Spain is attentive to Africa and has selected five countries as a priority, including Angola, which the President of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, will visit in early April, said the country’s ambassador to Luanda, Manuel Ruigómez.
The last visit by a Spanish Prime Minister to Angola was in 1991 with Felipe González, and Mariano Rajoy was supposed to leave in 2018, but the trip was eventually canceled due to the political crisis in Catalonia.
With the visit of Pedro Sánchez, who is starting a short roadmap in Angola, which also leads through Senegal, Spain wants to highlight the growing importance of Africa in its foreign policy and be available to support the development of African countries through investments.
“Spain is dealing more intensively with Africa and two years ago it adopted a new plan in which Africa is becoming more important in foreign policy,” said Manuel Hernández Ruigoméz in an interview with Lusa, emphasizing that Angola is one of the five priority countries of this strategy together with South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Senegal.
The diplomat recalled that Angola has piqued Spain’s interest since its independence in 1975 and that the then President of the Spanish Government, Adolfo Suárez, even met his Angolan counterpart Lopo do Nascimento in Madrid in 1976.
Since then, the relationship between the two countries has “always been strong and intense”, he stressed, as the future of Africa depends on its development and the Europeans “have to be close to their southern neighbors” so that “together” for the progress of this continent.
Spain has so far had a more Latin American foreign policy, as this is the continent closest to the historical and cultural point of view, but Ruigómez defends a stronger European approach to Africa, where problems remain that need to be resolved, such as immigration and poverty.
“I think Spain, like Portugal, should pay more attention to these issues. We are together in a world, as you can see now with the pandemic, which ignores borders. This is our southern border and we have to take care of it, ”said the ambassador.
For Ruigómez, the solutions for African countries to overcome underdevelopment include investments.
“We believe that by encouraging investment by our companies and our public and private investors, we can help get Angola and other countries out of a difficult economic situation,” he said.
The diplomat also praised Angolan President João Lourenço’s fight against corruption since taking office in 2017, which he considered “very important” to facilitate the arrival of Spanish investors.
Other initiatives such as the legislative packages approved by the government and the National Assembly in the area of business facilitation are also needed. He regretted that the pandemic is hindering exchanges between countries.
Without covid-19, he believes Angola would attract more investment, pointing out under relevant legislative measures that it is no longer mandatory to work with Angolan partners to invest in the country.