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Oil Fuels Angola’s Reemergence as a Regional Power

i71jOAz8t..8A decade ago Angola was emerging from a brutal civil war that laid waste to much of the country.

Now, fueled by Africa’s second-biggest oil industry, it’s becoming a regional power, with a seat on the United Nations Security Council and President Jose Eduardo dos Santos’s government helping to broker disarmament talks in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Former colonial ruler Portugal, Spain and China are among countries that added $2.2 billion in investment by Sept. 30 this year to boost agricultural output and help rebuild after the 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. The UN says the nation of 24 million people that’s almost twice the size of Texas will reach middle-income status by 2020 due to oil revenue from companies such as BP Plc (BP/), ConocoPhillips and Repsol SA (REP), which are betting on vast new oil deposits beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

“We plan to use our war experience to promote peace on the African continent and other parts of the globe,” Foreign Minister Georges Chikoti said in an Oct. 23 interview in Luanda, the capital. “For the first time we’re sending troops to the Central African Republic to join UN peacekeeping forces.”

With sub-Saharan Africa’s fifth-largest army, Angola has become a lead negotiator from Guinea-Bissau to the eastern Congo. Angola increased defense spending by 36 percent last year to $6.5 billion, the largest amount on the continent, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Pushing Peace

Angola is now the head of the security committee of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, which includes Uganda, Burundi, Republic of Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Democratic Republic of Congo.

“There is a lot of trust in Angola right now in a way that it will play a more intensive role in the region, especially in the DRC and CAR,” Leif Biureborgh, an adviser to companies such as Ericsson AB, said in an interview in Luanda. “This will enhance its position as a rising regional power.”

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