Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Luanda: World's Most Expensive City

The capital city of Angola, Luanda,  recently snatched the title of "most expensive city" away from better-known capitals such as London, Oslo and Tokyo, according to a number of international surveys. The survey measured the cost of food, basic items including drinks and tobacco, and other costs such as clothing and electrical goods.  A liter of imported milk is $5 and a can of locally produced Coke is $.90.

The tide of petrodollars surging into the once sleepy port has widened the gulf of disparity between the rich and the poor in the city and moreso in the whole country. More than three-quarters of Luanda's residents, nearly four million people, live in the informal settlements, and these are grim. Most have no sanitation services; people must buy water from tanker trucks for nearly $1 a bucket. Infant and maternal mortality rates are some of the worst in the world. Many of the slums have no schools; when they do, they lack teachers, desks and books.

What has risen most significantly is the cost of real estate. For sale in a mediocre neighbourhood of Luanda: pokey two-bedroom apartment in a Soviet-style 1960s apartment block, fourteenth floor, elevator last operated in 1990, erratic plumbing, no maintenance in the past 22 years. Asking $300,000 (U.S.) And that's about all you're going to get in Luanda for $300,000: any new one-bedroom apartment in this city starts at $1-million. (The Globe and Mail, September 9, 2009)

The rising cost of goods and land in Luanda directly impacts church activities.  More and more new and growing congregations are being pushed to the outer limits of the city in a quest to afford the rising cost of land.   Bare land that has been secured comes with the government caveat that a church building must be erected in certain period of time or else the land must be forfeited.  These are challenging, yet faith-building times for the Angolan Church.

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