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Angola’s ‘jewel’, Lunda Sul, looks to lead Angola’s diversification

Article - October 13, 2014
Lunda Sul is already a leader in Angolan industry thanks to its world famous diamond production, however the North Eastern province is also turning leader in Angola’s economic diversification efforts, as Governor Candida Narciso’s regional government puts increased focus on agriculture and alternative minerals to boost socio-economic development
Straddling the border of Democratic Republic of Congo in the North East of Angola, Lunda Sul, is the true ‘jewel’ of the rapidly growing southern African country. This is because ever since the first ever recorded discovery of diamonds in Angola were made here in 1912 – it has become the centre of the nation’s diamond production.

The Catoca diamond mine established in Lunda Sul near the province’s capital of Saurimo is in fact the fifth largest diamond mine in the world. The mine produced 6.7million carats (Mct) of rough diamonds and earned revenue of $579m in 2012. Today it accounts for about 6% of the world diamond production and about 70% of Angola's diamond output.

Diamonds have therefore been at the crux of Lunda Sul’s economic development in recent history, as well playing an increasingly important role in the economy of Angola as a whole.

“The Catoca Mining Society employs a large population and, with this, we improve the degree of employability, the economy of the province, and the well-being of families,” explains Candida Narciso, Governor of Lunda Sul.

Indeed thanks to the wealth created by diamond industry, the development of Lunda Sul is evident in the investment put into its infrastructure in recent times, which has seen the creation of a new airport, new roads and streets lit up with solar panels throughout the province.

However, mirroring the economic scenario that affects the entirety of Angola through the country’s main export commodity, oil; the government of Lunda Sul is aware that its own major resource is likewise finite (the Catoca diamond mine has an expected mining life of 30 years), and therefore the province is now working to create a more sustainable and diversified economy through the development of its other industries.

With the existence of rich and fertile soils in Lunda Sul, agricultural development is at the heart of this focus.

“Today, besides the already familiar petroleum and diamonds, we have been able to have other types of production that support the national economy,” says Governor Narciso.

“We are making significant steps in the agricultural domain, which can be complemented with attractive tarrifs which already privilege domestic products over imports, and with this we already are beginning to try to live off of that which we produce.”

The Governor also explains that owing to newly built infrastructure made possible by its diamond wealth, the agriculture industry has been given a significant jumpstart.

“Before, with the roads in poor condition, it was impossible for trucks with merchandise and products to get around,” she says. “Now, with these incentives that the state is promoting, we think it will be possible to have agriculture on the level we want. Here in the province we have around 35 agricultural products, each of which will receive around 500,000 US dollars in investment. Consequently the living conditions of the population will increase.”

Such investment will undoubtedly help Lunda Sul to boost its physical and social infrastructure further.

“We are going to continue to increase coverage in terms of access to water and energy, access to education and health, and improvements in secondary and tertiary roads,” continues Governor Narciso. “While, diamonds have been placed at the disposition of the province for the improvement of living conditions, the largest wealth continues to be our people.”

Although diamonds will undoubtedly continue to be the primary industry in Lunda Sul for the time being, it is evident that the region’s diversification efforts are now in full swing; a trend that is on the increase all over the country as Angola looks to a more sustainable future, with much less reliance on oil, as well as diamonds.

And while agriculture looks to be the forerunner in the region’s efforts, just as Lunda Sul is incredibly rich with one precious mineral, it is said that its soils could be equally as rich in other minerals, meaning the region’s mining sector – with the help of investors – could continue to propel the Angolan economy even longer into the future.

“There are clearly other minerals under our soil that still are not being mined, and thus we need to promote these minerals and introduce these minerals to capable and knowledgeable investors who can come to Lunda Sul,” says Governor Narciso.

“We hope that US companies can feel incentivized to invest in our province which has many mineral resources, as well as many water resources, and much arable land.”