The Power Behind Cabinda’s Power Stations

Why would Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos issue a presidential decree (25/17) in February this year to award an estimated US $200 million r contract for a 100 Megawatt bi-fuel power station in Cabinda to an unknown entity named “Vavita Power S.A.”? It’s a sweet deal: as spelled out in that presidential decree, it is a renewable 25- year arrangement accompanied by purchase guarantees, thanks to an Energy Acquisition Contract (Contrato de Aquisição de Energia, CAE) that obliges future governments to buy whatever energy is produced for the National Grid (Rede Nacional de Transporte, RNT). So far as industry experts have been able to ascertain, Vavita is what they call a ‘ghost’ company, based in the central headquarters of a bank with no branches. They wonder why Angola’s President would entrust an unknown company with the task of constructing and operating another dual-fuel thermoelectric power station for Cabinda. Although […]

Read more

Stealing with Presidential Decrees

When Angola’s President decreed in 2012 that the north-western enclave of Cabinda should have a deep-water port, it was heralded as a private sector deal that wouldn’t cost the Angolan state a single cent. The estimated US $540 million construction costs would be funded by private investors and banks. For once, there was no Angolan public sector involvement contemplated. That proved to be a chimera. In fact, the entire Caio Port (Porto de Caio) concept seems to have been a vanity project involving the President’s son, José Filomeno dos Santos known as Zenú and his very close friend and financial mentor, Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais. And sadly, the project is bleeding millions upon millions of dollars from the Angolan Sovereign Wealth Fund controlled by Zenú. A very ‘private’ port The proposal for Cabinda’s deep water port at Caio was first announced in a 2012 presidential decree as a wholly private-sector […]

Read more

The Chevron Ultimatum: Sonangol Has One Week to Save Itself

New management at the Angolan National Oil Company Sonangol has engineered a situation which now threatens the very survival of the company. Since June this year, when Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos installed his daughter Isabel dos Santos to chair the board, Sonangol has repeatedly failed to honour its promises to pay some US $300 million owed to the US multinational oil giant Chevron. The sum relates to production costs for the lucrative Block 0 in Angola’s offshore oilfields, which is 40 percent owned by Sonangol and 39.2 percent owned by Chevron. Sources in Houston have told Maka Angola that the US company has exhausted all options for finding an amicable solution, with no reciprocity from Isabel dos Santos’s board. The result is that Chevron Angola’s Director-General John Baltz has now given the Sonangol board an ultimatum: they have one week to come up with a payment plan or […]

Read more

The Road to Dialogue or Things Fall Apart in Angola

Last Friday, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted a resolution paving the way for Angola to be promoted from a low to middle income country by 2020. This resolution is cause for celebration by the government, for it is an international endorsement of its stewardship of the country. From 2003 to 2013, the country’s oil revenues reached over US $450 billion, according to Angolan economic estimates, and for a decade it ranked among the ten fastest growing economies in the world. Meanwhile, the timing of the UN resolution seems to be a twist of irony for ordinary Angolan citizens. It comes at a time when the bust of the oil fueled economic boom is all too evident on the supermarket shelves, and poverty is on the rise. Food shortages are becoming severe in parts of the country, while in the capital retailers are imposing rationing of certain products. […]

Read more

Youth Protesters Charged with Rebellion on Trial Today

Seventeen young Angolan activists were charged in court with rebellion against the state on Monday, a case rights groups said showed increasing intolerance of dissent. The young campaigners were detained in June after organising a reading of U.S. academic Gene Sharp’s 1993 book: “From Dictatorship to Democracy: A Conceptual Framework for Liberation”. The book’s blurb describes it as: “a blueprint for nonviolent resistance to repressive regimes”. Charges against them read out in court included acts of rebellion, planning mass action of civil disobedience in the capital Luanda and producing fake passports. Their defence lawyer told the hearing his clients were not guilty of any crime because debate and freedom of speech were protected under the constitution. Human rights groups have accused Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and his government of using the legal system to crack down on critics after several activists were jailed or detained this year on […]

Read more

Freedom of Expression: a Crime against the State Security in Angola

In the oil-rich enclave of Cabinda, in the northernmost part of Angola, three individuals share a prison cell, since March 14, charged with crimes against the state security and sedition, for a protest against bad governance and human rights abuses, which never took place.  Their arrests and the charges leveled against them,  are what illustrate the sophistication of the authoritarian rule in Angola. Members of the state security arrested Marcos Mavungo, a university lecturer and oil worker for Chevron, as soon as he exited the Catholic Church where he attended morning mass at 7h00. He was, in fact, the lead proponent of the protest.  The local government swiftly prohibited holding the protest the moment it was notified by the organizers several days before. The demonstration was supposed to be held in the afternoon but the ban, and the massive deployment of police officers in the small urban district of Cabinda […]

Read more