Angola eyes more loans from China

Angola could soon secure more loans from China to rebuild infrastructure and diversify its economy away from oil after an almost three-decade long civil war, Angolan Finance Minister Severim de Morais, says.

Last month, the African nation received a US$1 billion loan from China to develop the agricultural sector. Reuters says Angola has received at least US$5 billion in oil-backed loans from Beijing since the end of the war in 2002.

“The negotiations with China are not over yet,” de Morais told Reuters on the sidelines of a conference. Asked whether his country could receive more loans, he replied: “possibly”.

He did not provide details as to the amount or the timing of these loans. (Reporting by Henrique Almeida, editing by Mike Peacock)

Meanwhile, Reuters adds Angola could face social unrest if millions of shanty-town dwellers have no access to proper housing.

President Jose Eduardo dos Santos has vowed to bring down prices in the African nation’s booming real-estate market and his government will tighten regulations to end “unrestrained speculation”.

He repeated a pledge to build one million homes for the poor in the next four years at a cost of US$50 billion.

A shortage of apartments, along with growing demand for housing from local and foreign workers, has turned oil-rich Angola’s property market into one of the world’s most expensive since it emerged from almost three decades of civil war in 2002.

“The real-estate market should be more regulated,” dos Santos told a conference on housing.

“There should also be an increase in the number of homes to satisfy growing demand in all segments of the market, including low-income housing.” He did not provide details on how the property market should be more regulated.

An estimated two-thirds of Angola‘s 16.5 million strong population live in shanty towns, or musseques, without access to running water or electricity.

Property owners claim real estate prices are high because Angola imports almost all its building materials, including cement, through the port of Luanda in ships that are often forced to wait for months to unload their cargo.

Such delays, they say, have helped push the price of a modern, two-bedroom apartment in downtown Luanda to more than US$1 million.

“The logistical problems at the port are getting worse and should keep prices up,” Jose Camargo, the head of real-estate for Brazilian builder Odebrecht, told Reuters recently.

Dos Santos‘ plans to build the homes for the poor should bolster his popularity in the run-up to the country’s first post-war presidential election later this year. In power for 30 years, dos Santos is widely expected to run and win the poll.