Angolan President Signals Economy Bottoming Out Ahead of Vote

  • Budget to implement ‘concrete measures’ to solve crisis
  • Dos Santos calls for free and transparent elections next year

Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos suggested on Monday that the worst of the economic crisis in Africa’s biggest oil producer may have passed as the country prepares to hold general elections next year.

“The economy is not that bad, it only lost some of the steam because of the current crisis,” Dos Santos said in a state of the nation speech Monday in the capital, Luanda.

Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s biggest economy after Nigeria and South Africa, has been battered as oil prices fell by more than half since 2014 to about $50 a barrel. The commodity accounts for 70 percent of revenue and almost all exports. In July, Dos Santos said his government was generating “barely enough” revenue to pay off its debt.

The drop in oil prices forced Angola to seek out internal and external borrowing, he said.

“But that solution has its limits,” he said, adding that increased borrowing has had an “inevitable impact” on inflation, which quickened to 39.4 percent in September from 38.2 percent in August, and on the kwanza, which has weakened about 20 percent against the dollar this year.

Solve Crisis

Angola’s 2017 budget, which will be submitted to parliament by the end of October, will continue to implement “concrete measures” to solve the current crisis, he said.

The 73-year-old Dos Santos, who has ruled Angola since 1979, called for free and elections next year. While his re-election as head of the ruling MPLA party in August would automatically extend his presidential mandate by five years if the party wins the election, he said in March he would step down from “active politics” in 2018.

“With these new elections new candidates for the highest positions in the country will arise,” said Dos Santos.

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