Angola Seizes Diamonds, Expels Half A Million Migrants

 

Angolan authorities have expelled more than half a million undocumented migrants in the past year as part of an operation to target diamond smuggling, the government said Friday.

Mineral-rich Angola is a major producer of diamonds but the government believes many are bought and sold illegally by foreigners.

“The authorities have repatriated 527,725 illegal immigrants, closed down 96 illegal diamond cooperatives, four mining projects and 289 shops,” said a spokesman for the presidency, Pedro Sebastiao, during a press conference.

Tens of thousands of diamonds have been seized since Angola’s “Operation Transparency” was launched in September 2018.

Angola’s government says the move is meant to regulate the mining industry by tackling illegal mining operations and undocumented migration.

It was launched by President Joao Lourenco, who came to power in 2017 and has been struggling to revive the country’s faltering economy.

Human Rights Watch condemned the operation as “abusive”, saying more than 400,000 people were either forcibly deported or pushed to flee to neighbouring DR Congo in October last year.

The government has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The mandate for Operation Transparency was extended to Angola’s coastline in March to fight “illegal fishing, the smuggling of goods and fuel and drug trafficking,” said Sebastiao.

A total of 356 fishing boats have been seized, he added.

Sub-saharan Africa’s second-largest oil producer was hit hard by a global slump in crude prices in 2014.

Lourenco has so far failed to deliver the economic “miracle” promised during his campaign.

With little economic diversification, the state continues to rely on oil for 70 percent of its revenue.

Nigeria To Boost Bilateral Ties With Angola, Says Foreign Affairs Minister

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama

 

The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Geoffrey Onyeama, says Nigeria will boost bilateral ties with Angola.

Speaking at a meeting with Manuel Augustus, the Angolan Minister of External Relations, Onyeama explained that other partnerships by both countries will be in the areas of peace and security, especially in the Gulf of Guinea.

READ ALSOManufacturers List Poor Electricity, Multiple Taxation As Major Operational Challenges – Survey

“We share the golf of Guinea and this is again an area we will be looking at. The issue of security at the Gulf of Guinea. We will look at other areas of cooperation.

“We have a joint commission which is the framework for bilateral cooperation between our two countries. We obviously need to look at how we will re-ignite which has not met for a number of years,” he stated.

The minister also thanked the Angolan officials and the delegation for the visit to the country.

U17 AFCON: Eaglets Target World Cup Ticket With Victory Against Angola

 

 

Five-time champions Nigeria hopes to make a return to the FIFA U17 World Cup finals with a victory against Angola in their second match at the Africa U17 Cup of Nations in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Wednesday.

A reproachable slack approach saw the Golden Eaglets slump from a 3-1 lead to conceding three goals and falling behind against host nation Tanzania in the tournament opener on Sunday, but they woke from slumber in good time to win with two spectacular goals and pocket three precious points in a 5-4 win.

Angola’s 1-0 win over Uganda hours later has ensured that the winner of the top-of-the-table duel between Nigeria and Angola on Wednesday would have one leg in the semi-finals and automatically in the FIFA U17 World Cup slated for Brazil later this year.

All four semi-finalists at the ongoing championship in Tanzania will represent Africa in Brazil.

READ ALSO: WAFU Cup: Super Falcons to play Mali, Niger, Burkina Faso

Two-goal hero against Tanzania, Wisdom Ubani and Man-of-the-Match Akinkunmi Ayobami Amoo will be the cynosure of all eyes in the Eaglets’ attacking line on Wednesday. Yet, Ibraheem Jabaar, who slammed in the winning goal against the Serengeti Boys minutes after coming on as a substitute, is also capable of making things happen, just as Olakunle Olusegun, Fawaz Abdullahi and Olatomi Olaniyan.

Nigeria won the Africa U17 Cup of Nations in 2001 in Seychelles and in 2007 in Togo and were world champions in 1985 (China), 1993 (Japan), 2007 (Korea Republic), 2013 (UAE) and 2015 (Chile).

Current Head Coach, Manu Garba was also at the head of the technical team that won in the United Arab Emirates six years ago.

The Eaglets failed to even qualify for the continental finals held in Gabon in 2017, losing to the Niger Republic in the final qualifying round. Mali, Ghana, Guinea and the Niger Republic flew Africa’s flag at the last edition of the FIFA U17 World Cup finals, in India.

Mali edged Ghana in an all –African quarter-final, only to lose 1-3 to Spain in the semi-finals and falter 0-2 to Brazil in the match for third place.

The normally strong Malians, who also finished as tournament runners-up to Nigeria in Chile in 2015, are absent from the finals in Tanzania after losing the available WAFU A slots to Senegal and Guinea.

In Wednesday’s other match of Group A, hosts Tanzania will tackle Uganda in a match of two teams still hunting for their first points at the tournament.

Children, Others Die In Stampede After Angolan Football Match

Angola football fans (file)

 

Two children and three adults were killed in a stampede at a weekend football match in the Angolan capital Luanda, sparking an investigation, authorities said Monday.

The crush occurred Saturday as fans were leaving the CAF Champions League quarter-final match between Primeiro Agosto of Angola and TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the sports ministry said.

The incident “caused the death by asphyxiation of five supporters and caused seven injuries at the end of the match,” the ministry said in a statement.

The two children were aged 10 and 12, it said.

One survivor who gave his name only as Nemo, speaking to TV channel Zimbo from his hospital bed, said: “The exit door was very small, many people fell.”

The history of African football is marked by frequent deadly crowd stampedes. In Angola in February 2017, 17 people were killed and 58 injured near the northern town of Uige ahead of a season-opening match for the national championship.

Earlier this month, at least one person was killed and 37 injured in a stampede ahead of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Madagascar’s capital Antananarivo.

And in July last year, eight people were killed when rival supporters clashed during Senegal’s League Cup final, and a stampede caused a wall to fall on escaping fans.

The scramble came after police used tear gas to clear the area surrounding the stadium.

In 2009, 19 people died in the Ivorian economic capital Abidjan after a crush in a qualifying match for the 2010 World Cup between Ivory Coast and Malawi.

AFP

IMF To Begin Talks With Angola On Financial Support

 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) said on Tuesday it would begin talks with Angola over providing financial support after the oil-producing country’s economic growth was weaker than expected this year.

Africa’s second-largest oil producer has been hit by lower oil prices, which have caused a dollar liquidity squeeze that has made it difficult for foreign companies to repatriate profits and discouraged many from investing.

Angola’s Finance Ministry said on Monday it had sought financial support from the IMF but did not provide further detail on how much money was involved.

“We expect to initiate programme discussions with the Angolan authorities as soon as feasible,” Deputy Managing Director of the IMF Tao Zhang said in a statement which confirmed the Fund had received a letter from the Angolan authorities to start talks.

The request came after the IMF was invited to Luanda in October to negotiate the programme, which would last for two years and then be extendable for one more.

“The IMF stands ready to help the authorities address Angola’s economic challenges by supporting their economic policies and reforms based on the government’s macroeconomic stabilisation programme and in the national development plan for 2018–22,” Zhang said.

Angola’s economy has struggled due to lower oil prices, a situation made worse by declining production. The output is expected to fall to 1.5 million barrels per day in 2018, down from 1.6 million last year and 1.9 million a decade ago.

The IMF expects the country’s economy to grow 2.2 per cent this year, well below an original government forecast of 4.9 per cent.

President João Lourenço, who took over last September after 38 years of rule by José Eduardo dos Santos, has said he wants to bring about an economic miracle in Angola by opening up to foreign investment and diversifying away from oil.

Angola Loses First Satellite, Plans Successor

FILE PHOTO A Zenit rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, sitting on its launchpad prior to lift off at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome. Credit: HO / Roscosmos space agency / AFP

 

Angola on Monday confirmed the premature death of its first national telecoms satellite, Angosat-1, which was launched in December and was expected to have a working life of 15 years.

The Russian-made Angosat-1 struggled with repeated setbacks immediately after its launch from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

Contact with the satellite was soon lost and never recovered despite many attempts.

“The satellite remained in orbit from December 26 to 30. After that we had a problem,” Igor Frolov, a representative of manufacturer Energia RSC, said at a press conference in Luanda.

Angolan Telecommunications Minister Jose Carvalho da Rocha immediately announced that the satellite would be replaced by a successor — Angosat-2 — under a new agreement with Russia.

“Building will begin tomorrow at no cost to Angola… it will have more capacity and be more sophisticated than its predecessor,” da Rocha said, adding it would be finished in 18 months.

The Angosat project was founded by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes a control centre in a suburb of the Angolan capital Luanda.

Angosat-1 had been intended to improve satellite communication, internet access and broadcasting of radio and television across Africa.

Angola draws large revenue from its oil reserves but suffers extreme inequality with UNICEF calculating 38 percent of the population live in poverty.

AFP

Buhari Watches Nigeria Beat Angola To Reach CHAN Semis

Buhari Watches Nigeria Beat Angola To Reach CHAN Semis
President Buhari watching home-based Super Eagles’ football match against Angola

 

President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday watched the home-based Super Eagles football match against Angola in the quarter-final of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The Nigerian team qualified for the semi-final of the tournament after battling from a goal down to beat their opponents in Morocco.

Eagles looked on the way out of the tournament until Lobi Stars forward Anthony Okpotu equalised in injury time.

Gabriel Okechukwu completed the comeback for the Nigerians with the winning goal in the 110th minute.

Amidst his tight schedules and back-to-back meetings in Addis Ababa, President Buhari found time to follow watch the football match which ended 2-1 in favour of the Eagles.

He also congratulated the Nigerian team on their victory in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant to on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

“President Buhari who watched the match in his hotel room in Addis Ababa after a long day of meetings which started at 8:00 am and ended at 5:30 pm wishes them the very best for the upcoming matches,” the statement said.

The President is in Ethiopia, where he recently told the audience at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) that corruption was one of the greatest evils the continent was fighting.

Earlier before the football match, Eagles head coach Salisu Yusuf said there was no pressure for his team, but rather motivation to win their quarter-final clash against Angola.

While Yusuf noted that his team understood the mission and would execute it professionally, Coach Srdan Vasiljevic said Angola would approach the game with optimism.

Vasiljevic had also admitted he would be playing his most difficult game at the ongoing African Nations Championship when his side face Nigeria.

2018 CHAN: Nigeria Beat Angola To Qualify For Semi-Finals

2018 CHAN: Nigeria Beat Angola To Qualify For Semi-Finals
File photo

 

Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have qualified for the semi-finals of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The Eagles advanced to the next stage of the tournament on Sunday after battling from a goal down to beat Angola in Morocco.

READ ALSO: Buhari Watches Nigeria Beat Angola To Reach CHAN Semis

Eagles looked on the way out of the tournament until Lobi Stars forward Anthony Okpotu equalised in injury time.

Gabriel Okechukwu completed the comeback for the Nigerians with the winning goal in the 110th minute.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated the Nigerian team on their victory over the Angolans.

The President extended his congratulatory message to the team in a statement signed by his Senior Special Assistant to on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu.

“President Buhari who watched the match in his hotel room in Addis Ababa after a long day of meetings which started at 8:00 am and ended at 5:30 pm wishes them the very best for the upcoming matches,” the statement said.

The President is in Ethiopia, where he recently told the audience at the 30th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union (AU) that corruption was one of the greatest evils the continent was fighting.

Earlier before the football match, Eagles head coach Salisu Yusuf said there was no pressure for his team, but rather motivation to win their quarter-final clash against Angola.

While Yusuf noted that his team understood the mission and would execute it professionally, Coach Srdan Vasiljevic said Angola would approach the game with optimism.

Vasiljevic had also admitted he would be playing his most difficult game at the ongoing African Nations Championship when his side face Nigeria.

Angolan President Denies Tensions With Predecessor Despite Clean-Up Campaign

Angolan President Joao Lourenco gives his first press conference after his election on January 8, 2018, to mark his first 100 days in office at the Presidential Palace in Luanda. AMPE ROGERIO / AFP

 

Angolan President Joao Lourenco on Monday denied “any tension” with his long-serving predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos, many of whose relatives and friends he has sacked from public office in a fight against corruption in the oil-rich southern African nation.

In November, within three months of taking control of Angola, Lourenco sacked dos Santos’s daughter — Africa’s richest woman — as head of the state-run oil company Sonangol. In recent weeks, he has fired a string of other business figures closely associated with his predecessor.

A long-standing pillar of the regime, the new president had promised to distance himself from the dos Santos clan during his successful campaign ahead of the August 23 poll.

Dos Santos, 75, finally quit power in August after ruling the country for 38 years. He is still head of the ruling MPLA party and has publicly deplored his successor’s “radical” decisions.

“I don’t see any tension in our relations,” Lourenco told a press conference marking 100 days in power.

“The president of the party is guided by the statutes of the party and I as president seek to respect and obey the constitution,” he said, adding that he had “normal working relations” with dos Santos.

Before retiring, dos Santos took care to freeze by law the hierarchy of the security forces for several years. But Lourenco replaced the heads of the police and military intelligence anyway.

Angola, along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, pumping out 1.7 million barrels per day. But the oil wealth has bypassed the overwhelming majority of citizens who live in grinding poverty.

Sonangol has ordered a probe into “possible misappropriation” of funds by Isabel dos Santos, and Lourenco on Monday said the sacking was not politically motivated.

“The person who was replaced isn’t a member of the opposition,” he noted.

He also hinted that dos Santos’s son, Jose Filomeno dos Santos, could be axed as the head of the country’s sovereign investment fund.

“I am not saying I’m going to sack him but it is possible that it could happen,” he said.

Lourenco refused comment on dos Santos’ future as head of the MPLA. In 2016, dos Santos pledged to retire from politics in 2018.

“It’s up to him to say if he will do that, if he upholds his promise,” he said.

AFP

Russia Launches Telecoms Satellite For Angola

Russia Launches Telecoms Satellite For Angola
File photo

 

Russia on Tuesday launched a rocket carrying Angosat-1, the first national telecoms satellite for Angola, from its Baikonur space pad, with rare use of a rocket from Ukraine despite collapsed ties between the two nations.

Live footage aired by Roscosmos space corporation showed the spacecraft take off into the night from the freezing launch pad in Kazakhstan. It reached initial orbit shortly after.

The Zenit-2SB rocket carrying Angosat to orbit was supplied by Ukrainian maker Yuzhmash, making the launch a rare joint project between the two countries since 2014 when Moscow annexed Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.

The Angosat project was agreed by Russia and Angola in 2009 and includes the satellite, its launch, and on-ground infrastructure in a suburb of the capital Luanda.

The approximately $280-million project has been financed with a credit from Russia’s state banks.

The satellite is designed for a 15-year mission to boost satellite communications, Internet access, radio and TV service.

Around 50 Angolan aerospace engineers trained around the globe, including in Brazil, China, Japan and Russia, will oversee the functioning of the satellite from a control centre built near Luanda.

The launch was initially scheduled for the summer but had been pushed back several times due to delays.

Russia initially wanted to use its new Angara rocket to launch the satellite but opted for the Zenit rocket instead, which is built by Ukrainian contractor Yuzhmash.

The project went ahead despite space cooperation between Russia and Ukraine suspended following the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict with pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Angola, which along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s top oil producers, but many of its citizens are mired in poverty.

AFP

Fuel Shortage In Oil-Rich Angola Tests New President

Luanda residents queue with their cars at a gas station on December 22, 2017 in Luanda, Angola. Angola has suffered a week of fuel shortages, a bitter irony for one of Africa’s leading oil producers, and a hardship that some people blame on opponents of incumbent President. The majority of petrol stations in the capital Luanda have had long lines of motorists for seven days now, all waiting for the chance to fill up their tanks.
AMPE ROGERIO / AFP

Angola has suffered a week of fuel shortages, a bitter irony for one of Africa’s leading oil producers, and a hardship that some people blame on opponents of President Joao Lourenco.

The majority of petrol stations in the capital Luanda have had long lines of motorists for seven days now, all waiting for the chance to fill up their tanks.

“We don’t have any more,” said Henriques Carvalho, a pump attendant in the Bairro Popular district.

“They came here to refuel but demand has been so great that we sold our last few litres tonight. I’m waiting for the next tanker.”

In front of each pump, lines of trucks and cars stretch out of view.

“I’ve been queueing for two hours,” said Gisela Manuela from behind the wheel of her sedan.

“I’ve already tried three other petrol stations — all in vain. Hopefully it will be better here.”

Several other filling stations in provinces outside Luanda have also run dry, according to residents contacted by AFP.

Rationing has caused the price of fuel to surge on the black market. One litre of super unleaded has more than tripled in Luanda — surging from 160 to 500 kwanzas (0.80 euros to 2.50 euros).

Though the impacts of the shortages are clear for all to see, the reasons are not.

A week ago the state oil company Sonangol acknowledged “delays in processing fuel at the country’s ports because of minor issues around the payment of certain suppliers”.

But in a statement, Sonangol insisted that it was “not short of fuel” and that there was “no reason to be alarmed”.

It promised that the rationing was simply to guarantee supply during the festive year-end period.

Sonangol declined to comment further when contacted by AFP.

– ‘Frankly I can’t understand’ –
Angola, along with Nigeria, is one of Africa’s biggest oil producers, pumping 1.7 million barrels per day.

But because there is no domestic refining capacity, processed petrol and diesel must be imported from abroad.

The drop in the price of oil, the country’s economic lifeblood, since 2014 has plunged the economy and the government’s finances into a crisis from which Angola has struggled to extricate itself.

Sonangol, which makes the largest annual contribution to state coffers, has found itself in particularly dire financial straits.

In March last year Angola was struck by shortages which were again blamed on “delayed payments” to suppliers caused by the weak oil price.

In the absence of another explanation, critics of Angola’s government have made their own allegations about the reasons for the shortages, fired by social media speculation.

“All of this is an attempt to obstruct the government of President Joao Lourenco,” said Agostinho dos Santos, a political analyst with close ties to the opposition.

“The majority of filling stations in Angola belong to or are controlled by the generals who were in the regime of the former president (Jose Eduardo dos Santos) and his daughter Isabel dos Santos. These owners want to avenge the old president.”

Dos Santos quit the presidency following elections in August after 38 years in power, during which time he stood accused of corruptly enriching his friends, families and allies.

Lourenco, from the same party, promised to fight corruption and subsequently began a crackdown on graft and waste.

After taking office he quickly fired a number of leaders at state-run companies as well as several security chiefs who were seen as close to his predecessor.

His main victim was Isabel dos Santos, who was removed from the helm of Sonangol last month.

“This fuel shortage is only a facade,” said Adao Bunga, a rapper and regime critic known as MC Life.

“The immunity and impunity of Dos Santos’s generals has gone and they are angry, which is why they are attacking Dos Santos.”

But drivers, the main victims of the shortages, have begun to lose patience.

“We can’t live without petrol,” said Isaias Soares, a driver from Malanje, about 380 kilometres (240 miles) east of Luanda.

“Frankly I can’t understand how we can have a shortage in a country that produces oil.”

AFP

Daughter Of Angola’s Ex-President Sacked As State Oil Chief

This file photo shows Angolan businesswoman and chief executive of Angolan state oil firm Sonangol Isabel dos Santos. Photo: FERNANDO VELUDO / PUBLICO / AFP

Angolan President Joao Lourenco on Wednesday fired his predecessor’s daughter,  Isabel dos Santos, from her influential post as head of the Sonangol state oil company, the presidency said in a statement.

Her appointment to the oil giant last year was widely criticised as a symbol of the nepotism and corruption that flourished under Dos Santos.

Lourenco swept to power as the ruling party’s candidate in August elections after pledging to clean up Angola’s endemic graft and revive its listless economy.

“Under the powers vested in him by the constitution, the president… has decided to relieve the following directors who make up the board of Sonangol,” said the statement, which named former president Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ daughter, Isabel.

Known derisively as “the princess”, 44-year-old Isabel became the public face of the Dos Santos business empire.

Even through the collapse in the oil price in recent years, crude has remained Angola’s leading revenue source, contributing 70 percent of the country’s income.

Isabel dos Santos described herself as an “entrepreneur” on her Twitter account and the US-based Forbes magazine claims that she is Africa’s richest woman.

Black gold provides 70 percent of Angola’s revenues and almost all of its hard currency, but many of the country’s citizens are mired in poverty.

AFP