourself it is because of the war, but you have to get up and go to work because if you just sit down and blame this on the war you’re not going to get anywhere. You’re just going to stay in the same place, just blaming, blaming, blaming. You have to stand up, grab the keys and do your thing.” Although Paul’s parents separated when he was younger, he says his family support has been invaluable. “My mother always backed me up, my stepfather too. They always told me: ‘Whatever you do, make sure you just do good things. We don’t


We are mixing kuduro with R&B and his vibes, and you know Wyclef is all open wide and into new stuff care what you want to become, a doctor or a singer, just do good things.’ “Even when we were at war back in 1992, my mother used to tell me the same thing: ‘We’re looking at you like the key to our dreams. You can do whatever you want...’ Now, whenever I do anything, I am proud to think that I am actually supporting my family because that’s exactly what I have been doing. It’s just beautiful.” Paul says he cannot always make it home as much as he would like but he made sure he was in Luanda in September 2008 for the landmark election, the first to be held in Angola for 16 years. “I came home to vote,” he tells me. “It was good because I was contributing to

something that will change our country forever. It gave me a sense of responsibility, and that sort of sense of helping and pushing the country to another level is exactly why I decided to come and play my part.” While we are chatting, a few curious hotel guests wander over to stare. He smiles at them but is unfazed and keeps on talking. What is it like being recognised all the time, I ask. “It’s good,” he says. “Actually, here in Angola people look at me like a way to their dreams. There was this kid who told me exactly that: ‘You for me are like a dream come true,’ he said. ‘I am looking at you and I want to be having what you’re having...’” All this chat about Angola and we have

hardly had a chance to discuss Paul’s music. I ask him about Transition, which he describes as an album of “love stories” and “love experiences” and “love experiences that go bad”. Paul has split from his wife Bruna Tatiana, herself a successful Angolan kizomba singer and 2003 Big Brother Africa contestant. We meet as Paul is nearing the end of his African tour which includes stops in Namibia, Kenya and Nigeria, as well as most provinces of Angola. He says he is happy to be home to spend some time with his family at their new home in the Nova Vida housing complex in Luanda Sul. He also tells me he is hoping to open a restaurant outside Luanda near the slavery museum. “I have the land and I want to make it like a resort where people can go and chill out and enjoy some live music,” he says. Paul G is thinking big – both in and out of the studio. 

Real name

Paulo Jorge Marques João



Home life

Grew up in Alvalade, Luanda. Spent four years in Brazil; now based in Maryland in the US, but with a family home in Nova Vida, Luanda Sul


At 16 became a professional skateboarder in Brazil before coming back to Luanda and joining SSP


With SSP: 99% of Love, Odisseia, Alfa and The best of SSP. Solo: Transition


Nominated for Kora Award for best artist in Southern Africa

Favourite food


Favourite place in Angola


Ideal Saturday morning

Waking up late, going to the gym and then hitting the studio

Love life

Was married to Angolan singer and Big Brother Africa contestant Bruna Tatiana, but now says “I don’t have time in my life right now, I’m too busy…”

Kamene M Traça

Paul G

SUMMER 2009 37

Sonangol news briefing


alfway through Angola’s year-long presidency of Opec,

Sonangol has been active both internationally and domestically. The company is involved in investing with Portuguese banks, as chief executive Manuel Vicente said in his annual address to the press, and is also continuing with major infrastructure projects at home. AFP/Getty Images

One of these projects is the refinery in Lobito, which Universo. The $8 billion refinery is needed so that Angola can be self-sufficient in refined petroleum products. The refinery project is being led by Anabela Fonseca, the first woman on Sonangol’s administration board.

Target man Angolan Oil Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos conducted his first meeting as president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) in March when oil prices were continuing to hover between $40 and $50 a barrel, putting pressure on the industry at home and abroad. At the meeting, held at Opec HQ in

José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos, Angola’s Oil Minister and current Opec head, chaired his first meeting of the oil-producing nations’ club in which it was agreed that the countries should keep to their quotas in the hope that the price of a barrel of oil increases from its current low price. 38 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

Island treasure Sonangol is close to signing a deal with São Tomé and Príncipe to help start pumping oil from the coast of the tiny African island. Its Prime Minister Joaquim Rafael Branco met Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos in Luanda in February. A key exporter of cocoa, São Tomé and Príncipe recently discovered enormous oil reserves in the Gulf of Guinea and had been looking for a partner to tap into these reserves.

Vienna, the members agreed to keep existing output targets in an attempt to placate producing countries, but also in the hope that the lower production rates might stabilise prices. Vasconcelos told journalists afterwards: “The trend in oil prices is positive and we hope that it continues until we reach $70 to $75 per barrel.”


we feature in this issue of


Gulf ambition

Flood aid International oil companies have been helping the tens of thousands of people affected by heavy rain and flooding in the south of Angola. Total donated 30 tons of items including 500 blankets, 500 mosquito nets, 250 tents, food products and water-cleansing kits. Exxon Mobil also made a donation of $75,000 to help the government support affected families. The flooding, which began in February, has claimed more than 25 lives and destroyed around 150,000 hectares of farmland. Cunene and Kuando Kubango are the worst-hit provinces.

On your marks Sonangol celebrated its 33rd anniversary in February with a fun run for staff and families through the centre of Luanda. Administration board president Manuel Vicente used the day to officially open Sonangol’s new central laboratory based at Sonils (Sonangol Integrated Logistic Services). The lab features state-ofthe-art equipment and technology and carries out the testing work for products at Luanda’s refinery.

Strategic bank Sonangol and Portugal’s state-run bank Caixa Geral de Depósitos (CGD) have set up a new bank to finance infrastructure projects in Angola. The agreement to create Banco de Fomento e Desenvolvimento de Angola (BFDA) was signed when Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos visited Lisbon in March. Although he had visited the former colonial power before, this was the first state visit of the Angolan leader to Portugal. Sonangol and CGD both pledged to invest $500 million in the bank to finance projects in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors. The bank, with headquarters in Luanda and a branch in Lisbon, is set to start working in the second half of 2009. Sonangol will appoint the chief executive for the first three years. President dos Santos described the creation of the bank as “an important instrument from the creation of partnerships between the state institutions of Angola and Portugal.” Portuguese prime minister José Sócrates, pictured with dos Santos, said:

REUTERS/Hugo Correia

The seventh annual Deep Water Angola Summit attracted hundreds of people to the Talatona Convention Centre in Luanda. The theme of the conference was sustainability in deepwater development. Organised by EnergyWise, the event featured stands from major oil and service companies and various seminars and presentations. Oil Minister José Maria Botelho de Vasconcelos and Adão Gaspar Pereira do Nascimento, Secretary of State for Higher Education, took part. Among those presenting were Schlumberger, StatoilHydro, Acergy and Maersk Oil. The theme of the next summit in December is “harnessing deepwater potential for Angola’s future.”

Deep blue

Sonangol is among international oil companies which have qualified to take part in a second round of bidding for oil and gas contracts in Iraq. According to Associated Press, the Iraqi Oil Ministry said nine firms had been selected from the 38 who showed interest. The companies chosen include Russia’s two state-owned Rosneft and Tatneft; the UK’s Cairn Energy; Japan Oil, Gas and Metals; Oil India; Kazakhstan’s stateowned KazMunaiGas; PetroVietnam; Sonangol; and Pakistan Petroleum. Iraq holds the world’s third-largest known oil reserves of at least 115 billion barrels.

“If there is a step which helps build a strategic partnership between Portugal and Angola, that step is the creation of this bank which will finance and provide a boost to the strategic economic co-operation.” Portugal also doubled its credit line for exports to Angola to €1 billion and launched a new €500 million commercial line to help Portuguese companies finance infrastructure projects in Angola.

SUMMER 2009 39

Kamene M Traรงa

Manuel Vicente: positive outlook



Full steam ahead Sonangol is expecting a productive year, despite the global financial crisis and the low price of oil, said chief executive Manuel Vicente at his annual press conference. was around $2.9 billion. Compared to 2007, this was an increase in sales of 53 per cent; earnings before interest and tax increased by 36 per cent and our profit increased by 30 per cent. In terms of financial performance, there are two important indicators worth mentioning. One is profitability over own capital, rated at 27 per cent, while the profitability of invested capital is rated at 33 per cent. It is important to highlight this amount so that we can clear some opinions that have been voiced about Sonangol’s investment overseas. In terms of delivery, in 2007 we paid dividends of $210 million to the state. Sonangol is a state-owned company; the state is the sole shareholder and, in the framework of profit-sharing, this was the share owed to the state. We paid taxes of $2.2 billion. Concessionary revenues were about $20 billion. We still have challenges to fulfill. Some of these are short term, like moulding Sonangol P&P and Sonagås with the view of increasing efficiency in the production of oil and gas, consolidating and expanding the refining business, expanding the derivative distribution network, increasing

the storage capacity and starting our intervention in the petrochemical business. 

Courtesy of Tullow Oil

Manuel Vicente: During 2008 we managed to reach the level of producing 2 million barrels per day [bpd], which had been projected for a long time. Sonangol consolidated its own production of 200,000 bpd, and at this moment it has operations of about 65,000 bpd. We consolidated our entry into the refining business, in line with our vision to transform ourselves into an integrated and competitive company. We started the preliminary works of the Lobito refinery announced last year and the construction of the liquefied natural gas plant in Soyo. We continued to implement the master plan of our fuel retail network, as well as the expansion plan for fuel storage. We maintained our commitment to valuing our workforce through specific training and capacitybuilding programmes. Last year, we also increased the statutory capital of the company, which today is pegged at 500 billion kwanzas ($6.6 billion). The accounting is not totally closed or audited yet, but the following figures give an idea. In terms of main results, we had sales of $26.6 billion. Our earnings before interest and tax were $4.8 billion. Our profit

SUMMER 2009 41


What do you think about the current price of oil and do you believe it will return to $75 a barrel, the level the Oil Minister has said is most suitable for producers and consumers? Manuel Vicente: I have been asked about oil prices, and we’ve been joking that it is the business of fortune-tellers. Nobody can tell when the price will be $75 or $80 a barrel. As an oil company we would like to have prices that cover our expenses and give a comfortable profit margin. Today’s price, $40 to $42 a barrel, requires some care because many investments were projected with oil at a higher price. It is consensus that a price of around $75 a barrel would be comfortable for the industry to work without bumps. When we will get there remains an unknown. There have been two production cuts by Opec and a barrel of oil is still priced around $40. Pumping up the action

Is there an impact with the price of oil so low? There is definitely an impact. It is one thing to produce 50,000 barrels at $147 a barrel and it is another to produce 50,000 at $42 a barrel. Companies had their own projections and they were forced to reduce them. This does impact their accounting. There are some ongoing actions that are being implemented with the objective to soothe these effects and fundamentally they have turned to the domestic market. What Angola is trying to do – and this is within our strategy plan – is to increase the internal financing capacity.

Will the current global financial crisis have any impact on Sonangol’s activities? At the present prices, at least where the Angolan oil industry is concerned, we have no slowdown on planned investments. We

hope that prices will improve but there are no bumps so far. Therefore, all development plans that were programmed are under way. Those areas that were to start production continue working at a speedy rhythm. We’ll also keep our fingers crossed that prices improve. There are ongoing investments and these investments will continue. As to the challenges that I listed: in the refining area, in the expansion of the fuel distribution network and in the expansion of stock, these investments will not slow down. On the contrary, they will be increased.

Is Sonangol still planning to enter the Angolan stock exchange which was scheduled to open this year? There is a crisis and we are reconsidering our plans in terms of whether Sonangol will enter the stock market. At this moment, nobody is exempt from this crisis and the markets currently are random and unsafe. We’ve seen giants falling like paper cards. Would you invest in a stock market right now? I’m convinced that in the face of this crisis in the world, the bodies organising the bourse in Angola are rethinking this matter. Markets are very unstable. I think there should be some prudence at a time like this, but I’m not saying that the bourse will never be open.

Why were there no bidding rounds this year? We did not carry out any bidding rounds because of the political calendar. We are waiting for the calendar for this year to be defined so that we can resume the process. In an industry like ours, a government at the end of its mandate cannot issue concessions. This was the reason why we asked the government to postpone the bids.

Is there any regret about joining Opec in the light of the production cuts which have been imposed? Boston

The decision to join Opec was taken by the state, and we as state entities have to oblige. It is easy to question joining Opec now that prices are at $40 a barrel. I think these questions should have been raised when the price was $147 a barrel. In times of crisis it is no use to seek the culprit. Let’s try 42 SONANGOL UNIVERSO


There will not be an economy and a consolidated society in Angola if the minority can’t take part in it

” Kamene M Traça

Manuel Vicente, Sonangol chief executive

instead to find a solution to the problem.

There are often long queues at petrol stations here – is there a shortage of fuel in the country? There is no scarcity of fuel but there is a shortage of petrol stations. Last year we said that there were fewer and fewer reselling points in the urban perimeter, and this will continue as the urban perimeter evolves. The petrol station at the point of the Marginal will close and the pumps next to Rádio Nacional de Angola, behind the education ministry, will go. We have been facing difficulties in replacing these outlets. Fortunately, last year good work was done with the Luanda provincial government and there is a vast construction programme of reselling points on the outskirts of Luanda. We live on fuel imports, and growing demand has meant that the present refinery could not cope. The refinery is now undergoing an extension and a slight modernisation so that we can stop import-

ing fuel. All these efforts will take time, but there is enough fuel to sustain economic activities. We need to increase and improve the sales service and increase significantly the stocking capacity throughout the country to serve our customers.

Can you tell us about Sonangol’s investments in Portugal? In Portugal, Sonangol has investments in Galp and in Millennium BCP, and recently we signed a contract with Caixa Geral de Depósitos here in Angola for the restructuring of Totta Angola. Within a few days we will announce another investment in the banking sector, which is the government’s investment but Sonangol will be a subscriber (see page 39). Our investment in Millennium is not speculative – it is long term. In the same way that the Portuguese have investments in Angola, it is necessary that Angolan enterprise initiatives have investments in Portugal. I’m talking about banking and real estate – our investments

are also venturing into real estate – and we will need to have our own office in Portugal.

Are you planning a subsidiary of Sonangol in Portugal? No. The investments made in Portugal are financial participations. The only action body we have there is an agency for the management of our interests, precisely in the information area.

How can more Angolans benefit from Angola’s natural resources? The idea we have is to create conditions so that more and more Angolan citizens can play a part in the economy. Angolan enterprise initiatives should be in the main sectors of national activity. Most of us were not born rich. But there will not be an economy and a consolidated society in Angola if the minority can’t take part in it. Until now we’ve seen things leaning towards foreign intervention. It’s necessary that little by little this trend be reversed.  SUMMER 2009 43


Refine time Work has begun on a refinery in Lobito – an $8 billion project that will make Angola self-sufficient in diesel and petrol.


ngola currently imports about 60 per cent of its transport and heating fuels– a frustrating irony considering the country’s vast offshore oil reserves. Angola needs to import significant clean products because the country has only one refinery, in Luanda, which cannot satisfy national demand. Now, however, Sonangol is building a second one. It is hoped that the new refinery in Lobito will eventually eliminate the need to import refined petroleum products such as diesel, petrol and paraffin.


A 200-hectare site near the port of Lobito has been chosen for the new refinery. Preliminary work has begun, including the clearance of landmines and the installation of fencing around the perimeter. The refinery will be linked directly to the port, where a new marine off-loading facility is being developed to facilitate the delivery of the building materials. When the project is finished, tankers will bring crude oil from offshore platforms and floating production, storage and off-loading vessels (FPSOs) to crude 


SUMMER 2009 45



Landmines have been cleared and construction work begun

transfer stations. Refined products will in turn be piped to the existing Sonangol liquid-product terminals just south of the new marine facilities, ready for local distribution. New roads are being built to the refinery as well as a train line which will eventually link Lobito, in the southern half of Angola, with Zambia to ensure good connections with the refinery. The processing plant is being built by Sonangol Sonaref and is headed by Anabela Fonseca, the first and only woman on Sonangol’s board. “The refinery has been a long time in the gestation, but now I can say things are really starting to happen and the second refinery is becoming a reality for Angola,” she says. The idea for a second facility was first suggested in the 1990s when Total was running the Luanda refinery. “There was a feeling that Sonangol wanted its own 46 SONANGOL UNIVERSO

refinery,” says Fonseca. “We were exporting all this raw crude but not the finished product, and we had to import refined oil for our own use. It didn’t make sense.”

Process problems The Luanda refinery is not able to process the heavier bottom residues that would normally be turned into useful products, and instead they have to be sold off at a low price. Oil drilled off Angola is typically heavy and/or acidic and needs substantial processing to maximise the production of high-value clean products. Because of its age and position on the edge of a congested city, the Luanda refinery suffers from a number of problems which cannot be quickly or easily remedied. The new Lobito plant will be able to process Angolan crude with a much higher degree of efficiency and in a more

controlled environment. It will be able to produce gasoil and coke as well as diesel and petrol. When the idea of a second refinery was first floated, Sonangol looked for a project partner. There was substantial interest from many companies, including supermajors already present in Angola such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil. But despite this interest and a large of number of studies and assessments carried out, the years passed and no partnership was formed. In 2006, Sonangol began negotiations with Chinese state oil company Sinopec but after a year of negotiations this also failed to bear fruit and Sonangol decided to go ahead alone. In late 2008, Houston-based KBR, which had previously been working alongside Sonangol as technical advisor for the project, was awarded the front-end engineering and design (FEED) contract. The refinery will be built in two stages. The first phase is expected to be completed by 2011 and the final phase, which includes the deep conversion coke and hydro-cracking units, will come in 2013. Site work for the new construction has already begun. A parking area is being built, temporary housing put up for construction workers and heavy-haul roads are being installed from Lobito to the site and from 

Anabela Fonseca Head of Sonaref. She lives in Luanda with her husband Carlos Fernando Fonseca, director of Sonils (Sonangol Integrated Logistic Services), and three children aged 11, 17 and 20 1961 Born in Huambo, raised in Kuito 1979 Studied chemical engineering at Agostinho Neto University, Luanda 1982 First job at Ministry of Petroleum in the archives department, then in the refining section 1996 Joined Sonangol 2005 Appointed vice president and member of Sonangol board

“I am the first woman on Sonangol’s board which was a big honour. Although the industry itself can be male-dominated, I think Sonangol is doing very well to have more women in management positions”

SUMMER 2009 47

48 SONANGOL UNIVERSO Photolibrary Photolibrary



“ ”

By the time the Luanda refinery is upgraded and the Lobito refinery is running, Angola will not need to import oil products Anabela Fonseca, head of Sonaref

there to the port. The refinery will get its water supply from the nearby Catumbela River which runs through the Benguela province to the Atlantic and the plan is to use some of the by-products from the processing, such as the coke, to power the plant. As part of the planning process, Sonangol has commissioned an environmental, social and health impact assessment (ESHIA). The ESHIA will also look at how the refinery will fit in with the local communities and businesses. “Lobito is a small city with just a few thousand people living there,” says Fonseca. “The new refinery will definitely change Lobito, but I also think it is a good opportunity for it to grow because of all the investment. We have already begun studies on the environmental impact and the worries and questions that people have are

being taken care of. We are working under the rules of the World Bank in this respect.”

Creating jobs She believes that the refinery will be a pull for people to move back from Luanda. “You can’t just tell people who crowded into Luanda during the war years to go back home to the provinces. But if you create jobs, housing, schools, hospitals and cinemas, etc, you will not need to tell them to return to the provinces– they will.” Sonangol estimates that as many as 8,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created during the construction period and the refinery, when up and running, will employ around 800 people. Not all the jobs created, of course, will be for Angolans. International expertise will be needed to construct, set up and initially help to run the refinery to the highest standards. At the

start of the operation, the venture is expected to be managed by an 85 per cent Angolan workforce, but it is hoped this will rise to 100 per cent within ten years. The projected cost of the refinery has doubled in the last few years from $4 billion to $8 billion, partly because of an increase in the prices of materials and building and construction services. Fonseca says Sonangol also has plans to upgrade the Luanda refinery, which it has owned outright since 2008, so that it too can process the heavy residues. She says the Lobito and Luanda refineries will work in partnership and the plan is to first supply the domestic market with high-quality products, and then look to export: “By the time the Luanda refinery is upgraded and the Lobito refinery is running, Angola will not need to import oil products,” she says. 

From the bottom of the ocean to the petrol tank of your car


Sonaref Strauss


➔ ➔ ➔ ➔ ➔ ➔

Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) Gasoline Kerosene Diesel Fuel-Grade Diesel Coke

Crude oil entering the refinery is separated into light and heavy components by their specific boiling ranges. The oil is then treated to remove contaminants, such as sulphur and nitrogen. Some of the heavier oils are “cracked” into lighter ones. The various outputs are stored and then blended into the final products ready for shipment.

SUMMER 2009 49





Undergoing work Derelict

Zaire Uíge

Bengo Caxito

Kwanza Norte


Lunda Norte

Luanda Malanje


Lunda Sul

Kwanza Sul Porto Amboim






Lobito Benguela
















Namibe Chiange

Kuando Kubango

Cunene Oshikango




ngola has four railway lines that run across the country from east to west. All of them suffered severe damage during the civil war, and today only parts of three of them are working. Reconstruction and maintenance work, however, is under way and in the coming years more than 1,000km of track should come into use. The development of railways is especially important to the agriculture industry, which is currently unable to benefit from proper access to national and international markets because of the poor infrastructure. Angola is also considering establishing international rail links to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in the north, Zambia in the west and Namibia in the south. The northern line would run through Bengo, Uíge, Zaire and Cabinda into Congo, linking up with the Pointe Noire-Brazzaville line of Chemin de Fer Congo-Océan. High-level talks have also taken place with Namibia about a route that would run from Oshikango on the border with Namibia to Chamutete, south of the NamibeMenongue line. In addition, there are plans by the Zambian government to extend the Zambia railways line across its NorthWestern Province and link it to Angola’s Benguela railway line in order to access the port of Lobito on the Atlantic Ocean.

Benguela line train

Benguela railway The British began construction of this railway in 1903 after the discovery of copper reserves in Zambia and what is today known as the DRC. The Benguela line was intended to serve as a transport route for minerals across Angola to Lobito, and once linked up with the central African rail system that served the mining regions of the DRC and Zambia. Current services start in Lobito, run along the short coastal strip to Benguela and then go inland as far as Cubal. The only other section in operation is the 20km stretch from Huambo to Caála. There are plans to renovate the whole line from Lobito to Luau. However, the present renovation work is only taking place between Munhango and Luau. This is because of the problems of landmines in the other areas. The Angolan government is investing $1.8 billion for repairs and the building of 16 stations between Munhango and Luau, a distance of 408km. The China Railway 20 Bureau Group Corporation is in charge of the project and it is hoped that when the work is finished in 2011, the line will transport more than 100 tonnes of freight a day. Luanda railway The service from the Angolan capital Luanda to Malanje stopped in 2001 because of the war and severe flooding. Today, services run from Luanda to Viana, a suburb in the east, and to Dondo, located 180km further to the east. The reconstruction project

in Malanje province, implemented by Chinese company Mectec, is now in its final stages. A new station is due to be unveiled, along with renovated trains which will serve the line. The renovation of 112km of track linking Malanje with Kwanza Norte is now complete. Two trains will serve this route carrying goods and an average of 1,000 travellers a day. The overall renovation project between Luanda and the northern Malanje province has a budget of about $90 million and is being hailed as a major logistical asset in the economic development of the rural Malanje region. Moçâmedes railway Current services run from Namibe to Matala via Lubango. Renovation work includes the opening of a new train station in Menongue, which is due to be completed in October. Fifty new stations along the line from Namibe to Menongue will be constructed. The full renovation programme begun in 2006 is due to be completed in 2010. Once completed, three trains are scheduled to serve this route. The renovation of the Namibe-Menongue route has been welcomed as an essential boost for the economic and social development of the wider region. The isolation of the rural Kuando Kubango, located approximately 900km from the nearest port, has been a major obstacle to current development initiatives. The line from Lubango to Chiange has been abandoned since 2005, and there are no plans to renovate it. Amboim railway This small line is derelict and there are no current proposals for its restoration. Words by Nina Hobson Illustrations by David Atkinson

Luanda line train SUMMER 2009 51