Exploring the Non-Oil Economy of Angola: Fisheries

Located on Africa’s western coast, Angola is a large country with diverse landscapes that includes the semi-desert, the rugged highlands, and a long coastline with plateaus and forests. It borders Zambia to the east, the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the northeast, Namibia to the south, and the South Atlantic Ocean to the west. The capital city of Angola is Luanda (Clarence-Smith 1999).

Angola’s past has had a significant impact on the country’s economy today. During the colonial period, the Portuguese government considered Angola to be its foreign crown gem. It established the colony as a target for ambitious colonization efforts and encouraged economic investments. As a result of these initiatives, the Angolan economy was rapidly developing by the 1970s, with key exports including sisal, diamonds, coffee, and petroleum. A post-independence civil conflict ravaged the economy, displacing much of the people, destroying physical plants, and disrupting transportation even more than the earlier guerrilla war had. Only the petroleum sector, which was neither nationalised nor controlled and was not subject to combat, was able to provide consistent income.

It is a well-known fact that Angola is an oil-rich country, where oil accounts for more than one-third of the Angolan economy and more than 90% of Angolan exports (Chawani et al. 2018). Because the oil industry has been open to the public for so long, the economy has been prone to contractions and inflations, as well as worldwide fluctuations in oil prices. This has placed the Angolan economy’s stability at the mercy of volatile oil prices, which have destabilised the country (IMF 2018). In such a circumstance, it is critical to investigate non-oil sectors of the economy that might give the much-needed impetus to bring about a shift in economic conditions.

Angola has a significant mid-to-long-term potential for maritime transportation and aquaculture growth, as stressed by the government’s 2018-2022 National Development Plan (International Trade Administration 2019). Angola offers some of the richest fishing grounds in Africa due to the positive effects of the cold Benguela Current, particularly along the extreme southern coast. Crabs, lobsters, and prawns are readily available, as are sticklebacks, sardines, mackerel, catfish, mullet, and tuna (Clarence-Smith 1999).

Angola’s fisheries reserves are divided into two categories: marine and inland. Marine capture fisheries are classified as industrial or artisanal. Commercial fish species targeted by the industrial sector include sardinella, tuna, horse mackerel, shrimp, lobsters, deep-sea red crab, and other demersal fishes. Approximately 170,000 MT of fish are landed by the sector from 200 fishing boats. Angola has a significant artisanal fishing fleet. In 2005, the fishing sector employed 31,528 individuals, 22,521 of whom worked in the artisanal sector, operating 3,000 to 4,500 vessels (mainly without any engine), which has at least doubled in numbers presently. Angola has no large lakes, but it does have many rivers that flow across its borders and include some high-value freshwater species. Tilapia species along with catfish (Clarias gariepinus) and freshwater prawns (Macrobrachium rosenbergii) are the most significant and prolific freshwater fish. Inland fisheries are mostly for subsistence, although there is significant potential for increasing output, which now amounts to 6,000 tonnes per year. This industry employs over 7,000 full-time fishermen and is the greatest contributor to rural employment. Aquaculture development in Angola is a poverty-reduction strategy implemented by the Angolan government through the Ministry of Fisheries. In this regard, various aquaculture ponds have been developed around the country (Konda 2008).

According to the most recent Ministry of Fisheries figures, fishing accounted for less than 3.7 percent of Angola’s GDP in 2017, with an output of around 532,014 tonnes. According to the Angolan 2018-2022 National Development Plan, the government of Angola expects sectors growth to range between 4.7 and 8.3 percent through 2022 (Códia and Ferreira 2019). With assistance from the AfDB and the UN, the Angolan government is promoting the development of the fisheries industry, including both coastal and aquaculture value-added output. Angola has a substantial artisanal fishing fleet, with over 100,000 individuals making a living from the fisheries sector, including 50,000 artisanal fishermen grouped in organisations that fish in teams and share equipment, such as 9,000 engine-powered boats. The coastlines of Luanda and Benguela provinces have the highest proportion of artisanal fishing. Microcredit and regional assistance centres with facilities for boat and gear maintenance, fish processing, and docks are provided as part of the National Development Plan to maximise production quality and living conditions in artisanal fisher folk by the Angolan government (International Trade Administration 2019).

Although Angola’s aquaculture output is now limited to tilapia and catfish, government initiatives to boost production are underway, aided by a loan of 1 million from the International Fund for Agricultural Development of the United Nations (IFAD). Angolan officials aimed to produce more than 700,000 tonnes of fish per year by 2018 through small-scale communal ponds and a limited number of medium to large-scale commercial aquaculture facilities but were unable to accomplish this target. Alternatively, the government’s National Development Program anticipates strategic initiatives to boost national output.

The Angolan Ministry of Fisheries is in the midst of creating regional processing and cold storage facilities as well as various technical support and training centres for the artisanal fisheries sector. In addition, some private sector aquaculture farms are being built. Commercial sales prospects exist for US equipment and technology providers in aquaculture production, small-scale fishing devices, fish processing, cold chain machinery, and logistics operations (International Trade Administration 2019). Another government goal is combating illicit, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. The Ministry of Fisheries and the Sea tries to combat illicit fishing by operating 15 patrol vessels purchased from China and France (FAO 2022).

Following discussions with interested economic operators, the government has adopted fisheries management measures based on biological facts and economic reasons. The government has also proposed alternative incentive programmes to encourage private investment in key sectors. Priority is given to the following actions: ice production and cold storage networks in areas where this may contribute to increasing the value of artisanal fish products; support for artisanal fleets and marketing of the artisanal catch; industrial fishing of unused resources or on new fishing grounds; renewal and expansion of the semi-industrial fishing fleet; establishment of fish processing facilities; and promotion of marine shrimp culture (FAO 2022).

Many organisations, both corporate and public, are now engaged in this industry. With exports to other nations and trade inputs, this sector not only can develop and support a significant portion of the economy, but it also has the potential to employ a bigger portion of the population. Because of its lengthy coastline and rivers, the local population working in the fishing business has a greater opportunity to contribute to the total GDP. The sector has developed through time and still has a long way to go.

“Angola Marine Technology (Fisheries and Sea Ports).” International Trade Administration, 13 October 2019, https://www.trade.gov/country-commercial-guides/angola-marine-technology-fisheries-and-sea-ports.
“Aquaculture Production (metric tons) – Angola.” The World Bank, 2018, https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/ER.FSH.AQUA.MT?end=2018&locations=AO&start=2000&view=chart.
Clarence-Smith, William Gervase. “Angola.” Encyclopedia Britannica, 26 July 1999, https://www.britannica.com/place/Angola.
“Fish in home-grown school feeding: Angola, Honduras and Peru.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2021, https://www.fao.org/fishery/en/openasfa/d12e9572-a0b3-42bb-b738-57d404ef8385.
 “Fisheries and Aquaculture Country Profiles: Angola.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, January 2022, https://www.fao.org/fishery/en/facp/ago.
Konda, Fredy Ditomene Mbala. “Present Status of Fisheries Wealth in Angola.” Journal of Marine Bioscience and Biotechnology, vol. 3, no. 1, 2008, p. 1–6.
Research Papers
Chawani, Rodgers, McGregor, Thomas, Sobrinho, Nelson and Visconti, Claudio. “Angola: Selected Issues.” IMF Country Report No. 18/157, International Monetary Fund, 25 April 2018, p. 6.
Códia, Nzambi and Ferreira, Vieira. “History and experiences with limited access fisheries (input and output controls): the case of the small pelagic fishery in Angola.” Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, vol. 64, October 2019, https://www.fao.org/fishery/en/openasfa/0d83a95b-69f0-457f-9b18-3598a2414b54.


Khushi Kesari is a history undergraduate student at the University of Delhi in New Delhi, India. She will graduate in June 2022 and has been an excellent student who excels in both academics and extracurricular activities. She is an avid reader who enjoys learning about various cultures and their background. She has interned and volunteered with a variety of organizations, including National Service Scheme (NSS), India Lost and Found (ILF), Tanzania Development Trust (via UN), and others, with the goal of promoting women’s empowerment, raising awareness about heritage and culture, and promoting girl child education, among other things. She believes in the power of small acts of kindness and strives to help others whenever and wherever she can.

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