byPedro Agosto

Fora country that has been at peace since the end ofcivil war 16 years ago and struggling to service its debts as welladdressing rampant poverty, is ironic that Angola is one of the Africancontinent’s biggest spenders on military expenditure.

Adding controversy to this apparent misplaced priority is theparticipation of some controversial international companies in bids tostrengthen the country’s navy.

A storm has been swirling around the Middle East-based Privinvest, whichin 2016 announced a shipbuilding and maritime economy programme withAngola, a scheme that would culminate in Privinvest providing a range ofvessels for the Angolan Navy.

It is among companies fingered in the debt scandal that left Mozambique’seconomy on its knees having accrued a debt of over US$2 billion.

Privinvest had signed contracts to supply ships to Mozambique but thevessels were never delivered.

The company has recently been snubbed in Nigeria where it lured governmentwith a $2 billion investment proposal to assume control over a derelictshipyard from the Nigerian navy and refurbish it.

President Joao Lourenco, was defense minister when the agreement withPrivinvest was signed.

“His (Lourenco’s) plans to expand the military budget should sound somealarm bells,” analyst Miguel Sanz said.

He rejected government’s position that the expansive budget on militarywas to fight piracy as Angola is looks to expand its offshore oilproduction operations.

“This is despite Angola suffering hardly any such attacks in its watersover the past few years,” Sanz said.

The Southern African country was the third highest spender in 2017, behindAlgeria and South Africa, according to the Stockholm International PeaceResearch Institute (SIPRI).

Angola spent over $3 billion.Spending rose almost four times since the end of the 27-year conflict in2002. The conflict ended following the death of opposition leader, JonasSavimbi, during a clash with government forces.

Angola was the largest military spender in sub-Saharan Africa in 2014.Defence Web, the think-tank, has previously projected the spending on themilitary to increase to $13 billion by 2019, registering a compound annualgrowth rate (CAGR) of about 12 percent over the forecast period.

The organisation stated the troop expansion, as well as a revision introop wage structure would drive the expenditure.

The budget for military is projected to exceed the combined totalallocated for health and education.

There is concern Angola’s emphasis on defense spending leaves it withinsufficient cash available to alleviate poverty in a country with theworld’s highest child mortality rate.

In addition, Angola owes China an estimated $23 billion.

“Spending lavishly on defense at the expense of a majority searing underpoverty reflects misplaced priorities by the government,” saidsocio-economic commentator, Dominique Jordao.

Government and the military have justified the spending, arguing it wasdriven by Angola’s its new commitment to United Nations peacekeepingoperations across Africa.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of CAJ News Africa.

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