Angolans vote for first time in 16 years

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Bob Moon: OK, so maybe you haven’t given much thought, if any, to Angola. Or, to the more than eight million people going to the polls there today. It’s the first election in that African nation in 16 years, after a decades-long civil war. To illustrate how you have a stake in what happens there — how we all do — consider that Angola’s rapidly vying to be Africa’s top oil exporter, feeding our voracious demand with more than two million barrels per day. And Gretchen Wilson reports the country could soon become a much-sought-after global trading partner.

Gretchen Wilson: Angola is among the fastest-growing economies in the world. Since 2004, this former Portuguese colony clocked GDP growth of about 15 percent a year — largely on the back of billions of dollars in oil exports. The country also has stores of diamonds, iron ore and copper. Many economists expect Angola to become one of the wealthier countries in Africa. And with the peace, foreign investors have been attracted. China alone has offered the government a line of credit worth $7 billion. The U.S., Brazil and the EU are all vying for projects beyond the oil industry in agriculture and construction.

The hope is today’s election could be a step towards democracy and broader prosperity. According to the World Bank, 70 percent of Angola’s population live on less than $2 a day.

In Johannesburg, I’m Gretchen Wilson for Marketplace.

All reporting by Gretchen L. Wilson, © 2008

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