Building a world of
resilient communities.



Angola's Elusive Oil Riches

Last month, the Angolan government did something startling: it announced that an oil deal signed with ChevronTexaco would bring the country $300 million. The disclosure of a single figure may not seem a triumph of transparency, but in the past Angola — like many other countries — treated its oil revenue as a state secret. Revealing its oil payments is the first of many anticorruption measures that Angola desperately needs.

Angola is the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria. Yet its people are by some measures the world's most miserable. These two facts coexist in part because more than $4 billion in oil receipts have disappeared from Angola's treasury in the last six years, according to the International Monetary Fund. That figure is about equal to the government's total social spending for the same period.

The misuse of oil revenues robs Angolans of more than health care and education. The opportunity to steal millions gives the country's leaders a reason never to risk this privilege by democratizing.

In the last few years, countries around the world have agreed to make reforms to promote accountability in the industries that most easily lend themselves to corruption and mismanagement: oil, gas and mining. Angola has not joined them, despite pressures from citizens' groups, oil companies and the monetary fund.

Desperate for loans, Angola has repeatedly agreed to carry out the reforms required by the I.M.F., then violated its promises. When the oil company BP announced in 2001 that it would publish what it paid Angola, the government threatened to cancel its contracts.

Today there is some hope that Angola will begin to use its oil receipts to benefit its people. The end of a 27-year civil war in 2002 deprived the government of its perennial excuse for not improving wretched living conditions. Once dependent on the Soviet Union and Cuba, Angolan officials are now trying to establish relationships with more countries and world institutions. In addition to announcing the ChevronTexaco figure, Angola also released some reports by an international accounting firm hired to track oil revenue, an I.M.F. requirement.

But it should release all the reports in full, audit its state oil company and disclose all information related to its oil income. The I.M.F. has been admirably firm in insisting on these changes. The United States, a buyer of one-third of Angola's oil, has not. When José Eduardo dos Santos, Angola's president, went to Washington last month, Bush administration officials said disappointingly little in public about the need for more transparency. In December, Washington even deemed Angola eligible for trade preferences, based on a set of criteria that are supposed to include corruption-related policies. That was a mistake. Change will come to countries like Angola only if outsiders are resolute about accountability.

Editorial Notes: ASPO's assessment of Angola is available here:

What do you think? Leave a comment below.

Sign up for regular Resilience bulletins direct to your email.

Take action!  

Find out more about Community Resilience. See our COMMUNITIES page
Start your own projects. See our RESOURCES page.
Help build resilience. DONATE NOW.


This is a community site and the discussion is moderated. The rules in brief: no personal abuse and no climate denial. Complete Guidelines.

"Blood and Oil," North Dakota, and dreams not exactly fulfilled

Last week a new television series set amidst the North Dakota oil boom …

Resilience Roundup - Oct 2

 Shell Exits Arctic as Slump in Oil Prices Forces Industry to Retrench …

Back From the Dead: The Rise of EVs

A decade ago electric cars were a lost cause. The popular 2006 documentary …

US Shale Oil too Expensive, Peaks 1H 2015

According to EIA data, monthly US crude oil production peaked in April 2015 …

Peak Oil Notes - Oct 1

A midweek update. Despite several important developments during the last few …

Low Oil Prices - Why Worry?

The Peak Oil story we have been told is wrong. The collapse in oil …

The Stuff Problem

How much mined material will we need to build a 100-per-cent renewable world?