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This OPEC country has just witnessed historic political change, but who’s really in charge?


Outgoing Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and MPLA presidential candidate Joao Lourenco hold hands during the closing campaign rally in Luanda, Angola, on August 19, 2017.

Marco Longari | AFP | Getty Images

Outgoing Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and MPLA presidential candidate Joao Lourenco hold hands during the closing campaign rally in Luanda, Angola, on August 19, 2017.

“Everything points towards continuity rather than change after the election,” Richard Mallinson, geopolitical analyst at Energy Aspects, told CNBC.

This is worrying given that the economy, sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest, is arguably in crisis. Gross domestic product growth shuddered to a halt in 2016 and inflation for the last 12 months averages at 29 percent.

While the International Monetary Fund expects economic growth for 2017 to rise to 1.3 percent, problems, including a devalued kwanza and a foreign exchange shortage, continue to simmer away.

Dependence on crude oil is part of Angola’s problem, the commodity making up an average of 97 percent of exports over the last 10 years, according to the World Bank.

But, the oil industry is plagued by corruption, and its wealth when prices were high has been shared among too few, for too long. Other challenges remain according to Mallinson, one being “attracting foreign investment in deepwater projects in a low oil price environment,” crucial as the bulk of Angola’s oil is offshore.

Oil companies including Eni, Exxon and Total currently operate in the country.

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