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Vol 45 No 2

Published 23rd January 2004


Black gold flows

If the powerful can get their hands on oil money, why bother about reform?

Economic prospects are booming in post-war Angola but only for those in the oil industry and the tiny minority who get oil money. Three big new oil-fields will be producing by the end of 2004. Output should double to two million barrels per day (bpd) by 2008-9, putting Angola in the same league as Nigeria but with less than 10 per cent of its population. Yet the government of President José Eduardo dos Santos is failing to use this income productively and there are recurrent allegations of state theft and grand corruption by the regime's senior officials. A new report by New York-based Human Rights Watch (1) accuses it of presiding over the 'disappearance' of over US$4 billion of state oil revenue in 1997-2002. Dos Santos' office issued an angry denial and produced new figures to justify its position. According to International Monetary Fund sources, the new figures make the situation worse as they contradict previous discussions between government and Fund.

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