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How Will Angola's New President Deal With Economic Problems?


Joao Lourenco, shows his ink-stained finger after casting his vote in elections in Luanda, Angola on August 23, 2017. (AP Photo/Bruno Fonseca, File)

Angolans have elected their first new president in nearly forty years.

Joao Lourenco, the president-elect, has said he wants to reduce the country's dependence on oil. But critics say the country's economic problems and inequality do not come from dependence on oil. Rather, they say that these problems come from bad governance.

Many Angolans hope economic conditions improve.

Kialopo Feliciana sells food at a market in Luanda. She makes about $18 a day.

But, the business is very costly, she told VOA recently. That is why she has little money for her home and family.

Of the money she makes, Feliciana brings home about $9 a day. But her family depends on the money, she says, because her adult son cannot find a job.

Unemployment is around 26 percent in the country.

On the other side of town from Feliciana, there are large houses and upscale stores on many streets. At a gelato shop, customers spend what is equal to Feliciana's daily income in one visit.

Retiring President Jose Eduardo dos Santos lives in this neighborhood. During his 38-year rule, he was often accused of spending the government's oil income on himself and those close to him.

Angola is Africa's second-largest oil producer, but that wealth has not helped all Angolans. President-elect Lourenco says he wants to develop industries other than oil.

Before the election, he told a crowd that he wants to increase activity in agriculture, tourism, industry, and other areas of the economy.

Accusations of Bad Governance

But his critics say the problem is far simpler. Manuel Fernandes is an opposition lawmaker. He told VOA that poverty in the country is not because of the drop in oil prices. Poverty in the country, he said, comes from bad governance.

Government critic and reporter Rafael Marques says Lourenco is in a difficult situation because dos Santos still controls much of the nation's wealth.

"The question is, how is he going to run the country without money,” he said. Marques says that people who were members of the government “are living with a tight control over the economic assets of the country, which they will not pass on to the new president."

It is a difficult situation for Lourenco. Once the official vote count is confirmed, he must turn to the task of governing.

I'm John Russell.

Anita Powell reported on this story for VOA News. John Russell adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in This Story

upscale – adj. relating to or appealing to people who have a lot of money

gelato – n. Italian or Italian-style ice cream

asset – n. a valuable person or thing

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