Angola oil and gas
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On Tuesday, the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group approved a $165 million loan to finance a portion of Angola’s three-year economic diversification support programme intended to restore the country’s macroeconomic stability.

In a statement, the AfDB noted that the Angolan government is implementing reforms to diversify its oil-dependent economy and has adopted measures to improve human and social development to restore fiscal balance after the economy was hit by a global slump in oil prices and repeated droughts.

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The programme aims to prioritise and promote the production and export of non-oil products and to start to substitute imports through diversification. It forms part of the country’s 2018-2022 national development plan.

There are three main components in the plan; advancing fiscal consolidation through improved public financial management and tax reforms; accelerated implementation of the diversification programme; and improving governance in natural resource management and state-owned enterprise reform.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, African Development Bank director at the governance and public financial management department, said the loan will contribute significantly to the government’s stabilisation plan and provide a conducive private sector environment.

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“For the past two years, we have felt that the authorities are quite committed to making changes. Many concrete measures have been taken… We expect that the programme will ultimately impact positively on macroeconomic stability, economic diversification and poverty reduction” Coulibaly said, adding that the country was on track to meet its benchmarks for 2019.

The reforms are expected to improve state-owned enterprises (SOEs) transparency and increase the availability of SOE financial and performance data, which will in turn, improve corporate governance and enhance the performance of SOEs, reducing the need for subsidies, he added.

In approving the loan, Board members called for the monitoring of Angola’s high public debt levels, estimated at about 90% of GDP, and projected to ease to around 60% by the end of the programme period. They praised renewed efforts by the Angolan government to curb public sector corruption and step up good governance which had deteriorated.

A sharp decline in oil prices since 2014 has harmed the economy, and real GDP shrank by 0.2% in 2017 and an estimated 0.7% in 2018 while fiscal revenues declined by more than 50% between 2014 and 2017.  Public debt, largely external, increased from 40.7% of GDP in 2014 to an estimated 80.5% in 2018, raising concerns about its sustainability.