Administration and Development

Angola Table of Contents

Portuguese colonial policies toward civil administration were first formulated in Mozambique, where in the 1890s António Enés, former minister of colonies, advocated close control and full use of African labor, administrative reorganization, and colonization schemes. In 1899 Paiva Couceiro, who had been with Enés in Mozambique, published a volume in which he advocated white colonization, decentralization of administration from Lisbon, and the necessity of inculcating in the Africans the "habit of work." As governor general of Angola between 1907 and 1910, Couceiro prepared the basis of civil administration in the colony. Military officers were to oversee administrative divisions, and through them European civilization was to be brought to the Africans. Many of Couceiro's reforms were incorporated in legislation in 1914 that brought, at least in theory, financial and administrative autonomy to the colony.

There was considerable progress toward the development of an economic infrastructure during the first quarter of the twentieth century. New towns sprang up in the interior, and road construction advanced. The key to development, however, was the Benguela Railway, which would become Angola's largest employer and which linked the mines of the Belgian Congo's Katanga Province (in present-day Shaba Province in Zaire) to the Angolan port at Lobito.

In the 1920s, the Diamond Company of Angola (Companhia de Diamantes de Angola -- Diamang), an exclusive concessionaire in Angola until the 1960s, initiated diamond mining. As the employer of more Africans than any other industry, Diamang deeply affected the lives of its 18,000 African workers through extensive investment and the provision of social services.

The Portuguese, however, were generally unable to provide Angola with adequate development capital or with settlers. Trade had fallen off sharply when the rubber boom ended just before World War I, and the war itself produced only a brief revival of foreign trade. At the end of what is commonly referred to as Portugal's republican era (1910-26), the finances of the colony were in serious difficulty.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress