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Oil-rich Angola’s incumbent ruling party is claiming victory in yesterday’s critical elections to replace President Jose Eduardo dos Santos after nearly four decades of rule.
With five million votes counted by early today, but official results still not released by the election commission, the ruling MPLA party is claiming victory, with incumbent Defense Minister João Lourenço expected to take over for dos Santos.
Election officials said the vote took place without major incident, despite some counterclaims by the opposition UNITA party.
Handpicked by Dos Santos, who took power in 1979, Lourenço was widely expected to win the election, and the Dos Santos family is expected to maintain their control over many of the biggest companies in Angola, including the state-held oil firm Sonangol.
Dos Santos’ daughter Isabel dos Santos—worth an estimated US$3.2 billion and said to be Africa’s richest woman—controls Sonangol.
The new Angolan president will have to tackle the economic downturn, which Angola has been suffering since the oil price crash in 2014. Oil production and its supporting activities account for around 45 percent of the Angola’s GDP and represent 95 percent of its exports.
Earlier this year the IMF said that Angola needed further policy actions to continue adjusting its economy “to the ‘new normal’ in the oil market and to return growth to a level consistent with poverty reduction.”
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The new Angolan leader will also have to attract more foreign investments in Angola’s oil sector. According to Alex Vines, head of the Africa Programme, Chatham House, and a senior lecturer at Coventry University, if no new projects are sanctioned in Angola, crude oil output in Africa’s second-largest producer will plateau by 2019, and after that plunge by an average of 11 percent until the next election in 2022.
Right now, there are 8 active rigs in Angola, compared to some 25 back in 2014, Vines writes in Newsweek.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.