Angola is rich with natural resources – diamonds, iron ore, copper, phosphates, uranium – and a seemingly endless supply of petroleum that positions Angola as the second-largest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, its people are among the continent’s poorest.
Time zone: GMT+1
Plugs: Round-pin attachment
Dialling code: +244
Currency: Kwanza – $1=97.5AOA
Language: Portuguese, Bantu, other African languages
Much of Angola’s poverty stems from a long and troubled history. The Portuguese established the strongest presence in the 16th century, ultimately ruling the nation as a formal Portuguese colony. The country eventually gained it s freedom in 1975. Unfortunately, that independence didn’t translate to peace, as political corruption and struggles for power persisted through a relentless and destructive 27-year civil war that finally ended in 2002.
As a result, much of the country’s infrastructure is still damaged or undeveloped. Still, Angola is rebuilding, in part thanks to a stability of leadership since the end of the war and subsequent elections in 2012 that reiterated the Angolan people’s commitment to peace.
However, the biggest influence in its rebuilding efforts has been the rise of international prices for oil, the backbone of its economy, helping Angola become one of the fastest growing economies on the continent. Yet, because oil makes up over 90% of the country’s exports, volatile global pricing can create instability. The 2008-2009 global financial crisis caused Angola’s economy to suffer, forcing the country to take a more robust approach to diversifying its interests in industries such as fisheries, mining and agriculture.
BUSINESS TRAVEL NEWS
In terms of supporting business t ravel, most of the growth is due to global TMCs establishing franchise representation in Angola. As more pressure is put on companies to support local initiatives, there is a shift towards considering local travel agents. Yet, despite there being over 100 registered travel agents, only about 20% are active and many are not able to support the extensive needs of corporate travel.
High demand in other industries has led to high growth in the number of hotels opening up, although despite this, prices remain high.
The airline industry is also growing and there have been new entrants to the market in the last two years, such as Iberia. Emirates has also increased its three-per-week frequency to a daily service. In addition, Turkish Airlines is also said to start operating to Luanda in the not too distant future. Flights are still delivering high yields, and Luanda remains one of the most profitable routes globally.
Luanda is the nation’s capital city and the economic centre of activity, along with its reputation as one of the world’s most expensive cities for expats.
Benguela is the second largest port of Angola and located approximately 500 kilometres from Luanda. This port will be the site for the first oil refinery built in Angola since the war.
Cabinda is an enclave to the north of the country bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is the heart of the Angolan oil and gas industry.
Also to the north is Soyo, the site of the Angola Liquefied Natural Gas plant.
Lubango in the south of the country is an important city, mainly due to significant agricultural and industrial operations.
Saurimo is the gateway to the miming fields in the north-east.
AIRLINES & AIRPORTS
The main airport in Angola , Luanda’s Quatro de Fevereiro International Airport, was upgraded in 2010 with bigger, more modern arrival and departure areas, along with increased check-in desks and additional luggage conveyors. Customs and immigration received equipment upgrades as well.
Despite these improvements, overall amenities are somewhat limited, and this airport will be replaced in the next two years by the new Angola International Airport currently under construction. The new airport will have two double runways, one with landing capacity for the Airbus A380.
Flag carrier TAAG Angola Airlines connects Luanda, Ondjiva, Cabinda, Lubango, Luena, Menongue, Namibe, Saurimo, Huambo, Kuito, Soyo, Catumbela and Malanje through an extensive domestic flight schedule.
Other cities with international airports are Benguela, Lubango and Cabinda.
Getting through customs and immigration at LAD is fairly straightforward, provided all your documents are in order, including a valid yellow fever vaccination certificate. LAD is fairly centrally located, and with traffic permitting, it shouldn’t take longer than 20 to 30 minutes to get to a hotel either in the CBD or the Luanda Sul/Talatona area. The domestic terminal is a five-minute ride away but, in peak times, it could take 45 minutes. The international departures hall has two business lounges and a limited number of duty free shops. One lounge is reserved for Business Class passengers and frequent flyer gold members only. The other is open to the public at a cost of $25 per person, which entitles you to two drinks or a toasted sandwich plus one drink.
A number of new hotels are being built and have recently opened, but demand still exceeds supply. As a general rule of thumb, the costs for a single room with bath start at $300 for 3-star accommodation and increase to about $500 per night at a 5-star hotel. These prices w ill change according to season and demand.
There’s not much room for negotiation, as most hotels run at very high occupancy rates. Prices are particularly high in Luanda, but are more affordable in the other provinces. There are no major international hotel chains in Luanda, but there are a number of non-branded hotels.
In the 5-star segment, there is the popular Epic Sana Hotel, located in the CBD, with excellent facilities; and the HCTA Talatona Convention Centre, approximately 15 kilometres from the airport and CBD.
The 4-star segment offers the Hotel Baia on t he sea front of Praia do Bispo; the recently refurbi shed Hotel Tropico in the CBD; Skyna Hotel with spacious rooms; Hotel Presidente on the Marginal of Luanda, opposite the port entrance; Hotel Alvalade approximately 15 minutes from the air port; the brand new, recently-opened Hotel Diamante close to the port of Luanda; and the Executive Hotel, which is recommended for passengers who need to stay overnight to travel the ne t day.
For those looking for 3-star accommodation, there is the Tropicana Aparthotel in the CBD, ideal for long stays as rooms resemble studio apartments; the Hotel Continental, close to the Cidade A lta (government institutions); the Ilha Mar Hotel on the Ilha of Luanda; the Hotel Piramide and the Golden Park Hotel in the CBD; the Royal Plaza Hotel in Talatona, and the Florenca Hotel, also in Talatona, across t he road from Belas shopping centre.
The national currency is the Angolan kwanza. Angola is a cash society – cards are something of a novelty, as many shops and restaurants do not have card facilities. The main cards accepted are Visa products. MasterCard is rarely accepted and there are no facilities existing for Diners Club or American Express. ATM distribution is improving, but the machines regularly run out of cash.
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. The costs of visas vary from country to country as well, but the average cost for a normal visa is about $100. All countries require visas to enter Angola, except Namibian passport holders.
You also need an international vaccination certificate for entry, indicating yellow fever inoculation within the last 10 years. Again, requirement s change and penalties for visa offences include fines, detention and deportation. So, travellers should check with their Angolan consulate.
You are advised to carry your identity documents with you at all times, in case you encounter a random police checkpoint.
There are more mobile telephones than fixed lines in Angola and connectivity is fairly good. The two main operators are Unitel and Movicel. Voice and data rates are expensive, so organising a local sim card is recommended.
Roaming costs are in the region of $35 per megabyte, billed per 10 kilobytes. Sim card costs will vary, but expect to pay from $30, plus airtime.
There are a few internet service providers in operation, and access is available at most major hotels. All hotels mentioned have Wi-Fi connectivity.
Yellow fever inoculations are compulsory. Malaria is endemic in most parts of Angola and precautions are also strongly recommended – usually a malarial prophylaxis a long with precautions against being bitten by mosquitoes. For longer visits, it is advised to be vaccinated against cholera, typhoid fever, polio, meningitis A and B, and tetanus. The water is not considered safe to drink, so only drink bottled water and avoid ice in your drinks, as well as eating unpeeled, unwashed fruit and vegetables.
Public hospitals are not of a good standard. There are one or two good private clinics in Luanda, but they are expensive and may require on-the-spot payment. Comprehensive medical insurance with provision for medical repatriation by air is recommended.
High levels of poverty mean crime is present, especially in Luanda and Cabinda. Most common is ‘street crime’, such as snatch and grab robberies and car jackings – especially in slow moving traffic. It is advised not to wear expensive watches or jewellery of any kind, and to be very mindful of your surroundings. It is not advised to walk about by yourself during the day or night.
Because water and power outages are frequent, visitors should ensure an emergency supply of water and pack a torch. Most residences have a generator. It is recommended to use voltage regulators to protect sensitive appliances from t he regular power surges, and UPS dev ices for computers and other electronics. Electricity is 220 volts, 50Hz. Round-pin Euro plugs are standard.
Generally, tipping isn’t encouraged, but a tip to hotel staff goes a long way. If restaurant service was especially good, you can add 10%. It is not standard to tip at bars or for taxis. The only time tipping is expected is on a guided tour, where you would tip 10% of the total to the guide and 5% to the driver.
It is illegal to leave the country with local currency, so make sure you change out any kwanza. If questioned by an official at the airport or land border, you will be expected to surrender the cash without compensation.
This profile was supplied by Wings TravelManagement
Contact: +27 11 292 5000
AREA MANAGER – ANGOLA, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT, OIL & GAS DIVISION, SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA
WINGS TRAVEL MANAGEMENT
Angolans are a friendly but proud nation, so it’s important to show them, their culture and their country respect.
I stayed at Hotel Tropico, located in the CBD. The property has recently been refurbished and remains one of Luanda’s most popular hotels.
It is an 11-story building with approximately 200 clean and comfortable twin rooms, featuring standard amenities such as a flat-screen T V, electronic safe, fruit and bottled water. In addition to conference rooms, the hotel has a business centre where you can access internet and webmail. There is a Wi-Fi hotspot, but signal strength is often very low. The hotel also boasts a swimming pool, jacuzzi, gym, boutique, shop, hairdresser, spa and lounge area. Food is expensive everywhere, and this hotel is no exception.
If you’re more adventurous, get out to one of the many restaurants on the Ilha or the Marginal, and try some of the Portuguese cuisine at restaurants like Coconuts, Bahia or Portofino. Just remember, a normal three-course dinner in Luanda can cost you anywhere from $80 to $100, excluding drinks!
Getting a sim card from the local network provider at the airport (Unitel) is highly recommended – everything is paid for in US dollars. You’ll need to check with your service provider before leaving home to ensure your mobile phone is “unlocked”. South African providers like MTN, Vodacom and Cell C will lock the cheaper brands of phones.
Traffic in Luanda has been described as organised chaos. A meeting with a client two kilometres away could take you up to two hours to reach. So, either arrange meetings at your hotel, or allow significant time to travel. You should be able to do four to five appointments a day.
The best advice is to get a driver, as the streets have no visible names and normal road traffic rules do not always apply.
On departure, make sure you get to the airport early. Check-in normally happens about three hours before departure. Frequent flyers – have your cards ready, as you will be allowed to check in at the Business Class counters, even
if you’re flying Economy. Be patient, don’t jump the queues, and be friendly. The security check process is also pretty slow.
When you are finished there, proceed upstairs to the departure lounge. There are a few duty free shops, a modern departure lounge hall and a little bar area – also fairly expensive.
Business Class and gold member passengers can make use of the TA AG Business Class lounge, but make sure you ask for an access voucher. Gold card members, note that you will not be allowed to take a guest with you, as space is limited.
Angola is an exciting, vibrant, emerging market. A smile and an attempt at a few basic words in Portuguese will go a long way. Above all else, be patient.
HOTELS – LUANDA
Epic Sana – luanda.epic.sanahotels.com
Executive Hotel Samba – executivehotelsamba.com
Golden Park – hotelgoldenpark.co.ao
Hotel Alvalade – tdhotels.com
Hotel Baia – tdhotels.com
Hotel Continental – hotelcontinentalluanda.com
Hotel Diamante – hoteldiamantedundo.com
Hotel Piramide – hotelpiramide.net
Hotel Presidente – hotelpresidenteluanda.com
Hotel Tropico – tdhotels.com
Ritz Victoria Garden – victoriagardenhotel.com
Royal Plaza – royalplazatalatona.com
Skyna – skynahotel.com
Talatona Convention – hoteltalatona.com
Tivoli – tivolihotel-angola.com
Tropicana Aparthotel – aparthoteltropicanaluanda.com
Air France – airfrance.com
Air Namibia – airnamibia.com.na
Arik – arikair.com
British Airways – ba.com
Brussels – brusselsairlines.com
Emirates – emirates.com
Ethiopian – ethiopianairlines.com
Iberia – iberia.com
Kenya – kenya-airways.com
KLM – klm.com
LAM – lam.co.mz
Lufthansa – lufthansa.com
SAA – flysaa.com
TAAG – taag.com
TAP – flytap.com
Access-to-Africa – access-to-africa.com
American Express – americanexpresstravel.co.za
CWT – carlsonwagonlit.com
FCm – fcm.travel
HRG – hrgworldwide.com
Wings – wings.travel
Avis – avis.com
Budget – budget.com
Europcar – europcar.com
Hertz – hertz.com