Sunday, June 28, 2015

"The severe inequality of the Angolan oil boom."


Half of Angolans live on less than two dollars a day, infant mortality rates are among the highest in the world, and the average life expectancy—fifty-two—is among the lowest.


When oil people leave Angola, he told me, they often sell their freezers, packed with American beef, to their successors. “People can charge ten thousand dollars for a well-stocked freezer,’’ he said. He mentioned that a friend once tried to sell him a roll of aluminum foil for a hundred and forty dollars. Espinosa grinned and rolled his eyes. “That crazy Randy,’’ he said. “In the end, I think I paid thirty dollars.’’


Displaying such wealth in a country as impoverished as Angola can be a challenge. One member of the President’s inner circle owns a Rolls-Royce, but there are few good roads in Luanda. So every Sunday he loads the car into a trailer, takes it to the Marginal—a recently renovated two-mile-long promenade along the South Atlantic—drives it for a while on the capital’s only smooth road, loads it back into its trailer, and has it hauled away.