Since its foundation in the earliest phase of Portuguese colonialism in the 16th Century, Luanda has been pushed about by globalisation. Whether as a port serving the slave trade and later, colonial agriculture, or as a haven for people fleeing villages and rural towns ruined by a war prolonged by international interests, Luanda has been affected by external forces.
Most Luandans live in informal, self-constructed settlements without basic infrastructure and services. With the state budget devoted mainly to the war effort, little formal urban development has been attempted until recently. Official thinking seems dominated by the incorrect assumption that the internally displaced desire, and expect, to return home and that the musseques (shantytowns) will disappear. It is anticipated that the government may, due to the ending of the war, start forcing people to relocate into agriculture-oriented ‘growth’ poles around the capital if they do not relocate voluntarily.
Since independence, Angola has developed an economic system characterised by: the concentration of foreign investment in petroleum and diamonds; economic activity highly focused on Luanda: beyond the city boundaries, transport links and communications facilities are virtually non-existent; the collapse of almost all local production in the face of competition from imported goods; diamond and oil benefits captured by the elite with some highly inequitable trickle-down effect through the insecure, low-margin petty trading of imported goods. […] 2