Efforts to rebuild the country are being hampered by poor roads, railways and ports
Before Angola can begin to build a truly sustainable economy it must first rebuild its transport infrastructure, says João Robles of Lisbon’s F Castelo Branco & Associados, which operates in the country through an association with Luanda-based Vitor Félix Advogados.
‘After 30 years of war and less than a decade’s peace one of the major concerns of the Government remains the rehabilitation of the country’s ports, road and rail networks.’
The issue is a major one for a country that now imports most of its food and other resources, including construction materials. Before the war Angola was virtually self-sufficient, he notes. Even for a country with oil and gas resources on the scale that Angola has, its future prosperity lies in building a more diverse and sustainable economy.
‘It can take a ship longer to unload in Luanda port than to sail there from Portugal. New ports are planned but efforts are also being made to fix the shattered road and rail networ. The emphasis is however on rehabilitating and widening the existing network than building everything new.’
Likewise, the nation’s rail stations are being upgraded while plans also exist for significant investments in new rolling stock. ‘New lines have been built but there has been only limited improvement because of the precarious nature of the existing trains and carriages. Many of the new lines are therefore neither faster nor yet safer than they were before.’
Much of the focus of rebuilding in Angola’s major cities has been in anticipation of the country hosting the African Nations Cup in 2010, he says. Significant effort has been made in rebuilding stadia and the country’s tourism infrastructure – Sheraton, Intercontinental and Hilton are all building hotels in the capital.
‘A recurring issue for many of these projects has though been the significance of delays. Many of the planned hotels may not now be ready in time for the African Nations because of the difficulties in delivering materials to construction sites on time – again the issue comes back to an inability to bring goods through the ports and to move them around the country.’