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Alrosa to invest $500 mln in Angola building sector

LUANDA, Aug 19 (Reuters) - Russia’s Alrosa, one of the world’s biggest mining companies will invest $500 million to build homes, schools and dams in Angola in the next few years, a company official said on Wednesday.

Alrosa, which operates two mines in Angola, said it decided to venture into Angola’s construction sector when Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came to the African nation in June -- the first visit to Angola by a Russian head of state.

“We want building projects across the whole country that will be designed by Russians ... and developed by Angolans,” Aleksey Chigidin, the deputy director of the state-owned diamond miner said on Wednesday in the daily Jornal de Angola.

The state-owned daily said Alrosa would also explore for oil and gas in Angola with the country’s state-owned oil company Sonangol.

Angola and Russia were strong allies during the Cold War. But links between the two nations weakened after the Cold War when Angola’s ruling MPLA party dropped its Marxist ideologies and turned to capitalism as the country’s oil production soared.

Alrosa’s investment in Angola is yet another sign of Russia’s growing influence in Africa as it vies with the United States and China for control of the continent’s energy and resources.

Angola rivals Nigeria as Africa’s biggest oil producer and is also one of the world’s top five diamond exporters. The African nation is rebuilding infrastructure after a devastating 27-year civil war that ended in 2002. (Reporting by Henrique Almeida)