Building Angola: A Political Economy of Infrastructure Contractors in Post-War Angola
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Journal of Southern African Studies, 49:1, 25-47, DOI: 10.1080/03057070.2023.2192589
Following the end of the civil war in 2002, Angola entered a period of political stability and economic growth that was sustained until the oil-price crisis hit the economy in 2015. During this period a vast reconstruction plan of economic infrastructure was implemented. This process induced a series of changes that shaped the construction industry in the country, especially the rise of Angolan contractors as a by-product of the primarily externally funded reconstruction effort. This article aims to understand the political economy of infrastructure building in Angola’s post-war reconstruction boom and the post-2015 crisis. We focus on the nature and dynamics of the emerging infrastructure market segmentation that led to the coexistence of Angolan, Chinese and other foreign contractors, when a part of oil rents was reinvested in infrastructure development, thereby generating a rapid development of the construction sector and its ancillary economic activities. The article explains the origins of segmentation among infrastructure contractors and the central role of oil-backed finance, particularly from China, during the boom and the crisis. It demonstrates the political imperatives of fast delivery of infrastructure assets for the maintenance of the dominant political settlement and the distribution of organisational power in Angola, which led to the rise of a well-organised element of state-linked Angolan capital in this lucrative sector. These experiences reflect the centrality of market segmentation and state–business relations in the evolution of the infrastructure sector in Angola, and the implications for the rise and consolidation of domestic capitalist interests.
- Journal Article