Visiting Angola

Visa

Valid visa is essential for entering Angola. There is an Angolan Embassy in New Delhi (No 5, Poorvi Marg, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi – 110 057, Tel: +91-11-26146195, +91-11-26146197, Fax: +91-11-26146184, +91-11-26146190 Email:xietuang@del2.vsnl.net.in / angolaembassyindia@gmail.com) from where visas can be obtained. It is advisable for the first time visitors to ensure that travel is performed only after few days of obtaining the visa.  This is necessary as there have been cases of harassment at Angola immigration counters on the ground that the Angolan Embassy has not conveyed visa particulars to the immigration authorities in Angola. The sponser of visa is requested to submet detatils of visitors to immigration at least 72 hrs before travel and to avoid harassment at airport as in some cases the visitors despite having a valid visa may be detained at airport if sponsors have not submitted information.

Acccomodation:

Le Presidente Meridien, Tivoli, Tropico, Alvalade, Skyna are some of the better hotels in the 4 Star range in the city. Recently, some new hotels have been built in the outskirts of the city some of which were built for the Africa Foot Ball Cup of January 2010. All these hotels are expensive and offer a very ordinary service. The cost of a single room in most of these hotels is about US$ 400 per night and they are rarely available and most of the times are on block bookings by oil companies. Many times they are not even occupied and are paid for in the name of cost oil by major oil companies. Rentals for houses and apartments in Luanda are also very high. With the country striking rich in oil the arrival of mammoth oil companies and extravagantly paid expatriates, the rents have soared high but in the last couple of years the continuous increase in rentals have stabilized but in good areas the rents still remain high. It is not easy to get houses in central locations and when available they are very expensive.

Education

There is only one English medium school in Luanda - Luanda International School - upto grade VIII. There is a French-medium school up to XII grade. The International School  is very expensive and has a non-refundable deposit of US$ 100,000 per student in addition to tuition fees as high as $ 25,000 per year.
University Agostinho Neto is the only large and public university in Angola. There are also some private universities such as Catholic University of Angola, Universidade Independente  de  Angola and the  USAIDA University with limited intake.

Health

Medical facilities available to foreigners are somewhat limited. Oil and gas expatriates who work on 8 weeks work and four weeks holidays prefer to get their medical needs attended to in home countries. Brand new well equipped hospitals have been built that are used mainly by expatriates and very rich Angolans in emergencies. The quality of doctors and paramedics mainly of Cuban and Vietnamese origin are not satisfactory.

Food & Supplies

There are supermarkets which stock essential items. All essential items are not available all the time. These supermarkets charge more than the prevalent European prices for the same items. Vegetables like onions, cabbage, capsicum, carrots and egg plants are generally available. Toiletries, clothing and shoes are available but highly priced. Wheat flour and Lentils are rarely available and expensive.

Electricity supply is not regular and there are frequent outages. Rented properties normally have alternative generators of small capacity to cover lighting requirements. Water supply is often interrupted.

There are no repair facilities or technicians for household appliances. When available, spares and technicians are so expensive that it is more economical to purchase a new appliance rather than get the repairs done.

Security and Law and Order

Law and order situation in Luanda appears to be under control during the day and people usually do not venture out on foot in the night. However, cases of snatching, petty thefts do occur and more frequently before festivals and in certain areas of the city. In recent times, with more and more Angolans getting rich through rental incomes and services to multi-national oil companies, road side petty crimes have increased. People who use two wheelers for bank related work are regular victims.

Recreation facilities

There is a TV station in Angola with two channels and all programmes are in Portuguese. A private Portuguese channel “ZIMBO” entered the scene IN 2009. However, cable facilities are now available for international, including Asian, channels on payment basis. Internet facility is also available but because of low bandwidth the speed is less. There is a modern mini cinema complex and some screen English films. But the complex is located in the outskirts of Luanda and is accessible only by car.

Restaurants in Luanda are very expensive. A simple meal without alcohol/ wine can cost US $ 75 to 100 per person in a decent place. There are two Indian restaurants - both as expensive as other local restaurants. There is a golf club whose membership is difficult to get besides being expensive. It is more than two hours of drive from the city and is rarely used by any one as it is not a grass golf field. A new golf course is proposed for construction. There are no amusement parks, picnic spots, gardens in Luanda. The beach in Luanda is lined with expensive sea food restaurants including one of the two Indian restaurants. There are other beaches a few hours’ drive away from the city but are accessible only by car.

In Angola, 95% of the people speak Portuguese. Working knowledge of Portuguese is very helpful in social interactions. Further, to be effective in dealing with the daily life one needs to know decent Portuguese.

Indian Community

Indian community in Angola is small compared to other Southern African countries and comprises businessmen, professionals, skilled and semi-skilled workers engaged mainly in construction industry and several employees of trading companies. In addition, many professionals and skilled workers for service at off-shore oil fields and its facilities are assigned for short durations. Chartered accountants and Computer Software engineers are also tricking in. The restrictive visa regime is a major hurdle.  There are a large number of people of Indian origin who hold Passports of different nationalities including African nationalities most of whom are engaged in trading and construction businesses.

Indian Banks & other organisations

State Bank of India has been maintaining a representative office in Luanda since April 18, 2005 but closed now. Indian companies such as Tatas, Mahindra & Mahindra, and a number of other companies in the area of pharmaceuticals, paper, plastics and steel have had business interests in Angola for several years.

Air links Air connections from between India and Angola are via Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, Dubai or Johannesburg in South Africa.

Electricity The electricity current is 220/240 v 50 Hz

Telecommunications There are satisfactory facilities for internal and international telecommunications including internet connections through satellite.

Media Three Portuguese language dailies viz. Journal de Angola which is State owned, Folha 8 and Journal EME are published from Luanda.
Three TV stations and nine radio stations regularly broadcast programmes, in Portuguese language.