Luanda is the capital and largest city in Angola. It is Angola's primary port, and it’s major industrial, cultural and urban centre. Located on Angola's northern coast with the Atlantic Ocean, Luanda is both Angola's chief seaport and its administrative centre. It is also the capital city of Luanda Province. Among the oldest colonial cities of Africa, it was founded in January 1576 as São Paulo da Assunção de Loanda by Portuguese explorer Paulo Dias de Novais. The city served as the centre of the slave trade to Brazil before its prohibition. At the start of the Angolan Civil War in 1975, most of the white Portuguese left as refugees, principally for Portugal. Luanda's population increased greatly from refugees fleeing the war, but its infrastructure was inadequate to handle the increase. The city is currently undergoing a major reconstruction, with many large developments taking place that will alter its cityscape significantly.
The industries present in the city include the processing of agricultural products, beverage production, textile, cement, newly car assembly plants, construction materials, plastics, metallurgy, cigarettes and shoes. The city is also notable as an economic centre for oil, and a refinery is located in the city. Luanda has been considered one of the most expensive cities in the world for expatriates. The inhabitants of Luanda are mostly members of the ethnic group of the Ambundu, but in recent times there has been an increase of the number of the Bakongo and the Ovimbundu.
Data and Facts
- Luanda is one of the most expensive cities in the world for ex-pats.
- GDP: US$187.3 billion as of October 2016 (for Angola, per WorldsRichestCountries.com)
- GDP per person: $7,260
- Population: 2,825,311 (Luanda city)
- Density: 64,212 people per square mile (24,792 per square kilometre)
- Population: 6,955,000 (Luanda Province)
Until 2011, the former Luanda Province comprised what now forms five municipalities.
Two new municipalities have been created within Greater Luanda since 2017: Talatona and Kilamba-Kiaxi
The city of Luanda is divided in six urban districts: Ingombota, Angola Quiluanje, Maianga, Rangel, Samba and Sambizanga.
In Samba and Sambizanga, more high-rise developments are to be built. The capital Luanda is growing constantly - and in addition, increasingly beyond the official city limits and even provincial boundaries.
Luanda is the seat of a Roman Catholic archbishop. It is also the location of most of Angola's educational institutions, including the private Catholic University of Angola and the public University of Agostinho Neto. It is also the home of the colonial Governors Palace and the Estádio da Cidadela, Angola's main stadium, with a total seating capacity of 60,000.
Petroleum was discovered nearby in 1955, and there is a refinery at the north end of Luanda Bay. In addition to the city’s port facilities, Luanda is served by an international airport and the Luanda Railway, which has its eastern terminus in Malanje. Around one-third of Angolans live in Luanda, 53% of whom live in poverty. Living conditions in Luanda are poor for most of the people, with essential services such as safe drinking water and electricity still in short supply, and severe shortcomings in traffic conditions.
The stated aim was to try to diversify the heavily oil-dependent economy and nurture farming and industry sectors which have remained weak. Manufacturing includes processed foods, beverages, textiles, cement and other building materials, plastic products, metalware, cigarettes, and shoes/clothes. Petroleum is refined in the city, although this facility was repeatedly damaged during the Angolan Civil War of 1975–2002. Economic growth is largely supported by oil extraction activities, although great diversification is taking place.
Large investment, along with strong economic growth, has dramatically increased construction of all economic sectors in the city of Luanda. In 2007, the first modern shopping mall in Angola was established in the city at Belas Shopping mall.
The government is offering specific financial programs for MSMEs and young entrepreneurs, such as ProJovem (an initiative under the responsibility of MAPTSS – ‘Ministério da Administração Pública, Trabalho e Segurança Social’), that gives credit to young entrepreneurs who prove that they have viable business projects. The program might provide credit both to start the business or to make it grow, with more favourable interest rates than the ones currently found in the market. Commercial banks are promoters and operators of this program.
Despite the considerable number of incubators/accelerators in Luanda and the public sector support, the results show that the current initiatives are not consistent over time. Some of the actors who are responsible for these organizations are not 100% allocated to them and, thus, develop ad hoc initiatives. This fact generates a feeling that agents are constantly entering and exiting the ecosystem according to their availability, and not providing regularity and consistency of programs available to entrepreneurs.
Luanda is the starting point of the Luanda railway that goes due east to Malanje. The civil war left the railway non-functional, but the railway has been restored up to Dondo and Malanje.
The main airport of Luanda is Quatro de Fevereiro Airport, which is the largest in the country. Currently, a new international airport, Angola International Airport is under construction southeast of the city, a few kilometres from Viana, which was expected to be opened in 2011. However, as the Angolan government did not continue to make the payments due to the Chinese enterprise in charge of the construction, the firm suspended its work in 2010.
The Port of Luanda serves as the largest port of Angola and is one of the busiest ports in Africa. The major expansion of this port is also taking place. In 2014, a new port was being developed at Dande, about 30 km to the north.
Luanda's roads are in a poor state of repair but are currently undergoing an extensive reconstruction process by the government in order to relieve traffic congestion in the city.
Public transit is provided by the suburban services of the Luanda Railway, by the public company TCUL, and by a large fleet of privately owned collective taxis as white-blue painted minibuses called Candongueiro. Candongueiro is usually Toyota Hiace vans, that are built to carry 12 people, although the candongueiros usually carry at least 15 people. They charge from 100 to 200 kwanzas per trip. They are known to disobey traffic rules, for example not stopping at signs and driving over pavements and aisles.
Angola’s research institutes include the Cotton Scientific Research Center in Catete, the Agronomic Research Institute in Huambo, the Institute for Veterinary Research in Lubango, the Angola Medical Research Institute in Luanda, and the Angolan Directorate of Geological and Mining Services in Luanda. The University Agostinho Neto has faculties of sciences, agriculture, medicine, and engineering, and the National Center of Scientific Investigation. The National Museum of Natural History and the National Anthropology Museum is located in Luanda. In order to build traction and share the ownership of the plan, we needed to establish an inclusive process to gather and reflect the true aspirations of Luanda’s citizens and institutional stakeholders.
In parallel, our engagement with the government, from local municipalities to national decision-makers, gave us a clear understanding of the political environment at all levels and enabled us to pitch our ideas within the right framework. The aim of the masterplan is to establish Luanda as a major economic force in Africa, as well as transforming it into one of the continent’s most liveable cities. The Plan will leave a mark in Luanda’s history.
Social Wellness and Human Resources
As the economic and political centre of Angola, Luanda is similarly the epicentre of Angolan culture. The city is home to numerous cultural institutions, including the Sindika Dokolo Foundation.
Angola’s ex-pat population helps explain why the country is able to sustain its status as more expensive than Singapore or Hong Kong, despite the bulk of the population living in extreme poverty. Angola has Africa’s second-largest oil reserves and as a result, a large ex-pat population-based in Luanda has high levels of expendable income. Post-civil war, Angola’s GDP grew at an astronomical rate, reaching 23% growth in 2008, buoyed by a flood of foreign investment. This has left the cost of living in Angola at its current unattainable level, with only Luanda’s ex-pat population able to afford it.
Extreme poverty has indeed declined by one-third since the civil war, but economic inequality has grown exponentially throughout Angola’s oil boom. If this is successful, Angola’s cost of living can become less of a burden on its largely poverty-stricken population, who are currently shut out of the new wealth the country is enjoying.