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Angola: Oil & Housing

AfricaFocus Bulletin
Aug 10, 2009 (090810)
(Reposted from sources cited below)

Editor's Note

"Government revenues from oil and gas are set to rise strongly, giving [the top ten oil-exporting countries in Africa] the means to speed up economic and social development and alleviate poverty. The government take in the top ten oil- and gas-producing countries is projected to rise from some $80 billion in 2006 to about $250 billion in 2030. Nigeria and Angola account for 86% of the $4.1 trillion cumulative revenues of all ten countries over 2006-2030." - World Energy Outlook 2008

With Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visits to Angola on August 9-10 and to Nigeria later this week, the spotlight is on U.S. geo-strategic interest in Africa's oil and potential rivalries with China in access to the oil. But the dominant theme of oil industry developments is likely to be collaboration, as illustrated by the $1.3 billion deal announced in July, in which the U.S. oil company Marathon sold a 20% stake in offshore Block 32 to Chinese companies Sinopec and CNOOC. Marathon retains a 10% stake. Block 32 is operated by Total SA of France, which owns a 30% stake and acts as the operator. Sonangol E.P., Angola's state-owned oil company owns 20%, while Exxon Mobil Corp. holds 15% and Galp Energia, a Portuguese company, 5%.

For Angolans, as for others in oil-producing countries, the primary concern is less how the oil is shared among oil companies, including Angola's own Sonangol, than how the revenues are spent. Angola is now booming with construction, and its GDP grew by an average of 16% a year between 2006 and 2008. But the gap between national revenue and conditions for the majority of Angolans remains enormous. In housing, for example, the Angolan government has announced plans to build one million houses over four years, but estimates of those lacking proper housing in the capital alone range from three to five million people.

New housing projects such as Copacabana Residencial, a 720- apartment complex valued at $100 million announced last week, contrast with forced evictions of slum dwellers, with 15,000 displaced in the latest incident in late July,

This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains three selected documents relevant to the complex nexus of oil with political economy and governance in Angola. One is an overview of oil & gas revenues in African countries from the OECD World Energy Outlook 2008, contrasting rising exports with the continued energy needs within the oil-exporting countries. Two are on the issue of housing rights and forced evictions.

A supplemental AfricaFocus Bulletin today, on the web but not sent out by e-mail, contains excerpts from a recent analytical report by David Sogge ( report explores the historical roots and the current prospects of Angola's contradictions, including the complex intersection of national and international political economies of oil and governance systems.

Sogge explores not only the present and near-term prospects linked to expanding oil revenues, but also the likelihood of a medium-term decline in oil revenues. That decline, he notes, may begin as soon as 2015, posing new challenges for the collaborative arrangements between international capital and local elites and new opportunities to raise questions about democratic accountability and more inclusive development.

For previous AfricaFocus Bulletins on Angola, see

For additional background data on oil in Angola, see, the summary of a third quarter Companies and Markets report at, and a recent article in Forbes magazine (, available at

A just-released 75-page Chatham House report, "Thirst for African Oil: Asian National Oil Companies in Nigeria and Angola," asserts that Neither Nigeria nor Angola fits into the stereotype of weak African states being ruthlessly exploited by resource-hungry Asian tigers. Angola, however, has managed its relationship with Asian companies much better than has Nigeria. See

Also of particular interest, with respect to the use of oil revenues is a 2008 report from the Open Budget Initiative. Angola ranks close to the bottom in international comparisons on the Open Budget Index, with a 3% score on ratings of 91 questions about budget transparency. See In comparison, the United Kingdom, with 88% and South Africa with 87% rank at the top. Botswana scores 62%, Kenya 57%, and Nigeria 19%.

++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++

World Energy Outlook 2008 Fact Sheet: Sub-Saharan Africa

Could revenues in oil- and gas-rich sub-Saharan African countries alleviate energy poverty?

[Note: The full chapter 15 of the 2008 World Energy Outlook, on this subject, is available at]

Oil and gas exports in the top-ten producing sub-Saharan African countries are set to grow steadily to 2030, providing the means for alleviating poverty and expanding energy access. In the Reference Scenario, in which no change in government policies is assumed, their oil exports rise from 5.1 mb/d in aggregate in 2007 to 6.4 mb/d in 2030. Gas exports, largely as liquefied natural gas (LNG), increase from 21.6 bcm in 2006 to 130 bcm in 2030. These projections hinge on a reduction in gas flaring, adequate investment and avoidance of disruption to supplies through civil unrest. The ten countries flared 40 bcm in 2005 almost three times the entire region's gas consumption. These countries could make direct use of their gas resources by using currently flared gas for power generation or distributing it in cities. The liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) extracted from natural gas or produced in refineries can provide a low-cost source of supply for distribution networks.

Less than a third of households in the majority of oil- and gas-rich countries have access to electricity or to clean fuels for cooking, like LPG, kerosene, biogas and ethanol gelfuel. About 150 000 people, mainly women and children, die prematurely each year in these countries because of indoor air pollution from burning traditional fuels essentially fuelwood and charcoal for cooking in inefficient stoves or open fires. In the absence of new policy initiatives, the number of people living without electricity and relying on fuelwood and charcoal for cooking rises over the Outlook period, as the population grows.

Government revenues from oil and gas are set to rise strongly, giving these countries the means to speed up economic and social development and alleviate poverty. The government take in the top ten oil- and gas-producing countries is projected to rise from some $80 billion in 2006 to about $250 billion in 2030. Nigeria and Angola account for 86% of the $4.1 trillion cumulative revenues of all ten countries over 2006-2030. All these countries desperately need sustained and sustainable economic development. Modern energy services are a crucial prerequisite, bringing major benefits to public health, social welfare and economic productivity. In most of the countries, improving energy access will entail fundamental political, institutional and legislative reform, as well as efforts to strengthen the capability of regional and local authorities to implement programmes and to expand access to credit.

The upfront cost of expanding access to modern energy is small relative to the wealth that these countries' hydrocarbon resources will generate. An estimated $18 billion is needed to achieve universal access to electricity and to LPG cooking stoves and cylinders a mere 0.4% of the projected cumulative government revenues from oil and gas export revenues in 2007-2030. The cost relative to the government take in Equatorial Guinea, Angola and Gabon is only 0.1%.

Sub-Saharan Africa's hydrocarbon-resource wealth will lead to economic development only if governments manage wisely and honestly the development of the sector and the revenues that accrue. An improvement in the efficiency and transparency of revenue allocation and the accountability of governments in the use of public funds would improve the likelihood that oil and gas revenues are actually used to alleviate poverty generally and energy poverty specifically.

Angola: 3,000 Houses demolished, thousands evicted.

SOS Habitat - Acção Solidária

Press Release, July 27, 2009

Lu¡s Araújo, Director of SOS Habitat
+244 912 507 343

The Angolan Government has forcibly evicted thousands of families in the outskirts of Luanda

  • In the last four days approximately three thousand houses have been demolished and the same estimated number of Angolan families has been forcibly evicted in the (commonly called) Bagdad neighbourhood, in the Sector 5 of M'Bonde Chap‚u, in the Kilamba Kiaxi municipality of Luanda.
  • The victims of the forced evictions have informed SOS Habitat activists and a delegation of FpD, UNITA and POC politicians who visited them yesterday, 26/07/09, that they were verbally warned by the authorities who carried out the demolitions that today, Monday 27/07/09, any people who had stayed in their wrecked houses would be removed.
  • Considering that the average Angolan family unit consists of five to eight people, SOS Habitat estimates that the demolitions have evicted a minimum of approximately fifteen thousand people from their homes.
  • According to the current Angolan population "age pyramid", the majority of the victims of this human rights violation are children and adolescents under the age of fifteen.
  • After the demolitions, the victims of the forced evictions were not properly rehoused pursuant to the norms that guarantee the respect for housing-related human rights.
  • This forced eviction operation was carried out with the help of a great apparatus of military and police forces. SOS Habitat activists were not able to enter the neighbourhood while the demolitions were taking place, due to the great military and police apparatus surrounding the area during the operation.
  • Initially, before it became one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the outskirts of Luanda, the land where the forcibly evicted families lived belonged to farmers who harvested it. This land has not been lawfully expropriated.
  • Today, some of the victims of the government forced eviction operation have claimed before SOS Habitat activists to have bought the land from farmers.
  • On the other hand, local farmers who have been receiving support from SOS Habitat for several years now, claim that their land was initially invaded in broad day light by people supported by self-described MPLA party structures.
  • We have tried to identify and contact the "Residents' Committees" and/or other relevant structures but, according to the demolition victims present in the site today, the members of the residents' organizations have "disappeared".
  • Today, many of the victimized families were rescuing what is left of their belongings and possessions from the demolished houses.
  • In the next few days we will divulge more complete and detailed information on this (yet another) human rights violation carried out by the Government of Angola.


  1. SOS Habitat appeals to the Government of Angola to cease this kind of human rights violation immediately, eliminating once and for all the practice of forced evictions that are not preceded by a process of land expropriation pursuant to the law and by the dignified rehousing of those affected by the house demolitions.
  2. SOS Habitat appeals to the representatives of the Angolan government partner countries present in Angola and the representatives of international institutions such as the UN and the European Commission Delegation, whose partnerships with Angola are rooted on the government's respect for human rights, to visit this (yet another) forcibly evicted community.
  3. We also appeal that this visit is carried out in the company of activists from SOS Habitat and other Angolan civil society organizations, who have been fighting for housing-related human rights.
  4. SOS Habitat appeals to all who come in contact with this press release, in particular all national and international human rights organizations, to broadly disseminate this document.

Letter from Human Rights Groups to UN-Habitat

6 October 2008

Amnesty International, International Secretariat London, United Kingdom

Ms Anna Tibaijuka
Executive Director UN-Habitat
PO. Box 30030, GPO Nairobi 001000 Kenya

6 October 2008

Dear Ms Tibaijuka,

Amnesty International, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Habitat International Coalition and Human Rights Watch regret UN-Habitat's choice of Luanda, Angola to lead global celebrations for World Habitat Day, known popularly as World Housing and Land Rights Day. This year's commemoration, on 6 October, is organized under the theme of "harmonious cities." Over the last seven years, our organizations have documented the forced eviction of over 30,000 people[1] in Luanda. Rather than build a "harmonious city" that addresses acute needs for decent shelter and the human right to adequate housing, the government of Angola instead has carried out mass forced evictions, prioritized urban development projects, including the construction of luxury housing and "beautification" projects at the expense of tens of thousands of people, living in poverty. UN-Habitat has chosen to visit Angola when the Angolan government still fails to provide the necessary cooperation in order to enable the UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing to visit the country.

[1 Amnesty International has documented the evictions of 10,000 families from 2001 to 2007, for details see Angola: Lives in Ruins - Forced Evictions Continue and Angola: Mass Forced Evictions in Luanda - A Call for a Human Rights Based Housing Policy as well as other documents on See also the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions Global Surveys 9 and 10 Forced Evictions: Violations of Human Rights which include details of forced evictions in Luanda from 2001 to 2006. The Habitat International Coalition has recorded evictions of 37,874 people in the last seven years, in addition to the estimated 91,000 still displaced from the civil war. For details see HLRN Violation Database, at: . Human Rights Watch and SOS Habitat have highlighted the evictions of between 20,000 - 30,000 people from 2002 - 2006, for details see "They Pushed Down the Houses": Forced Evictions and Insecure Land Tenure for Luanda's Urban Poor on ]

Families who have been forcibly evicted have had their homes destroyed by the Angolan government, without prior notification, information or consultation, without legal protection and without adequate alternative accommodation or an effective remedy. Many of the forced evictions have been accompanied by excessive use of force by police officers, members of the Angolan armed forces and members of private security companies. Other human rights violations committed in the context of forced evictions include arbitrary arrests and detentions, torture and ill-treatment, and harassment of human rights defenders who were present during the evictions. Many of the forced evictions have been carried out to enable urban development projects, including the construction of luxury housing developments. Most have left those who were evicted, who were already living in poverty and who already suffered displacement because of the civil war, in worse conditions or homeless.

These violations remain widespread, according to documented reports from various sources, and violate a range of human rights, including the right to adequate housing, the right no to be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with their privacy, family or home, the right not to be subjected to torture or other ill-treatment. These rights are protected by international human rights treaties to which Angola is a State party including the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (African Charter) which it ratified on 9 October 1990, the two International Covenants, the ICESCR and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to which Angola acceded on 10 January 1992, and other international human rights treaties and standards

As a state party to the Covenant, Angola is required to respect, protect and fulfil the human right to adequate housing within its territory, as provided in Article 11 of the Covenant and clarified in General Comments Nos. 4 and 7 of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. That treaty- monitoring body has specifically asked the Government of Angola to respond to questions about the practice of forced eviction and problems related to the lack of security of tenure in the country in the context of its November 2008 review of Angola's treaty compliance.[2]

[ 2 List of issues to be taken up in connection with the consideration of the combined initial and second and third periodic report of Angola, consisting of the treaty-specific document on the rights covered by articles 1 to 15 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (E/C.12/AGO/3) and the common core document (HRI/CORE/AGO/2008), E/C.12/AGO/Q/3, 28 May 2008, paras 26- 27. ]

It is estimated that over 75 per cent of Luanda's population of over four million people live in informal settlements. Most of the population does not have formal title to their homes and the lands on which they are built, and live without security of tenure, leaving them vulnerable to forced evictions. Many live in overcrowded and inadequate housing conditions, without access to basic services including clean drinking water and sanitation. People living in informal settlements in Luanda pay private water suppliers as much as 15 to 20 times more for water than those living in parts of the city which receive piped and treated water. Some civil society organizations and aid agencies have criticized the Angolan government for its failure to prioritize primary healthcare, potable water, sanitation facilities and adequate housing, despite the growth in its resources and revenues.

The UN Human Settlements Programme, UN-Habitat has said that the celebrations in Luanda are an attempt to show the world “how the country, after years of conflict, is progressing in the establishment of harmonious cities through urban development, poverty alleviation, improved land and housing rights, and providing access to basic urban services. We recognize the efforts of some members of Angola's government to promote more open participation and decentralized governance, as well as steps to promote the recognition of the right to adequate housing through the enactment of land and housing laws and a housing project to provide social housing for youths in the country. However, such good practices do not seem to have taken hold, nor do they seem to enjoy sufficient support among Angola's policy makers.

The laws that have been enacted do not provide adequate protection from forced evictions and fail to incorporate many of the procedural protections and due process guarantees required under international law. Although a small number of victims of forced evictions carried out in the last seven years have received some compensation and others have reportedly been promised compensation, many are still waiting for effective remedies, including adequate reparation and alternative housing. There have also been reports of increased efforts to negotiate compensation with communities but consultations in some cases have also been reported to be ad-hoc, arbitrary, and not based on sound, human rights-based policy, transparent procedures and genuine consultation with all communities that have been or will be potentially affected by forced evictions.

A number of people, including those who have faced repeated forced evictions (especially in the Cambamba 1 and Cambamba 2 neighbourhoods in the Kilamba Kiaxi municipality, and Cidadania in the Viana municipality) are still homeless. Those who were relocated by the government were often not consulted about their relocation sites that were, in many instances, quite far from their places of employment and with insufficient access to transportation, health services and education. Cases that were filed by victims of forced eviction in Soba Kapassa have still not been heard by the courts, though five years have passed since the human rights violations first occurred.

Amnesty International, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Habitat International Coalition and Human Rights Watch agree with UN-Habitat that "a society cannot claim to be harmonious if large sections of its population are deprived of basic needs while other sections live in opulence." We call upon the government of Angola to live up to the description that it is making progress toward the achievement of harmonious cities by stopping and preventing forced evictions, which have been described by the UN Commission on Human Rights as a gross violation of human rights.

In line with its obligations under international human rights treaties, the government should adopt laws and policies, in accordance with international law, to prohibit and prevent forced evictions. It should also guarantee at least the minimum degree of security of tenure that it is obligated to ensure under international law, to all sections of its population. We welcome the government's commitment to "build 1 million new homes over the next five years."[3] In accordance with its obligations under international law, the government of Angola should prioritize the most vulnerable in these new and other housing programs. It also should ensure the availability of adequate housing, water, sanitation, health services and education to people living in informal settlements on a non-discriminatory basis. The government of Angola must also take immediate steps to provide assistance to all victims of forced evictions and ensure their right to an effective remedy and to reparations, including compensation, rehabilitation, restitution, satisfaction and guarantee of non-repetition. It must promptly and independently investigate allegations of excessive use of force and other human rights violations by the police, other officials and private actors and ensure accountability for such violations. The government of Angola should also finally enable the UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing to visit the country, to make it possible for her to examine the situation of housing rights in the country.

[ 3 Angola Press Agency, 26 August 2008. ]

Unless and until the government of Angola takes these requisite steps to address the widely reported violations of the right to adequate housing and other human rights in the context of widespread forced evictions, it is inappropriate to raise Angola as an example and focus of World Habitat Day/World Housing and Land Rights Day. By so doing, both the government of Angola and UN-Habitat add insult to the injury committed against Angola's thousands affected by forced evictions.

The theme of this year World Habitat Day was chosen "to raise awareness about the problems of rapid urbanization, its impact on the environment, the growth of slums, and the urbanisation of poverty as more and more people teem into towns and cities looking for a better life." Amnesty International, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions, Habitat International Coalition and Human Rights Watch recommend that UN-Habitat to pro-actively consult with victims and local human rights organizations that have assisted them and promote redress and remedy for those affected with the view of ensuring that their concerns are heard and acted upon.

In particular, the organizations call on UN-Habitat to use the occasion of World Habitat Day in Luanda to urge the government of Angola to comply with its obligations under international law, take prompt, effective steps to stop and prevent forced evictions. In particular, UN-Habitat should request concrete commitments from Angola that any future evictions will be carried out in strict compliance with international human rights law and in accordance with the Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement.

Erwin Van Der Borght, Africa Programme Director, Amnesty International

Claude Cahn, Head of Advocacy Unit, Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions

Joseph Schechla, Coordinator, Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition

Georgette Gagnon, Executive Director of the Africa Division, Human Rights Watch

The President, Mr. José Eduardo Dos Santos; Minister of Town Planning and Housing, Mr. Diekunpuna Nsadisi Sita José; ViceMinisters, Mrs Carla Leitão Ribeiro de Sousa, Mr. Lu¡s Assunção da Mota Liz; Minister of Planning, Mrs Ana Dias Lourenço; ViceMinister, Mr. Carlos Alberto Lopes; Minister of Territorial Administration, Mr. Virgílio Fontes Pereira; Vice Ministers, Mr. Edeltrudes da Costa, Mr. Graciano Francisco Domingos; Minister of Public Works, Mr. Francisco Higino Carneiro; Vice-Ministers, Mr. Armindo Francisco Kopingo, Mr. José dos Santos da Silva Ferreira; Governor of Luanda, Ms. Francisca do Espírito Santo

AfricaFocus Bulletin is an independent electronic publication providing reposted commentary and analysis on African issues, with a particular focus on U.S. and international policies. AfricaFocus Bulletin is edited by William Minter.

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