From inauspicious beginnings in a post-socialist, highly dysfunctional
financial system, Angolan banking grew in less than a decade after the
end of the country’s long civil war into one of Africa’s largest. Fuelled by
the country’s oil boom, banks became crucial in articulating Angola’s
interactions with the international system as well as a domestic agenda of
oligarchic consolidation by the ruling MPLA’s elite. This article
describes and analyses this growth trajectory in its historical and institutional
context and seeks to understand the reasons why it did not lead to
either a significant expansion of credit outside the elite or a contribution
towards economic diversification outside the oil sector. Important as a
study of the political economy of finance in Africa’s third largest economy,
the article also contributes to the growing literature on the nexus
between banking and politics in resource-rich states.