Things are so bad in Portugal these days that many are emigrating to Angola a former colony. As many as 100,000 are now making their living in the resource rich West African nation which boasts a growth rate of between 8 – 10% this year. Many are making their way to other ex colonies such as Brazil and Mozambique.

Portugal is enduring its worst recession since the 1970s, with austerity measures imposed, unemployment at a record 15% and the economy predicted to shrink by 3% this year. So deep is the malaise that one government minister offered some provocative advice: “If people are unemployed they should leave their comfort zone and look beyond our borders.”

This is what they are doing in such former colonies as Angola, Brazil and Mozambique, whose economies hold up an inverted mirror to their own. Oil-rich Angola enjoyed growth averaging 15% between 2002 and 2008 and, although it then lost momentum, it is still posting figures that the eurozone would envy, with growth expected to recover to between 8% and 10% this year.

Angola is attractive to the Portuguese because of business and cultural links – not least a shared language – forged before it gained independence in 1975. A long, devastating civil war followed, but a decade of peace has transformed the desirability of taking part in sub-Saharan Africa’s third biggest economy.

The number of Portuguese living here has soared from 21,000 in 2003 to more than 100,000 last year, according to official figures which are likely to be a conservative estimate. Some 38% of foreign companies registered in Angola are Portuguese, media reports say, still well ahead of Chinese firms at 18.8%.

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Portuguese people are scenting opportunities in Angola’s thriving construction industry: the skyline of Luanda, the capital, is a symphony of cranes, new skyscrapers and the still incomplete dome of a parliament building by Portuguese company Teixeira Duarte. They are also finding work in banking and IT.

“There’s no humiliation in coming here,” Ribeiro added. “The Angolan government only accepts people with a decent CV looking for a proper job. It’s mostly professionals in the higher bracket. The language still matters. Communication is very important if you hold a high position and need to communicate with workers on a day to day basis. And of course there is a cultural understanding. In 500 years we left an imprint of everything, even a taste for wine, and the hostility towards us is long gone.”

As Europe lurches from financial crisis to crisis, Africa’s economic “lions” offer a lifeline.

Source: Guardian

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