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China’s Construction of Airport in Angola: A Project Never to Be Finished

The international airport near Luanda, the capital of Angola, a west-coast country in south-central Africa, is projected to handle an annual traffic of 13 million passengers. However, this huge project, which has been under construction for 15 years, has not yet been completed. A Chinese company has been constructing the airport. To date, it has cost billions of dollars. In 2004, President José Eduardo dos Santos commissioned the China International Fund (CIF) and the Brazilian construction company Odebrecht to undertake the project.

Due to design flaws and quality issues, China Aviation Industry Corporation (AVIC) replaced CIF. In 2009, construction was suspended due to financial difficulties. Angolan construction workers protested that the project mainly used Chinese workers. The first phase of the construction was completed in 2012. The airport was originally planned to be put into use in 2015 to 2016. The opening was postponed until 2017. Now the design of the airport is outdated. Its functions and technical equipment are no longer fit for today’s needs. Therefore, the airport’s opening has again been postponed temporarily until 2023. Angolan Minister of Transportation Ricardo de Abreu said that it is necessary to ensure that the new airport has modern equipment and a modern layout. To finance the project, the construction company can borrow $6.5 billion.

Angolan journalist Rafael Marques told Deutsche Welle, “This is one of the biggest unfinished projects in Africa. … The project as originally planned was to cost $300 million. Now the cost has increased to $9 billion, and it’s still uncertain when it will be completed.” The Angolan reporter went on, “This is a meaningless construction project. It has no hope of completion and it has trapped Angola in heavy debts.”

Marques added that all previous investments in Angola or any form of real estate project generally involved corruption. He said, “The main difference now is that the scale of Chinese investment in Angola is unprecedented and this has led to the most serious corruption in Angola’s history.”

Source: Deutsche Welle Chinese, September 8, 2019