Sunday, September 4, 2011

Emigration Role Reversal

During the height of Angola's civil war, many Angolans fled for safety to Portugal, the African country's old colonialist and imperial power.  Given the commonality of language, burgeoning economy and job opportunities in Portugal during the 70's to 90's, many Angolans prospered well.

Now in a reversal of traditional migration patterns, thousands of young unemployed professionals are escaping Portugal's crippling economic crisis by finding jobs in the former colony of Angola.  In the midst of national economic restructuring, Portugal's youth unemployment rate is 26.8%, with more than 95,000 people jobless between the ages of 16 and 25; many of the migrating, skilled youth have masters and PhD degrees that are valuable in a developing Angola that needs skilled people to rebuild its infrastructure.

Portugal’s foreign ministry says it registered 45,000 Portuguese citizens as resident in Angola in 2007-08. A year later the figure had jumped to 92,000. Today over 3,000 Portuguese companies operate in Angola and many of the Portuguese building companies such as Teixeira Duarte, Soares de Costa and Mota Engil have been switching from the home market to Angola’s to take advantage of Angola’s burgeoning economy.

In another reversal, an economic one, now Angolan state and private investors are eyeing Portugal’s assets recently freed up through Portugal’s privatization plans.  Recently, the IMF made the sale of BPN, a national bank, a condition for Portugal to get its recent financial bail-out. Other large Portuguese energy, mining and banking firms are under scrutiny for purchase by wealthy Angolan state and private investors. (Excerpts from BBC Report and The Economist)

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