When Angola gained its colonial independence in 1975, its capital city of Luanda had a population of 400,000. Since then, the city has grown more than tenfold. With a population of more than five million, Luanda is the third-largest portuguese-speaking city in the world (behind only Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo) and is quickly becoming one of the capitals of modern Africa. Thanks to rich natural resources, improving infrastructure, and booming construction, Angola’s capital has become one of the leaders in the advancement of Africa, and an important city on a worldwide scale.
Since the end of the Angolan civil war in 2002, Luanda has enjoyed a period of stability accompanied by remarkable economic expansion. Thanks to it’s exceptional harbor, the city has always been a major exporter of Angola’s natural resources, including rich mineral deposits and the valuable offshore oil fields on the country’s Atlantic coast. Recent investment in these resources by Petroleum companies like Total have only made Angola’s trade more efficient (and lucrative), and given the country one of the world’s fastest-growing GDPs.
The city’s decade of economic growth has been accompanied by dramatic development, with the initiation and completion of numerous large-scale construction projects, including a major highway and an international airport, orchestrated by Brazilian company Obredecht. These projects, largely fueled by foreign investment, give a sense of the city’s truly international profile, as well as showing the confidence of investors in Luanda’s continuing development.
Such dramatic growth, however, does not come without issues. Among the difficulties Luanda faces in its development are poor infrastructure and serious overcrowding, as a city originally built for 400,000 inhabitants now holds ten times that many. It’s an especially positive sign for Luanda’s future, then, that these problems are now being addressed. Thanks to fiscal resources from Angola’s strong economy and a recently expanded role for Luanda’s provincial government, more attention is being given to these issues. Numerous projects are now underway to improve the city’s infrastructure, including the development of an airport, and cleaner tap water.
Furthermore, international businesses like Odebrecht and Pierson Capital group are undertaking large-scale projects that will address the overcrowding. The company’s president, Pierre Falcone, played a major role in securing vital investments is from the China International Trust, and is just one of many high-profile businessmen to invest in the growth of Luanda. Pierson Capital is now overseeing the construction of major housing developments around the city, like Luanda 2 and Kimbala, which by 2015 will have 200,000 inhabitants, 240 businesses and 17 schools.
With such positive development accompanying it’s economic strength, Luanda’s future seems very bright indeed. As the capital of one of Africa’s fastest-growing economies, it’s sure to become one of the Continent’s leading cities and can serve as a model for development across the continent as a whole.