Portugal: Emigrate to Angola, jobless are told


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The Independent Online

Portugal's unemployment is almost 15 per cent, VAT at 23 per cent has kicked in, and its bailed-out economy stutters along ever more painfully. But a solution, of sorts, is at hand for the country's beleaguered population: emigrate to Portugal's former colony of Angola.

When Angola declared independence in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Portuguese in the south-west African country returned to Europe, including Pedro Passos Coelho, the current Prime Minister. Now the tide of emigration has reversed, to the point where an estimated 20,000 Portuguese are taking the seven-hour flight to Angola every year. Even Mr Passos Coelho recommended that jobless teachers should "try Angola... where there's a huge demand for school educators".

Angola's numerous attractions include a shared language and an economy that has grown at around 10 per cent a year for the last decade. And, with illiteracy rates running at 40 per cent after after a prolonged civil war, there is a desperate need for all kinds of professionals. Media reports have mentioned salaries of up to €10,000 (£8,000) a month in the pharmaceutical industry.

Anglola's embassy in Lisbon cannot cope with the number of people applying for visas. But neither a lengthy application process, nor the long-haul flight, nor reports of street crime and extortionate food and rent prices in Angola's capital, Luanda, seem able to put off the Portuguese for now: a sign, perhaps, of what they are trying to escape.