Environmental conservation and exploitation of mineral resources in Angola: yet another episode of an “inevitable” conflict

Considering the richness of its soils, the landscape of southern Angola has been populated since colonial times by several mining enterprises and quarrying. This raises several questions regarding the extent to which these developments affect land use by local communities, and what are the medium and long term consequences of this extractive economy, both in environmental and socio-cultural terms. This is the case of the interior basin of Etosha / Okavango, which is located in an area that begins in the extreme southeast of the country, in the province of Cuando Cubango, and enters the provinces of Cunene, Moxico and Lunda-Sul.

Source: Jornal de Angola, 23 January 2021.

According to newspaper Jornal de Angola, January 23, 2021 edition, the National Agency of Petroleum, Gas and Biofuels (ANPG) announced the opening of a public tender limited by previous qualification for the opening of new accesses to the interior basin of Etosha / Okavango. This implies an open road for the concession of projects for the exploration of mineral resources directly in the park: if mineral reserves with commercial potential are confirmed, we will be facing the exploration of oil and natural gas not only on-shore (contrary to what happens with the current oil exploration in Angola) but directly within an area identified as of unique biological wealth and under environmental protection. According to the National Institute of Water Resources, it is one of the 5 international or transboundary river basins in the country, subject to a Constitutive Agreement called OKACOM.

Cuebe-Cubango confluence. Photo taken from OKACOM website.

In response, Angolan citizenship reacted, promoting a petition with an Open Letter to the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Environment, demanding effective protection of the areas under protection within the current legislation (sign the petition here!). Likewise, the environmental associations EcoAngola and Fundação Kissama have denounced the situation.


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