Angola says close to signing economic deal with U.S.

Angola and the United States are close to signing an agreement that would strengthen commercial ties between the former Cold War foes, Angola's ambassador to the U.S. announced.

The deal will be signed shortly and form the basis of increased trade and economic exchanges between the oil-rich African nation and the world's economic powerhouse, Ambassador Josefina Diakite told state-run news agency ANGOP.

"It will be a very general agreement, similar to those already enjoyed by other African nations," she said June 10 in Luanda before leaving for Washington.

The United States and Angola had a frosty relationship for some two decades after Angola's 1975 independence from Portugal, with Washington viewing the Marxist-dominated government as little more than a proxy for the Soviet Union. But the 1989 collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, the subsequent dismantling of the Soviet Union, and withdrawal of Cuban troops from Angola paved the way for a burgeoning U.S. interest in Angola.

ANGOP reported in May that the two countries signed an accord involving US$626,000 to aid rehabilitation of Angola's power distribution network and the construction of small dams in Kuando Kubango and Moxico provinces.

Final unit of Angola's 520-MW Capanda to operate in July

Meanwhile, Angola officials indicated the second of two units is to begin operation in July as scheduled at the 260-MW second stage of the 520-MW Capanda hydroelectric project. It will be the fourth and final unit of the combined project.

Capanda's first two 130-MW turbine-generators were inaugurated in the project's first stage in 2005 on the Kwanza River. The third unit began operation in April. (HNN 4/27/07)

Under a US$112 million contract with the Angola Ministry of Energy and Water, a consortium of Russian engineering and construction company Technopromexport and builder Norberto Odebrecht of Brazil are designing, delivering, and installing the two additional 130-MW units.

Angolan officials reportedly are studying construction of another six hydro projects on the Kwanza, equal to or larger than Capanda.

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