US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo denounced corruption and touted US business on the second leg of an African tour of Angola on Monday, where the government seeks to recover billions of dollars looted from state coffers.
In a bid to promote U.S. investment as an alternative to Chinese loans, Pompeo met with President Joao Lourenco to address concerns over a planned U.S military withdrawal and the expansion of visa restrictions targeting four African countries.
“Here in Angola, damage from corruption is pretty clear,” he told a group of businessmen following that meeting. “This reform agenda that the president put in place has to stick.”
On Tuesday, February 11, 2020, Portugal’s public prosecutor ordered the seizure of Portuguese bank accounts belonging to Isabel dos Santos, who is a suspect in a fraud investigation in Angola.
Dos Santos, the daughter of former Angolan president Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was not immediately available for comment. She has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the past weeks.
Angola, sub-Saharan Africa’s third-largest economy and the second-largest producer of oil in Africa is ranked 165th place on a list of 180 most corrupt countries in the world, according to the anti-corruption group Transparency International.
U.S. oil majors Exxon Mobil, and Chevron have significant stakes in Angolan oil fields.
Last year, Chevron signed onto a consortium to develop Angola’s natural gas assets alongside Italy’s Eni, France’s Total, BP, and Angolan state oil company Sonangol.
“We’ve got a group of energy companies that have put more than $2 billion in a natural gas project. That will rebound to the benefit of the American businesses for sure, but to the Angolan people for sure as well,” Pompeo said.
Despite U.S. investments, China is by far the most important market for Angolan oil, overtaking the US in 2007, accounting for over 40% of the country’s oil exports and the lion’s share of Angolan foreign debt.
The Trump administration has accused China of predatory lending in Africa, where Beijing has loaned governments billions of dollars for infrastructure projects in exchange for access to natural resources. China rejects criticism.
With a revamped International Development Finance Corporation and its new Prosper Africa trade and investment strategy, the administration is seeking to combat Chinese influence on the continent.
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