Thinking Aloud: The Darius Index, Angola

Apr. 5, 2014 by Darius 

[A month ago I introduced the Darius Index, which aims to measure the discrepancy between a country’s wealth – as measured by GDP per capita – and what that country does with the money – as measured by the UN’s Human Development Index.  See https://notwhatyoumightthink.wordpress.com/2014/03/05/thinking-aloud-the-darius-index/]

This week I’ll examine the fourth country on the list (actually, tied for #3): Angola.

Angola is another classic example of a country suffering from the resource curse.  In Angola’s case, there are actually two resources:  oil and diamonds.  Of the two, oil is more important, representing half of GDP and almost all of Angola’s exports and government revenue.

Diamonds, however, are easier to extract and transport, making them a funding source of choice for sundry illegal activities, including armed rebellion.  Civil war started almost immediately after Angola’s independence from Portugal in 1975, with three major factions, buttressed by foreign interventions from Cuba, South Africa, and the US, waging an immensely destructive war until 2002.  The war displaced a third of the Angolan population.

The Angolan economy is growing thanks to high oil prices.  Some half-hearted attempts have been made to restore the country’s shattered infrastructure, but they have fallen far short of what is needed.  Unlike South Africa and Botswana, which had decent human development but strong per capita GDP, Angola’s human development is abysmal.

Angola’s problems are exacerbated by government corruption, which is rife.  Angola isn’t quite the most corrupt country on the Darius Index so far – that prize goes to Equatorial Guinea – but nevertheless Transparency International rates Angola as 153 out of 177 in corruption.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear that anything is on the verge of major improvement in Angola.

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