African leader making a difference
He was sworn into office on September 26. Now, less than three months into his taking the job, the world is beginning to pay attention to the sterling strides that are daily being recorded by Angola’s president, Joao Lourenco.
Evidence of this can be seen in the very optimistic response from investors to the nation’s Eurobonds which have chalked a commendable 8 percent return since he took up the mantle of office.
To properly situate this achievement is the fact that the average yield rate for emerging-market bonds within the period was an average 0.3%!
To be sure, Angola is an oil producing country, and indeed one that is in strident competition with Nigeria for the title of largest oil producer from the continent of Africa.
However, it has like other oil producers, been faced with dwindled fortunes from the hitherto most lucrative oil sector, hence the imperative of diversification and the recourse to the band market.
It was within this climate then that Lourenco took over as president,replacing Jose Eduardo dos Santos, who had ruled the former Portuguese colony since 1979.
Part of the Lourenco allure currently, resides in the fact that he has since demonstrated very strongly that though he was a part of dos Santos’ crony and paternalistic regime, as president, he is indeed his own man, and as at now, one that will put the nation first in the conduct of affairs, no matter whose ox is gored.
To push reforms in the oil sector, he has shaken up the powerful SONANGOL in the process taking out the untouchable Isabel dos Santos, daughter of his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos.
The former defence minister, he has also replaced several of the top brass within the national securety architecture even as he has equally opened up the telecommunications sector for even more competition.
And at the level of foreign affairs, his involvement in the negotiations to ease out President Mugabe of Zimbabwe and reaching out to sign a new no-visa pact with regional behemoth, South Africa indicates that, much unlike his predecessor, this is one leader intent on progressively taking Angola ‘out of the cold!’
And on the arena of monetary policy, last week’s upscaling of the principal interest rate by 200 basis points by the Angola Central Bank is being interpreted by observers as a first step in the battle to frontally combat soaring inflation, which had since risen to as much as 30 percent!
Of course much more needs to be done, and more time needs to pass for a fuller assessment of the Lourenco phenomenon, but what is already coming out very clear is that Africa needs more leaders in this mould!
President Jose Lourenco of Angola and his predecessor, Jose Eduardo dos Santos