Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Electricity Angola

We have arrived in Angola, the number 2 producer of oil in sub-Sahara Africa; and the third largest producer on the continent behind Nigeria, and Libya.

For the benefit of those who do not know much about Angola, it fought for years to get self-government for her colonial master Portugal, who reluctantly had to leave in 1975. Portugal was reluctant to leave because at the time it was probably the poorest country in Europe (and it is still close to the bottom here in the year 2008), and like the rest of the colonizers, was raping its colonies of raw material.

You will think after the colonial masters left, self-government would bring peace, wrong! There was a bitter civil war between 2 main factions ( MPLA-PT (Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola-Partido do Trabalho led by Antonio Neto, and UNITAUniao Nacional para a Independecia Total de Angola led by Jonas Savimbi).
Jonas Savimbi is gone, Antonio Neto is gone, how much improvement is there in the lives of the Angolans? The population is estimated at 16 million. Oil is flowing, water is not in every household, in fact, there is water shortage in a large segment of the population.
What about the main topic of this Blog-- Electricity? Well, like every country with delved into, the real numbers are hard to come-by, and what is available is sketchy at best. Over 60% of electricity comes from hydro (my favorite, very “green”), Matala dam in south west Angola that went into operations in 2001 on the Cunene River, is the main source of electricity; the Cambambe dam when it is operating at full capacity produces over 150 Megawatts, the Mabubas dam on the Dande River makes its fair contribution; then comes the rest from thermal, (no nuclear thank the Almighty for that).
So what segment of the population has electricity? Estimates are, less than 20%. Folks, how can that be possible? You will think with all the oil money, a larger part of the population would have access to electricity.
The civil war has been over for some time, the oil is flowing (as much as it is not that “green”, there are communities all around the globe that get their electricity completely from diesel gensets), preventive maintenance is keep production below capability. Blackouts are rampant in Angola, and water supply is not reliable.

I have mixed feelings about giving an opinion of this particular environment, but trouble makers like Savimbi are no longer around, so what is the "poor excuse" from those running the place?

I see nothing but a bunch of hippos in this landscape.