'Germany ready to help Angola's reconstruction'
Berlin: Germany is ready to help Angola overcome the challenges it faces in reconstruction, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday during a visit that aims to boost economic ties with the oil-rich country.
"Angola still faces major development challenges, in education and professional training, as well as in reconstruction and development. Germany is ready to help," she told a forum of Angolan and German business leaders.
"Germany is a fair and decent partner, not only interested in making profits but concerned with the development of Angola," she said.
Speaking at the same forum, Angola's Vice President Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos also urged German companies could help develop the private sector in Angola.
"This contribution should include transfers of scientific and technological knowledge, to boost economic and social development," he said.
Angola is seeking international help -- both aid and commercial loans -- to help finance the ambitious array of reconstruction projects it has embarked on since the end of its 27-year civil war in 2002.
The economy has grown at breakneck speed, although from a very low base, since the end of the war. But the global economic downturn in 2009 sent oil prices falling, hurting the government's main source of income and delaying many large construction projects.
Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa's top oil producer, but the wealth in natural resources has yet to translate into gains in the lives of most Angolans, who live without electricity, running water or decent health care.
"Angola and Angolans will be better off if there is a link between economic progress and social justice," Merkel said.
She also urged Angola to invest in renewable energy as well as in oil and gas.
"Germany has great experience in renewable energy, with good infrastructure and companies that can help Angola in this area," she said.
Merkel is the first German leader to visit Angola, a country that has succeeded in playing Western nations against China in bidding for both contracts and access to its oil.
Trade between the countries is at about EUR 400 million (USD 566 million), according to the Angolan investment agency.
"Germany wants to build its presence in Angola in infrastructure and construction," said Ricardo Gerigk, head of economic affairs at the German embassy in Luanda, at a press conference ahead of her visit.
Merkel arrived late Tuesday in Luanda, following a one-day visit to Kenya. She was set to leave late Wednesday for the Nigerian capital Abuja, the last stop on her African tour.