Is SA business missing Angola's boat?

Posted On Monday, 08 December 2003 02:00 Published by eProp Commercial Property News
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Relations between SA and Angola remain tepid, despite a history of solidarity

South African ambassador to Angola

International Affairs Editor

A War of words between Angola and SA over visas, business opportunities, and providing finance is poisoning relations between the two countries, with little substantial political co-operation between them.

As a fellow member of the Southern African Development Community and a staunch African National Congress supporter during the liberation struggle, Angola should have close ties with SA.

But Angola has far closer relations with Brazil, Portugal, Namibia and the US which takes most of its oil output.

Part of the reason for the distant relations is that Angola, along with Zimbabwe and Namibia, intervened militarily in the Democratic Republic of Congo to prop up the government of Laurent Kabila in 1999.

SA leaned more toward Rwanda and Uganda, which supported the rebels.

With the settlement in the Congo , relations have improved , but at the political level there is hardly warmth.

Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma visited Luanda in 2000 and SA has sent humanitarian aid to Angola to assist with the resettlement of refugees in the aftermath of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi's assassination and the cease-fire agreement.

Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos has yet to reciprocate the 1998 state visit of president Nelson Mandela to his country, although there has been a long-standing invitation for him to do so.

A joint commission, which brings the countries together, has only met once . Over the past three years, though, South African exports to Angola have nearly tripled . Thousands of Angolans, many financed by their government, come to SA every year for medical treatment.

But poor political relations could be restricting the growth in business between the countries. Angola complains that South African government agencies are not providing credit like Brazil and Portugal, and that South African visa procedures are unnecessarily burdensome.

Angola's ambassador to SA, Isaac Maria dos Anjos, says his country's well-heeled shoppers are increasingly travelling to Dubai rather than Sandton. Angolans pay a $400 deposit with the South African embassy in Luanda to get a visa.

The South African ambassador to Angola, Tony Msimanga, says Angolans overstay their visit to SA regularly and the $400 deposit is forfeited and used to pay for a return airfare.

However, SA is not overly restrictive in this matter, he says, issuing more than 40000 visas to Angolans last year.

He accuses the Angolans of being restrictive in issuing visas, saying they are expensive .

Dos Anjos says South African companies tend to think of Angola as a "natural market", because of its proximity. But he warns that South Africans may suffer if more financing is not forthcoming.

Portugal and Brazil are providing far greater financing, he says, and are not deterred by the absence of an agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

South African banks are extending financing to Angola's state-owned oil company to help finance its stake in oil drilling operations.

The Industrial Development Corporation has a financing facility for the expansion of port infrastructure. It is also looking at financing a hotel and a telecommunications project in Angola.

A former , Roger



Ballard-Tremeer, who now heads the South African-Angolan chamber of commerce, says SA's financing institutions have been slow to seize on opportunities, but that is changing fast.

But the overriding problem in relations with Angola is the cultural divide between English and Portuguese speakers., Ballard-Tremeer says.


Last modified on Wednesday, 16 April 2014 19:17

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