Angola - Poverty and wealth

The vast majority of Angolans live in poverty, while the political elites are very wealthy. Access to goods for the poor and the rich is very different. For years there has been a shortage of consumer goods , and the government sought to obtain fair distribution via lojas do povo (people's stores). However, only about 15 basic commodities were available, and in practice the shelves were often empty. The elites on the other hand had access to lojas de responsaveis (stores for high-ranking people) and lojas francas (free shops) where they could buy goods with foreign currency only. Economic policies were faltering and this made it more difficult for people to make ends meet both in rural and urban areas. Therefore, a parallel economy grew rapidly after independence.

An estimated three-quarters of economically active people have been involved in the informal economy. There are 2 main elements of the informal economy: rural, subsistence agricultural production (which occupies 85 percent of the population) and the urban parallel market, a system of exchange outside regulated channels. However, due to the lack of infrastructure and war conditions, there has been little integration of these two aspects

GDP per Capita (US$)
Country 1975 1980 1985 1990 1998
Angola N/A 698 655 667 527
United States 19,364 21,529 23,200 25,363 29,683
South Africa 4,574 4,620 4,229 4,113 3,918
Dem. Rep. of Congo 392 313 293 247 127
SOURCE : United Nations. Human Development Report 2000; Trends in human development and per capita income.

of the informal sector. Therefore, the urban markets tend to rely on imports.

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