China occupies a prominent role in the economy of most African countries. In less than two decades, China became one of the most important trading partners and largest financier of infrastructure projects in Africa. From its early diplomatic efforts during the Cold War to derail any influence Taiwan and the Soviet Union could have on the continent, China shifted gears at the beginning of this century to focus on trade and economic development. Today, China’s investments in Africa are spread through a range of sectors, taking on the most grandiose infrastructure projects that were put aside since Africa’s colonial times. For all this, China’s influence on the continent is unrivalled and only seems to grow.
The centrepiece of the evolution of any city is access to electricity. However, this basic element of modern life, and what most of the people take for granted, does not reach a large proportion of the population living in Sub-Saharan Africa. Only 40% of the people in that region have access to electricity. This number gets even smaller in the rural areas, where less than 25% of the population can turn on a lamp at night (Figure 1). This is the third article of the “Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa” series, following “City Master Plans” and “Affordable Housing.”
Angola has experienced rapid growth in the last decade, mostly propelled by the exploitation of its vast natural resources. Today, the country ranks as the third largest economy in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its history, like that of many African nations, is characterised by struggle and battle. After its independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola entered into a 27-year long civil war, where two major opposition parties, MPLA and Unita, fought for supremacy. In 2002, the two parties finally agreed on a cease-fire and started to focus on rebuilding the country. The rebirth of Angola started in 2002.