Angola

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Previously one of the world’s fastest growing economies, Angola felt the effects of the global economic downturn in 2009. Yet, it remains one of the continent’s major oil producers and an African country that many international investors would like a piece of.

Background

Despite a pervading culture of corruption and political patronage, the country remains one of the most important business destinations in Africa, thanks to its vast natural resources. Angola’s enormous oil reserves ensure it jockeys with Nigeria as the continent’s largest producer, and there are substantial gold and diamond deposits in the north-east. Along with deposits of iron ore and uranium, it’s perhaps no surprise that Angola has become China’s largest trading partner in Africa, and its largest single supplier of oil.

Business Travel Activity

Arik Air became the first Nigerian carrier to operate scheduled flights between Lagos and Luanda in February 2012. As a result, passengers on Arik’s international routes from London, Dakar, Accra and Cotonou are able to connect onwards to Luanda with connections in both directions. That was followed in May with the Air France-KLM news that KLM had begun operating scheduled service between Amsterdam and Luanda, resulting in four weekly services from Paris and Amsterdam to the Angolan capital. Perhaps even more significantly, Luanda is on the radar of new African budget airline fastjet, which has taken over previous entity Fly540. Fastjet commenced domestic operations out of Dar es Salaam in late November 2012, but plans to set up bases in Nairobi, Accra and Luanda in 2013.

Airport

Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport has a number of direct services connecting the city to destinations across North America, Europe and Africa. Although the airport is just six kilometres from the city centre, the capital’s notorious traffic means it’s a good idea to allow plenty of time to get into the city, or to check-in for your departing flight. A new international airport is under construction 40 kilometres south of the city, but is not expected to open before 2013.

“It’s a modern airport, but with basic facilities,” says Shelley Summers, General Manager: American Express – Africa, Oil & Gas Division. “The international arrivals terminal is small, so one aircraft-load of passengers fills it quite easily. Queues at immigration are long and the whole exit process can take up to three hours, depending on the arrival time of your flight. Unlike other African countries, ‘Meet and Assist’ is not permitted by Angolan law. So, the opportunity of avoiding the long queue and heat does not exist.” Note that you will be asked for a yellow fever certificate, and as with many African airports, be prepared for those looking for a handout.

“There is too much security and other people trying to get their hands on cash,” says Ines Braendle, General Manager: Angola – Lufthansa German Airlines. “Don’t pay anything!” she warns. “If you’re looking for a taxi at the airport, Afri Taxi is new and reliable, charging about 15-20 US dollars.”

“Check in for your return flight at least three hours before the scheduled departure of your flight, to allow enough time for security checks and passport control,” says Summers. “Paid airport lounge facilities are available at the gates, but on departure, once you have passed through security and immigration, you are taken into a small room and questioned about the amount of cash you are travelling with. You are not permitted to leave Angola with more than USD15,000, which will be confiscated should this be the case.”

Visas

Almost all nationalities require a visa to enter Angola, and processing can be incredibly slow. Allow for at least four weeks. There’s a lot of paperwork and you’ll need a letter of invitation from an Angolan company, along with a copy of their company registration documents, as well as a letter confirming your employment. These must all be written in Portuguese. In addition, you’ll need the standard passport, copy of your passport, two photos and proof of your flight reservation. Only single entry visas are available and they cost around R750.

Connectivity

Internet and reliable mobile phone coverage is limited to Luanda and the surrounding areas. There are a few Internet cafés in Luanda, but access outside of the capital is limited.

Hotels

Be warned – Luanda has some of the most expensive hotels in the world, in relation to what you get for your money. The well-known ones are the Hotel Presidente, Hotel Tropico, Hotel Alvalade, Hotel Skyna and the Talatona Convention Hotel. Hotel Presidente is the capital’s best-known hotel, was refurbished in 2011, and offers a central location, sea views and free Internet. But not everyone is convinced of its quality.

“Avoid the Presidente like the plague – it is terrible,” says Trevor Ward, MD of W Hospitality Group. “The two new hotels in town are the Hotel Baia and the Epic Sana. Both are modern and well managed.  The Continental Hotel is unpretentious and very good value for money.” Hotel Alvalade is situated close to the airport and is a good choice if you’re on a flying visit, with spacious rooms, rooftop swimming pool and free Wi-Fi. “There are plenty of big, international hotels, but they are all very expensive, around 400 US dollars,” says Braendle.

The Talatona Convention Hotel is 5-star, but it’s up to 90 minutes’ drive from the city, in Luanda Sul. It’s only recommended if your meetings are taking place there,” says Braendle.

Travel Tips

Money – It’s best to only change dollars into Kwanza in small amounts, as and when you need them. Dollars can be changed at hotels and banks, although you’ll get a better rate on the (widely-used) black market. If you decide to go this route, ask a local or your driver for a reliable moneychanger. Visa cards can be used at international hotels and some restaurants. They can also be used to draw cash at ATMs, although compliant ATMs are limited and often run out of bills.

Out & About – Unless you speak Portuguese, avoid walking around Luanda at night and – as always – it’s best to ask for local advice on no-go areas. However, don’t be afraid to leave your hotel, as the local restaurants offer far better value and atmosphere than most hotel eateries.

Getting Around

It’s best to ask your Angolan host company to arrange airport transfers, or alternatively book a shuttle service with a reputable hotel. International car rental agencies at Luanda’s airport offer hire cars with local drivers, which is your best option. Traffic in Luanda is best described as organised chaos, so self-drive is not an option. Taxi services are limited.

“Make sure you have the name and the number of the driver before you arrive, as drivers are normally not on time,” says Summers. “Parking is extremely scarce in Angola and the congestion and chaos on the roads makes for a more pleasant experience if you are not driving yourself.”

Health
Malaria prophylactics are essential in Angola, as malaria is widespread. Proof of yellow fever vaccination is also required, and remember that vaccination must be done more than 10 days before you travel. Consult your travel doctor three weeks prior to travel for professional advice.

The Experience

“The seafood in Luanda is the best item to order off the menu, as it is fresh from the sea,” says Summers. “There is a lovely island strip – the Ilha – with amazing restaurants, and depending on which side of the island you dine, you either experience views of the city and harbour or views of the ocean.”

“Luanda is extremely expensive, but there are signs that the prices are on the way down, as competition increases, and more locally-produced food becomes available,” says Ward. “The Ilha is the place to be in the evenings, or go there at lunchtimes for some good meal deals.”

 Contacts

angola.org

Fact File

Capital: Luanda
Population:
19 million
Time zone: GMT+1
Plugs: Two-prong round
Dialling code: +244
Currency: Angolan Kwanza and US dollars. Exchange rate: US$1=95AOA
Language: Portuguese

Air Travel

Air Namibia – airnamibia.com.na
Arik Air – arikair.com
BA – ba.com
Brussels Airline – brusselsairline.com
Emirates – emirates.com
Ethiopian Airlines – flyethiopian.com
Iberia – iberia.com
Kenya Airways – kenya-airways.com
KLM – klm.com
LAM – lam.co.mz
Lufthansa – lufthansa.com
SAA – flysaa.com
TAAG – taag.com

Hotels

Epic Sana – luanda.epic.sanahotels.com
Hotel Alvalade – tdhotels.com
Hotel Baia – tdhotels.com
Hotel Continental – hotelcontinentalluanda.com
Hotel Presidente – hotelpresidente.com
Hotel Skyna – skynahotel.com
Hotel Tropico – tdhotels.com
Talatona Convention Hotel – hoteltalatona.com

Car Rental

Avis – avis.co.za
Enterprise – enterprise.com
Europcar – europcar.com
Hertz – hertz.com
Sixt – sixt.com

TMC

Access to Africa – access-to-africa.com
Carlson Wagonlit – carlsonwagonlit.com
Club Travel – clubcorporatetravel.co.za
HRG – hrgworldwide.com
Sure Travel – suretravel.co.za
Tourvest – tourvest.co.za
Wings – wings.travel

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