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located IN THE southwest of Africa, the Republic of Angola gained its independence from the Portuguese in 1975, and the civil war that followed lasted until 1991. The country covers 481,354 sq. mi. (1,246,700 sq. km.), with a population of 15,941,000 (2005 est.) and a population density of 34 people per sq. mi. (13 people per sq. km.).

Because of current upwelling, one of the salient feature's of Angola's geography is the very cold surface water along its coast on the south Atlantic Ocean. The largest concentration of people in the country remains Luanda, the capital, which has nearly a quarter of the entire country's population. The soil in Angola has always been poor, with only 2 percent arable land, and no permanent cultivated crops. Some 23 percent of the land is used as meadows or pasture, with large cattle herds adding to the increasing desertification of the country.

The result is an economy heavily dependent on the sale of petroleum, which contributes about 40 percent of the nation's Gross Domestic Product. This reliance on oil contributes to the high use of fossil fuels for electricity production, with 40.3 percent of Angola's electricity coming from fossil fuels, and 59.6 percent from hydropower.

The major hydroelectric electricity generation takes place at the Cambambe (Capanda) Dam located on the Cuanza River, with further production at the Biopio and the Lomaum dams located along the Catumbela River. In addition, there are other hydroelectric power generation plants, such as that at Luachimo used by the diamond mining works. The war led to the damaging of places such as the Ruacana Falls dam, which was out of action for a long period.

All these factors have helped reduce the carbon dioxide emissions from Angola, which is only 0.4 metric tons per capita, although it rose to 0.9 metric tons per person in 1995, and then fell to 0.57 metric tons per person. The government has also tried to further reduce the already relatively low level of emissions from sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and carbon monoxide.

The Angolan government of José Eduardo dos Santos took part in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change signed in Rio de Janeiro in May 1992, and the government also accepted the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change on May 8, 2007— the 171st country to do so. The Angolan government has argued that dealing with climate change should accompany a global political framework for reducing world poverty.

sEE ALso: Desertification; Oil, Production of; Portugal.

BIBLioGRAPHY. Communications and Hydraulic Development in Guinea, Angola and Moçambique (General Overseas Agency, 1961); Emmanuel Kreike, Re-Creating Eden: Land Use, Environment and Society in Southern Angola and Northern Namibia (Heinemann, 2004).

JUSTIN CORFIELD Geelong Grammar School, Australia

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