Angola woos investors with law changes

2011-05-15 15:29

Libon - New legislation on private investment will help Angola attract overseas investors, with a return to growth this year ensuring the economy has left its payment problems behind, the head of the country's investment agency said on Friday.

Oil-exporter Angola announced last August that it owed $6.8bn - twice what was previously estimated - to foreign firms involved in the southern African country's post-war reconstruction.

"Angola cannot face its huge economic challenges on its own. We have to bring in private, foreign capital, so we have just approved new laws which will come into force next week," Aguinaldo Jaime, head of the Anip investment agency told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Lisbon.

He said the new private investment code will provide incentives such as tax breaks, reduced red tape and giving his agency more authority to approve the incentives

The law would also help tap huge interest in investment opportunities in a country where the primary infrastructure was mostly destroyed during a 27-year civil war that ended in 2002, Jaime said.

Angola, which rivals Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil producer and is the world's fifth biggest diamond exporter, had double-digit growth between 2004 and 2008, but has slowed sharply in the last two years due to a slump in oil and diamond prices.

Jaime said that the crisis had depleted the country's foreign reserves and led to the payment problems, but added that a return to growth this year will ensure they are not repeated.

"Fortunately we are overcoming the effects of the crisis and international financial institutions forecast Angola to grow around 6 percent this year," he said.

"This means that Angola will return to the robust growth path it had before the crisis and will honour its commitments," he added.