Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Angola TV to be Digitally Tuned!

Angola could become, in 2012, the first African country endowed with a state-of-art Japanese digital TV system to be installed within the framework of cooperation with the Country of Japan.The news of this project was confirmed on December 23 of last week by the Japanese ambassador to Angola, Ryozo Myoi, after meeting with the Vice President of Angola, Fernando da Piedade Dias dos Santos.  Japan has installed a similar system in Brazil in 2006, and represents the most advanced terms of television broadcast technology.    The project has been approved by the international telecommunications organizations and pending the finals approvals of the Angolan government, will be initiated in 2012.

The Japanese digital TV system called ISDB (Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting Terrestrial) is touted as the most flexible to respond better to the needs of mobility and portabilityIn addition to sending digital television signals,  the system allows transmission of data for mobile phones, computers and the websites of television programs, among other possibilities.The Japanese ambassador said, however, which are in final negotiations for an agreement on investment protection, considering the determinant to strengthen cooperation between the two countries.

Currently there are eight Japanese companies currently operating in Angola, but Ambassador Ryozo Myoi is confident that this number will increase rapidly with the signing of investment protection protocol, recognizing the market entry of Angolan banks into Japan. 
The diplomat said that Angola annually exports to Japan about 20 million dollars in oil, while the reverse turnover stands at 200 million, primarily in the motor vehicle trade.  

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Angolan Teeth Alterations

The practice of tooth filing and intentional tooth extraction is a longstanding cultural practice among some Angolan tribes, notable the Himba people living in the southern regions.

Anthropologists speculate that the Angolan teeth filing practice is a remarkable cultural hangover dating back to slavery. From 1575 onwards, Portuguese slavers shipped Angolans in shameful quantities to Brazil. As slaves were partly valued by the quality of their teeth, the local tribes took to intentionally despoiling their teeth to dissuade an attraction by Angolan slave gatherers. The practice still remains today, centuries after abolition.

Normally in Himba men, their two front incisors filed into a v-shaped notch revealing a triangular gap whenever they smile.  In Himba women, this ‘v’ is equally produced as well as the removal of the four central bottom front teeth.  Though the Himba women see these dental alterations as a feature of beauty, there is speculation that the bottom teeth are knocked out or filed to mimic that of a cow, in deference to their animistic cow worship rituals.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Angola's Queens of the Court

Basketball is Angola's most popular sport.  Angola’s female basketball team recently won the African Championship trophy in Mali qualifying them for the 2012 London Olympics. It was Angola’s first female continental basketball title and gained them automatic qualification for the London Olympic Games next year.

President José Eduardo dos Santos congratulated the team, describing the triumph as “a result of collective action and the victorious spirit of the Angolan people.”

The Angolan victory was all the sweeter as it came over Senegal, the reigning and ten-times champions of Afrobasket. On no fewer than five occasions, Angola’s best position in the competition had been third place, a feat repeated in the previous two championships.

Large crowds gathered at Luanda Airport for the team’s home- coming. Team captain Nacissela Maurício, trophy in hand, was first to emerge from the aircraft and led a 20-vehicle celebratory cavalcade in an open-top bus through the city, with hundreds of motorcyclists providing a noisy escort.

Nacissela was voted ‘most valued player’ in the championship and was also named a member of the competition’s dream team. (Sonangol Universo Magazine)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Angola Humor 6

See another example of a daily comic page from Journal de Angola, a daily Angola newspaper. This comic strip highlights the increasing rate of motorcycle accidents in Angola, which was recently rated as one of the highest accident rates in Africa.

Translation:  "The motorcycles never stop at red traffic lights!"
                                         "The bikers only stop at the cemetery!"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Angolan Christmas Tradition; 'Bolo-rei'

To celebrate the end of the year and the coming New Year, an Angolan Christmas tradition is the eating of ‘bolo-rei’ (translated ‘king-cake’);  a sweet, Portuguese cake.

The tradition of the bolo-rei began in France in the seventeenth century; it arrived in Portuguese lands in the late nineteenth century and never left.

The cake receipe is simple: a light yeast dough, filled with raisins, nuts and dried fruits, prepared in such a way as to resemble a crown. But it is laden with symbolism. The sweet that Portugal spread around the world (including towards Angola and Brazil) is an allusion to the three wise men (hence the form of a crown) and is stuffed with a fava bean and a present. The person “rewarded” with the slice containing the fava bean, it is usually designated to prepare the cake for the following year. Whoever receives the slice with the surprise has the right to make a special request and will have luck and wealth in that year.

Play and superstitions aside, the candy became a tradition and it begins to be eaten since the night of Christmas until the Three Kings’ Day, on January 6th. As a curiosity: the gâteau des rois, as the cake is called in France, is completely different as the French cake is made of puff pastry.  In spite of this, the legend surrounding its shape is the same. (TAAG Austral Magazine)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Big Oil!

On November 1, the Angolan Minister of Industry, Botelho de Vasconcelos, officially inaugurated the world's largest, floating oil platform in the world, named Pazflor.  Having a potential production capacity of 220,000 barrels of oil per day at a construction cost of some $9 billion, the unit is operated by the oil company Total.

Total began production on its new Pazflor project offshore Angola in August. Oil fields on the venture, which have estimated total reserves of 590m barrels, lie in water depths of between 600 and 1,200 metres and so add to Angola's growing list of deepwater and ultra-deepwater projects.
Standard oil rigs cannot be used in such deep water because they cannot be fixed to the sea bed and so oil companies use ships known as floating, production storage and offloading (FPSO) vessels to tap deepwater fields.

Oil is pumped up into FPSOs and then stored until it can be transferred to waiting oil tankers for distribution. Although expensive, such operations remove the need to pipe oil onshore for shipping and allow oil to be tapped in water depths that would otherwise be beyond conventional oil production methods.

According to Total, the FPSO on Pazflor is the biggest in the world, measuring 325 metres by 62 metres with a weight of more than 120,000 tonnes. With storage capacity of 1.9m barrels per day, it could hold Angola's entire production for a single day. 

Production will be gradually increased to 220,000 b/d on 49 wells. Total E&P Angola operates the project with a 40% stake, with the remaining equity held by Statoil (23.33%), Esso Exploration Angola (20%) and BP Exploration Angola (16.67%). Most of the world's biggest oil companies are involved in one jumbo Angolan oil project or another. (ANGOP, APA News southern Africa)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Angolan Goals to Eradicate Malaria

The Angolan Government recently set goals to eliminate malaria in Angola by the year 2020, through the use of a vaccine against the disease, as outlined in the capital Luanda by the deputy director of the National Program to Fight Malaria, Nilton Saraiva. 
The official was speaking during a November 17 meeting organized by Pathfinder International in partnership with Esso Angola, called "A healthy life without malaria", which was attended by senior officials of the Angolan Ministry of Health

Saraiva commented, "The malaria vaccine has is being tested in Africa. In Angola, can be developed over the next five or seven years and it will be an important method for our ultimate goal of eliminating the disease in the country over the next ten years.  While the whole country is endemic, a special concentration will be placed on malaria prevention amongst pregnant women.’

The maternal mortality ratio in Angola—1,400 women die per 100,000 live births—is the highest in Africa and the third highest in the world. Despite the toll that malaria exacts on pregnant women and their infants, it was, until recently, a relatively neglected problem. The Ministry of Health recently reported that malaria accounts for approximately 25% of maternal mortality and is the cause of nearly 10% of pregnant women’s hospital admissions.

Working with Pathfinder International, oil company Esso Angola is contributing greatly to this malaria eradication plan and has supported the fight against malaria in the country since 2002 by investing more than $ 24 million. Their contributions have improved patient care, reconstructed hospitals and implemented advance health care to combat malaria. (ANGOP, Pathfinder International)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Google In Angola

Google, the largest research company in the internet world, plans to soon open an office in Angola as confirmed by Google's vice president for Research and Development for Europe and Africa, Nelson Mattos.

Mattos emphasized that the purpose of Google in Angola is to develop policy which facilitates internet access to everyone without exception.  "We intend to increase the number of internet users in Angola to facilitate access to research," he said.  The company intends to make an investment in terms of infrastructure in partnership with the Angolan Government to bring new products which help the technological development of the country.
In Africa, only 9% of the population has internet access, while access in Europe and America reaches more than 80%.  The only African countries where Google has offices are South Africa, Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Egypt and Nigeria.

The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technologies in Angola, Pedro Teta responds, "We are hopeful that the new Google products that are launched in the Angolan market will generate results and spur the growth of IT companies operating in our country. (Angonoticias)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Historic City Series: Huambo

With its public parks, open-fronted villas and pavement cafés, Huambo has been said to feel more European than African. Add the Mediterranean climate and the tree-lined streets and you can see why the Portuguese called the city Nova Lisboa (New Lisbon) after their own capital.

Located in the country’s lush central highlands, among hundreds of thousands of hectares of rich agricultural land and connected to the coast by the Benguela railway, Huambo was once a wealthy and successful city and was even planned to replace Luanda as the country’s capital.
Huambo receives its name from Wambu, one of the 14 old Ovimbundu kingdoms of the central Angolan plateau. The Ovimbundus, an old tribe originally arrived from Eastern Africa, had founded their central kingdom of Bailundu early as the 15th century. Wambu was one of the smaller kingdoms and was hierarchically under the king of Bailundu and came of interest through the advent of the construction of the Benguela Railway by the Portuguese. Though the kings of Bailundu and Wambu (particularly Ekuikui II and Katiavala I) opposed the penetration of the railway by ambushing workers and settlers, they were eventually subdued by the Portuguese Army and Huambo was officially founded on 8 August 1912 by Portuguese General José Mendes Norton de Matos.

Huambo was found to be a strategic place for many reasons. A benign climate (greatly due to its high altitude, 1,700m) and the presence of abundant water resources in and around made of it an ideal spot to have a hub on the railway.  A rail system was devised by the British entrepreneur Sir Robert Williams as the easiest and cheapest way to link the rich copper mines of Katanga (Shaba) in Belgian Congo to the Angolan port of Lobito on the coast from which the mineral could be exported; the Lobito bay was admittedly the best natural seaport in the whole continent.
By the 1920s Huambo already was one of the main economic engines of Portuguese Angola. It had some important food processing plants, served as the main exporting point for the Province's considerable agricultural wealth and was also known by its numerous educational facilities, especially the Agricultural Research Institute (currently part of the Faculty of Agricultural Science).
Decades of war, however, stunted Huambo’s ambitions of greatness. The city was a major flashpoint between the ruling MPLA and the rebel group UNITA and it saw some of the worst fighting in the country. Its beautiful buildings were devastated, the countryside peppered with landmines, and hundreds of thousands of people were driven from their homes. 

In Huambo’s heyday during the 1960s, it was known as the “granary” of Angola and a major exporter of products such as beans and maize. The legacy of war and landmines still looms large in the province, however, and the majority of farming is subsistence and small scale. Analysts predict that it will take time to relaunch Huambo as a major agriculture exporter, but in the meantime the city is marketing itself as an eco-city.  Home to the country’s Institute of Agricultural Research and Faculty of Agricultural Science, Huambo is the national leader in environmental matters.

It also has the Casa Ecologia, an environmental study and education venue, and the park in the city center with its Estufa Fria (greenhouse), which is to be redeveloped and expanded to become a base for researching and preserving indigenous plants.

In another reinforcement of its ecological importance, the province has been chosen by the government to
pilot a project aimed at reducing land degradation. The scheme, in partnership with the Global Environment Facility and with input from the United Nations, aims to reduce unsustainable agriculture, stop deforestation, prevent overgrazing and promote better environmental practices, particularly among subsistence farmers.  (Wikipedia,  Sonangol Universo Magazine)