News / Africa

Angola's Economic Boom Has Winners and Losers

As Angola is experiencing one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, its capital city, Luanda, is facing a dramatic transformation.  It has become a land of opportunity for some westerners, but for some Angolans, the development of the city has a bitter taste.

The city has become a big construction site.  Everywhere in Luanda, new buildings are rising from the ground, as a ballet of cranes is shaping the new skyline of the capital. Luanda is busy leaving the past behind - burying 27 years of civil war and devastation under mountains of petrodollars.

With an annual growth rate of 11 percent, the second biggest oil producer in Africa is attracting companies and western workers - many fleeing economic crises elsewhere.

Like Sylvia Soares, the young Portuguese architect who has lived in Luanda for two years.  She says she would not have had the same opportunities, had she stayed in Portugal.

"There is no job in Portugal. Not even for the renowned architects, so you can imagine how it is for young architects who have just graduated from university," she said.

Soares says her parents approve of her choice to come work in Angola.

"[My parents] have seen it as a short-period thing to do, because by the time I come back to Portugal, I'll have a better financial situation than if I had stayed in Portugal," she said.

And Luanda is a good place for a young architect, as it transforms itself to meet its ambition of becoming a world-class city.  A few of the changes include the new parliament that is a replica of the American congress and the newly inaugurated waterfront.  

Geographer Chloé Buire says the social composition of the city is also changing.

"There is a whole rescaling of the city actually," Buire said. "And it's not only that there is a special sprawl, like, expansion, but also a whole social reshaping of the central city being emptied of its poorest communities [which] were evicted in the peripheries."

The evictions started in 2010.  To provide the space for a new political center, the government destroyed several slums and neighborhoods.  Thousands of families were relocated - one hour, sometimes two, away from the city center.  

Zango is one of the new neighborhoods where the people were re-settled.

Carolina, who now lives in Zango, remembers the day they came to destroy her house in the city.

"It was a surprise, nobody knew. Suddenly, they came and said that they were going to destroy the houses," she said.  "They brought us in this open space. We had nothing. There was a lot of young kids, and we were getting sick because of the mosquitos."

Carolina says her husband lost his truck-driving job because he now lives too far away. She has to spend $10 and take five different taxis to travel to the city and back every day.

"My life is worse now, because to eat, we have move up and down every day to sell things," she said.

Today, approximately 30 percent of Angolans live in Luanda, and the development of the city - that started even during the war - is expected to continue in the coming years.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More