Prof. Ball

14 June

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is set to visit Angola as part of a seven-nation Africa trip beginning tomorrow. Why Angola? Well, Angola recently surpassed Saudi Arabia and Iran as China´s top provider of crude. That makes Angola a very important partner indeed. It also helps to explain why Chinese workers have been brought over to rehabilitate the Benguela Railway (part of China´s payment for future oil is to rehabilitate Angola infrastructure), which stretches from the Port of Lobito across Angola to Katanga in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Angola is set to double its oil production in the next three years to reach two million barrels per day in 2008.


13 June

So Angola´s national soccer team, the Palancas Negras (a Palanca Negra is a beautiful and rare sable with extremely long horns found only in a remote region of central Angola), lost to Portugal in the first round of the World Cup on Sunday. Angola played well, losing to a very strong Portuguese team 1-0. It was fun to be in Catumbela because the whole town watched; a bar in the center of town set up a TV outside and the party went on all day. It also happened to be my birthday, so it was festive. As you may know, the World Cup 2010 will be in South Africa–the first time, I believe, the event will be held in Africa. I am sure that once S. Africa hosts a successful World Cup, they will be in line to host the Summer Olympics.

Black Temple


7 June

Transcribing interviews today I came across a note I made to myself after a conversation with the owners of Chinguar´s ´loja chinês´or ´Chinese Shop´. Every Angolan town of any size has a ´loja chinês´which has a photocopy machine, lamination services, and a place to have your picture taken. Turns out all of these shops, in every town I´ve visited, are owned by economic migrants from China or Vietnam. That these stores generate much income surprises me, but evidently they do, as the folks I spoke with in Chinguar said that a relative with a store in Luanda (the Angolan capital) set them up three years ago and they have already paid back all of the start up capital. It´s a small world.

In other news, the residential real estate market in Catumbela, and especially in nearby Lobito, which has Angola´s second largest port, is red hot. An American company called Sonimet is building tankers here to be used in the export of Angolan oil, and plans to increase production severalfold over the next several years. It is nearly impossible for foreigners to buy property, so they must rent from Angolans, and with a limited supply of nice houses, rents are climbing through the roof. My landlords have been offered $5,000 USD A MONTH for their modest but nice house.

Another day in this African life…

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