Immigration and Remittances flowing the “other way” — from Africa to Europe.
The Angolan Civil War was a major civil conflict in the Southern African state of Angola, beginning in 1975 and continuing, with some interludes, until 2002. The war began immediately after Angola became independent from Portugal in November 1975.
Prior to this, a decolonization conflict had taken place in 1974–75, following the Angolan War of Independence. The Civil War was primarily a struggle for power between two former liberation movements, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA). At the same time, it served as a surrogate battleground for the Cold War, due to heavy intervention by major opposing powers such as the Soviet Union and the United States.
Angola has emerged from a bloody civil war to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world. Billions have been invested in the oil-rich African republic. Many Portuguese law firms now see the country as central to their international strategies. But it presents risks as well as rewards.
Weird effects of a first-world depression: Portuguese are moving in ever-greater numbers to the country’s former colonies, Angola and Mozambique, and sending increasing amounts of money back home in the form of remittances.
Angola has again become Portugal’s El Dorado (the golden one) as unprecedented numbers of Portuguese workers have flocked to the former colony: from 2006 to 2009 alone the number of visas issued for Portuguese increased from 156 to 23,000.
Some already complain about difficulties in obtaining legal permissions to stay in Angola. The number of Portuguese workers settling in Mozambique has increased by more than 30 percent over the past two years. Angola is currently the third main source of remittances from Portuguese emigrants and accounted for 147 million Euros entering the Portuguese economy in 2011, according to figures published by the Bank of Portugal (BdP).
In a year in which total remittances from Portuguese emigrants remained almost the same as in 2010, the amount sent by Portuguese people residing in Angola rose by almost 10 percent. In the figures from the BdP, remittances from Portuguese emigrants to Angola in 2011 were substantially more than those from traditional Portuguese emigration markets, such as the United States (130 million Euros), Germany (113 million), Luxembourg (68 million) or Canada (40 million).
The main sources of remittances from emigrants continued to be France and Switzerland, two countries that together accounted for over half the cash sent to Portugal in 2011, with 868 million Euros in France’s case and 681 million Euros in Switzerland’s case.
Is this sudden rush by the Portuguese back to their former colony for employment and better living conditions justifiable? Which areas should the Angolan government be investing into? How can other African countries learn from this role reversal?
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