A growing number of countries are competing for access to Angola’s natural resources. After the war large numbers have likely been lifted out of the most acute poverty, yet the majority of Angolans do not benefit from the economic growth. Too much of the revenue from the natural resources has been captured by the politico-economical elite.

Human rights activists have raised ethical questions regarding the investment policies of foreign companies in countries which are facing democratic challenges. Maneuvering Norwegian relations to Angola is a difficult balance given the lack of accountability in Angolan government institutions.

-Still, if we aim to contribute to changes in Angola, cutting the ties would not necessarily be a wise decision. Clearly, through our presence in the country, we can improve competence and safety standards in oil operations and regulation. However, we should also use this opportunity more broadly and contribute to reduce poverty, raise awareness of human rights and support the demand for accountability in governance and politics, says Tina Søreide, senior researcher at the Chr. Michelsen Institute.

Second biggest business partner
The Norwegian Minister of Trade and Industry, Trond Giske, and Minister of Environment and International Development, Erik Solheim, are currently on an official visit to the Norwegian Embassy in Luanda, the Angolan capital. The ministers are accompanied by a number of representatives from Norwegian companies and institutions.

-The Norwegian Embassy in Luanda focuses on business relations. This gives important testimony to the priorities of Norwegian-Angolan relations, says Ivar Kolstad, research director at the Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI).

According to Kolstad, Angola is Statoil’s second biggest source of oil. Norwegian revenue from investments by Norwegian companies in Angola is estimated to be higher than the total bilateral government-to-government development assistance to the African continent.

Supports independent research
There is still too little independent, critical research on governance in Angola. Since 2008, a joint effort between Centro de Estudos e Investigação Científica (CEIC) at the Universidade Católica de Angola and the CMI, has been conducting research on economic, social and political development. Søreide and Kolstad are staff members of the Angola-project at CMI. The project aims to contribute to improve the situation for Angola’s poor and to a more equitable society through better utilisation of the country’s natural resources.

-The Norwegian government has close relations to the Angolan government, and finances the CEIC-CMI collaboration. CEIC is very important in order to develop research competence and a place for independent assessment of governance practices in Angola, says Tina Søreide.

Slow development
One of Angola’s most prominent challenges is the weakly developed civil society. Capacity building is an important feature of the CEIC-CMI project. It aims to facilitate professional and institutional capacity development, and dissemination of the research results is prioritised. Research could pave the way for political, social and economic change. But is the political elite ready for changes in Angolan society?

In March and September this year, students gathered in the streets of Luanda, protesting against the political regime. The student activists were imprisoned, and the trials were closed for the public.

-The harsh reactions to the demonstrations do not promise well, says Kolstad.

Publications

CMI Report | 2011

Reforms of the Angolan budget process and public financial management: Was the crisis a wakeup call?

This report deals with Angola’s budget process – in the wide sense – in the period between 2008 and 2010. Three concepts - transparency, accountability and efficiency - are used as...
Søren Kirk Jensen, Francisco Miguel Paulo (2011)
Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (CMI Report R 2011:7) 111 p.
Journal Article | 2012

If diversification is good, why don't countries diversify more? The political economy of diversification in resource- rich countries

For resource-rich countries, diversification is claimed to represent a strategy for reducing resource curse problems. This, however, depends on whether diversification has a positive effect on the country’s institutions. While...
Arne Wiig and Ivar Kolstad (2012)
in Energy Policy vol. 40 no. 1 pp. 196-203
Angola Brief | 2011

Angola party politics: Into the African trend

Angolan politics is usually explained with reference to the country’s long and devastating civil war. The postponed elections, the domination of the presidency and the ruling party, and the election...
Inge Amundsen (2011)
Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (Angola Brief vol. 1 no. 9) 4 p.
Conference Paper / Presentation | 2011

Assessing the importance of human and social capital for poor entrepreneurs in Angola

Ivar Kolstad and Arne Wiig (2011)
Presented at: 33. nasjonale Forskermøtet for økonomer, Norges Handelshøyskole, 6 Januar 2011
Book Chapter | 2012

Assigned corporate social responsibility in a rentier state: The case of Angola

What responsibilities do oil companies in Angola have to improve the situation of the Angolan population? Standard corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects have little effect where the rents from natural...
Arne Wiig and Ivar Kolstad (2012)
in Päivi Lujala and Siri Aas Rustad : High-value natural resources and post-conflict peacebuilding . Oxford: Earthscan pp. 147-154
Journal Article | 2011

Better the devil you know? Chinese foreign direct investment in Africa

What are the dominant motives behind China’s increasing financial presence in Africa in recent years? In this article, the authors present new quantitative evidence on Chinese outward foreign direct investment...
Ivar Kolstad and Arne Wiig (2011)
in Journal of African Business vol. 12 no. 1 pp. 31-50
CMI Brief | 2011

China and Angola - Strategic partnership or marriage of convenience?

In 2004 Angola’s Ministry of Finance and China’s Ministry of Trade signedthe first of several financing packages for public investment projects inAngola. These packages provided for oil-backed concessional loans fromChinese...
Lucy Corkin (2011)
Bergen: Chr. Michelsen Institute (Angola Brief vol. 1 no. 1) 4 p.

Ivar Kolstad

Associated Senior Researcher

Aslak Jangård Orre

Senior Researcher, Coordinator Governance

Projects