Luanda, Angola one of the fastest developing cities in Africa

mali Luanda’s harbor front in the evening

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.

Booming Economy

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.

Luanda's oil service center Angola is one of Africa’s leading exporters of oil

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.

Overcoming Obstacles

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.

Pierre Falcone at KilambaPierre Falcone, President of Pierson Capital, at the site of the Kilamba development

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.

Infrastructure Development Necessary in the Maghreb

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March 14, 2013 – Two years and two months ago, the people of the Maghreb showed that they had had enough of the socio-economic conditions that were crippling the region. It began in Tunisia with their revolution, then spread like wildfire, igniting revolutions driven by hope of a secure political and economic landscape that would bring them out of the mess that their governments had created. Just over two years later, Tunisia is no longer at war, but the political and economic landscape is far from stable because nothing concrete has been done to ameliorate the collective situation of its people.

While the Tunisian politicians debate which party will have the most power, governmental structure, and whether or not they will officially be Islamic, the people who fought the revolution are being made to wait. Since the politicians are preoccupied creating the structure, it is up to the private sector to create the body that will occupy it when it is ready. Public works projects should be the first step in bringing Tunisia, and its revolutionary counterparts across the region, back to stability. It will supply jobs for civilians of all socio-economic situations, while providing immense benefits to the people and easing unrest.

“Preparing to welcome 200,000 people within three years, Kilamba has become one of the largest development projects in Africa…”

Since the economic situation in these areas is perilous, they may need to call upon foreign investors to aid them in accomplishing these projects. Pierre Falcone and Pierson Capital, an investment firm based in Chicago, funded the trans-maghreb highway in 2010. They have also taken the lead in the creation of an entire city called Kilamba outside of the capital of Luanda. By following this example of foreign direct investment, it will be much easier for these (and any recovering or developing country) to jumpstart their economies, and in politically charged areas like the Maghreb, appease the masses calling for progress. After two years of turmoil, if the population continues being denied any concrete progress, the government is liable to fall once more in favor of the chance that a new regime could provide it.

Although it may be up to private companies to take up the mantle, the governments of the Maghreb have significant pull over such corporations, as they have the ability to write policies that would make it more advantageous to build in their country than in others. If businesses see that building in North Africa is a good investment with favorable policies towards foreign investors, they are infinitely more likely to choose it as the location of their next project but it is up to the governments to choose the right path that will take their country out of the muck and towards a prosperous future.