1 Empirical and Theoretical Background

1.1 Historical Relations and Migrations Between Portugal and Angola

It is impossible to think about current Portuguese emigration without thinking of Angola which, both as an independent country and a former colony, has played an important role in the history of migration from Portugal. After 2004–2005, when emigration to the country began to increase again, Angola became one of Portuguese emigrants’ main destinations. Despite the scarcity of statistical data, we know that Angola retained this status until 2013, after which it lost significance in absolute and relative terms, basically owing to its weakening economic growth and to the increasing difficulties associated with immigration and expatriation of capital in foreign currencies.

Certain characteristics distinguish Portuguese emigration to Angola from Portuguese emigration to other countries in the Global South, including, for example, Brazil and Mozambique. These result from the close, long-standing historical ties that exist between Portugal and Angola – notwithstanding the moments of tension and reconciliation inherent in the complex relationship that developed between the two as a result of the lengthy colonial period. Angola was Portugal’s oldest and largest colony in Africa, and it experienced a large influx of Portuguese colonists during the 1950s and 1960s (Castelo 2007; Santos 2013). Considered the “jewel in the crown” during the final stage of Portuguese colonialism, it was the last colony to attain its independence (November 1975). One of the most significant immediate outcomes of the decolonisation process was the return to Portugal of more than 300,000 people (Pires 2003, 189), a number that increased during the following years with the arrival not only of the so-called returnees (retornados)Footnote 1, but also Angolans who were seeking better living conditions well away from the civil war that began soon after independence and was to last until 2002. During this period, the inverse process, that is, Portuguese emigration to Angola, was practically non-existent. The exception lay in some solidarity workers or “cooperantes” settling in the country for fixed periods determined by their labour agreements (Pereira 1991). Furthermore, during this period, a number of small-scale entrepreneurs and shop owners stayed behind in Angola and made the new country their home (Galito 2015; Santos 2013).

The end of the civil war and the establishment of peace in 2002 provided the necessary conditions for substantial changes in the country. In political terms, democratisation was made a priority. In social terms, it was necessary to provide social and medical assistance to the population, which had suffered in the war. In economic terms, market-economy principles were introduced and applied with the supposed objective of stimulating production and distribution so as to lessen the country’s external dependency. Therefore, the years following the end of the war were characterised by measures to reunite families and repatriate populations to their birthplaces after landmines had been removed. Economic growth was stimulated by rebuilding infrastructure (roads, bridges, railway lines, buildings, etc.) which had been destroyed. This process has encouraged the interest and presence of foreign companies, with consequences for both investment and immigration – and particularly for the arrival of highly and technically skilled migrants.

1.2 Political, Social, Demographic and Economic Aspects

The end of the civil war and the maintenance of political stability under the almost exclusive control of a single political party and its eliteFootnote 2 paved the way for social change. Peace gave Angolan families the chance to reunite and allowed them to move away in search of greater security. Poverty was also reduced (from 68% of the population in 2001 to 37% in 2009 according to INE – Statistics Angola 2010), although, for most of the population, generalised deprivation as well as deep-reaching social inequalities remain important realities. In fact, the 2015 World Bank Report stated that 43% of the population lived on less than 1.25 dollars a day (World Bank 2015).

Until the beginning of the present decade, the last census in Angola dated back to 1970, during the final stage of the colonial period. Since then, the instability caused as much by the colonial war/the liberation struggle as by the civil war made holding a new general census of the population extremely difficult. Therefore, a new census was only carried out in 2014. The preliminary results of this census show that Angola’s population – 24.4 million people in total – is largely young, and the majority (62%) live in urban areas. 27% of Angola’s inhabitants are concentrated in Luanda province, in which the capital city is located (INE – Statistics Angola 2014).

The end of the civil war led to measures aimed at revitalising the economy (Ferreira and Gonçalves 2009; HRW 2010; Rocha 2013). To this effect, Angola’s government opted for “an economic model situated between a centrally planned economy and a market economy” (Rodríguez et al. 2014, 105). In the years after 2005, the country became one of the world’s most dynamic economies, registering growth of 20.6% GNP in 2005, 18.6% in 2006 and approximately 27% in 2007 (OECD 2010, 40).

Economic growth remained high until 2008, mainly due to the increase in oil productionFootnote 3, which benefitted from high transaction prices on the international market. In 2009, following the global economic crisis, Angola entered a period of recession and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) awarded a loan of 1.4 thousand million dollars to the Angolan government (Jornal de Negócios, August 29, 2012).Footnote 4 From 2010 to 2014 the Angolan economy made a comeback, although at slower rate than before.

It should be noted that economic growth has persisted mainly due to activities that exploit the country’s natural resources (Jover et al. 2012; Rocha 2013; Schubert 2010), particularly oil production (in 2008 it made up approximately “91% of Angola’s exports” – Santos 2012, 32 – increasing to 98% in 2012). In addition, 80% of Angola’s public fiscal revenues also come from oil production (Jover et al. 2012, 7). Moreover, Angola is the fifth oil-producing country in the world and the second oil exporter in Africa (Rocha 2014, 12).

Despite its sizable economic growth and the development of the oil production sector, the Angolan economy is characterised by a very high level of informality that has increased during the last few years due to the social imbalances and employment constraints associated with expanding market economies. The informal sector – which is characterised by its heterogeneity and its dynamism is responsible for the livelihood of the Angolan population and plays a highly significant role in the country’s economy (Lopes 2002). Therefore merely analysing the indicators connected with Angola’s formal economy – such as the unemployment rate or formal registered wages – is both incomplete and inaccurate.

1.3 Portuguese Emigration to Angola: An Introduction to Factors of Attraction

As mentioned above, after 2004–2005 there was a significant increase of Portuguese emigration to Angola in general, and Luanda in particular. According to data on Portuguese emigrants’ arrivals compiled by the Portuguese Emigration Observatory (Observatório da Emigração) in 2015, Angola was still the fourth most popular destination for Portuguese emigrants – despite a dip in flows after 2012 (Pires et al. 2016) Footnote 5. The dynamism of the Angolan economy – associated with the country’s physical rebuilding and its stronger financial and commercial ties with Portugal – was among the structural factors that contributed most to consolidating Angola’s attractiveness as a destination country. Its aforementioned economic growth – which mainly took place during the second half of this century’s first decade – attracted Portuguese investment. A scarcity of skilled human resources in Angola also helped drive an increase in emigration flows. It is also worth pointing out that, with commercial relations cemented between Angolan and Portuguese businesses, it has become a common practice for Portuguese companies – particularly the larger ones – to open branches in Angola in such sectors as banking, the construction industry and telecommunications. Accordingly, the recruitment of Portuguese staff occurred along two fronts: by Portuguese companies, which transferred both highly qualified professionals as well as less skilled workers to Angola, and by Angolan firms, which selected Portuguese nationals to occupy top positions (Åkesson 2016).

If the structural reasons for this increase in emigration are predominantly economic, they cannot help but intermesh with Portugal’s status as Angola’s former colonial metropolis, which justifies a long and well established relational framework grounded in profound mutual acknowledgment. At an individual level, the former colony’s status explains the transnational ties left over from colonial days. These ties were reactivated by both the returnees and their descendants after the civil war had ended (Santos 2013).

In some cases, there is the additional factor of dual nationality. Many Portuguese emigrants heading to Angola already have some prior relationship with the country, either because they were born there and left while still young, or because they have family ties to the country that give rise to post-memory.Footnote 6 Legally, this allows them to acquire Angolan nationality – an essential condition for getting a job owing to the difficulty of obtaining a work permit.

In cultural terms, Lusophony may also act as a factor attracting not only Portuguese nationals but also Brazilians and citizens coming from other Portuguese-speaking African countries because it makes communication easier.

Finally, we should note the role of social networking in the generation and maintenance of these migration flows. The fact that most Angolan and Portuguese emigrants chose Portugal as their destination when they left Angola in search of better living conditions gave rise to a closer connection between the two states. Portugal is clearly a key destination for Angolans because many of them have family or friends living there. Moreover, the similarity between the countries’ educational systems leads many Angolan students to choose to pursue their studies at Portuguese higher education institutions, thus helping to generate social networks that are often maintained after the students have returned to Angola (Liberato 2013).

In this context it is not surprising that, at the turn of the millennium, Angola was one of the three African countries with the highest number of Portuguese residents, together with Mozambique and South Africa (Ferreira 2001). We should note the duality of current Portuguese emigration to Angola: on the one hand, there are the middle-class expatriates who often have high levels of technical training as well as very highly-skilled professionals living in luxury housing and hotels whose expenses are paid by the companies employing them; on the other hand, there are some traditional low-skilled working-class emigrants (Santos 2013). A recent survey-based study of the socio-demographic profiles of Portuguese emigrants residing in Angola (Sangreman et al. 2015) indicates that the population is mostly adult, male and with higher-education qualifications.

Undertaking research about Angola is a challenge due to the fact that “data from and about Angola are scarce” (Jover et al. 2012, 4). The civil war, the post-independence socialist-oriented political system, a scarcity of human resources, the destruction of infrastructure and the enforced removal of local populations are only some of the factors that have prevented broad, systematic statistical data from being produced. This continues to be the case because state agencies still follow practices designed for collecting information for themselves rather than making it available to the public. Angola’s war and its political model discouraged the dissemination of information based in the argument that doing so would jeopardise the efficiency and the efficacy of Government’s activities.

Due to this state of affairs, together with other factors such as the recency of the increase in migration, academia still knows very little about contemporary Portuguese emigration to Angola. In a review of 806 academic publications about Portuguese emigration published between 1980 and 2013, Angola was one of the least-studied countries (Candeias et al. 2014, 21).

1.4 Theoretical Challenges to Portuguese Emigration to Angola

Portuguese emigration to Angola can understood as part of a new, post-colonial, work-related type of migration that characterises contemporary North-South flows (Santos 2013). Studies in this area are, for the most part, yet to be undertaken. According to some estimates, these North-South flows make up 3–6% of total global emigration (Laczko and Brian 2013). Though some of these flows consist of Portuguese emigration to Angola, Mozambique and Brazil, similar movements originate from other countries in the North and flow to other countries in the South– e.g. Spanish emigrants going to Ecuador, Mexico or Argentina.

Migrations to the South take place as a result of the increasing global integration of Southern countries’ financial and commercial systems – as well as their labour markets – and the consequent global economic and political significance of certain countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. If the BRICS located in the South (Brazil, India, China and South Africa) provide the best example of this process – combining physical and economic modernisation with very competitive dynamic urban regions and the availability of relatively abundant although disputed natural resources – it is possible to identify similar situations in several other smaller countries. Various studies undertaken during the last few years have pointed to a process of economic recovery and progressive integration into global economic systems experienced by African countries since the start of the twenty-first century. Evidence of this process includes: a high mean GDP growth rate (higher than the mean world rate); a fall in the levels of absolute poverty; a notable increase in foreign investment; an integration in the ICT value chain, for instance due to coltan production; a greater involvement in world trade, albeit largely based on raw materials, and a reorientation of economic relations to Asian markets (Jerven 2010; Carmody 2010; Africa in Progress Report 2013).

Greater economic dynamism, more investment and an higher involvement in the global circulation systems has inevitably meant more migration – both more people leaving Africa, but also more people coming to the continent. These two kinds of movement are connected: some of the migrants wanting to go to Africa may be African born people – who may even have changed their nationality – returning to their original birthplace, or eventually their descendants.

Rising unemployment caused by the economic recession that started in 2008 in fact primarily affected immigrants who had settled in Europe and the USA, as the data published by the OECD-SOPEMI show (OECD 2012). This underpinned an increase in return movements (Laczko and Brian 2013) that was also driven by the lower impact of the recession in several African countries. Despite these findings, it is vital to understand whether the North-South economic migrations that have grown during the last few years are more than just a process of cyclical response and whether they will assume a more structural and permanent nature. It is therefore necessary to study these migrations’ characteristics and identify the factors that may lead to their sustainability.

Migratory flows to Angola may further be interpreted in the light of migratory systems theory (Zlotnik 1992), namely by situating this movement in a broader system of relations often called the Lusophone migratory system. The concept was coined by Peixoto (2004) in order to classify migration to Portugal from Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking African countries (Países Africanos da Língua Oficial Portuguesa – PALOP) and later elaborated upon by Malheiros (2005). However, like any other country, Portugal belongs to more than one migratory system (Baganha 2009).

To begin with, the Lusophone migratory system only consisted of Portugal and Brazil, but after the 1974 Revolution in Portugal it extended to the former colonies (Baganha 2009). This system was distinguished by the bidirectional nature of its flows (Góis and Marques 2009). It is this characteristic that, according to migratory systems theory, would explain the fall in migration from Angola to Portugal and the current inversion in the direction of migratory flows. On this model, Portugal would behave as a semi-peripheral country as defined by world systems theory; but according to new refinements of this theory, its status as a semi-peripheral country might change depending on the context (Góis and Marques 2009). In more recent studies, the Lusophone migratory system has been considered a three-pronged system containing three nodes: Portugal, Brazil and Angola (Marques and Góis 2012).

2 Portuguese Emigration to Angola in the Statistics

Notwithstanding the scarcity of statistical data about the Portuguese and other foreigners in Angola, it is possible to collect some data that allow us to learn, even if sketchily, how many Portuguese emigrants have made Angola their destination. The total resident Portuguese population in Angola (Table 11.1) increased by about 78% between the start of the 1990s and 2010, while during the same period the foreign population nearly doubled (an increase of 95%). However, in relative terms, the growth in the foreign population led to it increasing only very slightly as a proportion of the total number of residents in Angola: from 0.31% in 1990, to 0.34% in 2010.

Table 11.1 Resident population and foreign-born population, 1990–2014

A preliminary analysis of the foreign population with resident or work permits in Angola by continent of origin, allow us to draw up an initial profile. From 2008 to 2010, almost all the large groups of foreign-born nationals increased in size, with Asian immigrants the largest contingent (more than 50% of the total). From 2010 to 2011, the size of the various groups of foreign nationals stabilised (Fig. 11.1).

Fig. 11.1
A line graph traces the population holding work permits in Asia, Europe, America, and Africa over the years from 2008 to 2011. There is a linear growth from 2008 to 2010, and it is stable from 2010 to 2011.

Population holding a residence or work permit by year and continent of origin.Source: Migration and Foreigners Service, Ministry of the Interior, Angola (INE – Statistics Angola, 2013 pp.28–29) (Authors’ calculations). Available at: http://www.ine.gov.ao/xportal/xmain?xpid=ine&xpgid=publications_detail&publications_detail_qry=BOUI=30173945

If these data are broken down by nationality (Table 11.2), it can be seen that a high number of immigrants come from China, Portugal and Brazil. In 2011, Chinese immigrants accounted for 47% of the work or residence visas issued, while the Portuguese accounted for 13% and the Brazilians 19%. In the 4 years under study, the number of permits issued to Portuguese citizens tripled. Nevertheless, the highest increase was not registered among Portuguese nationals but rather among Indian citizens whose numbers in 2011 had increased fivefold when compared with 2008. The number of Philippine, Vietnamese and South African nationals multiplied by more than four in this period.

Table 11.2 Population holding a residence or work permit/visa between 2008 and 2011

Data about the visas issued shows that immigration to Angola has a marked South-South component involving three of the BRICS in particular: China, Brazil and South Africa. Moreover, other Asian countries deserve mention – particularly India, the Philippines and Vietnam, each of which account for about 3% of visas – as well as Cuba. On the other hand, in 2011, documented African immigrantsFootnote 7 comprised less than 10% of the foreign population. Almost half of them come from South Africa, while age-old inter-colonial relations – especially with the São Tomé and Principe islands and the Cape Verde archipelago – also carry some weight, accounting for 22% and 11% respectively of African immigration.

Meanwhile the majority of legal North-South migratory flows consist of European emigrants (19% of the total in 2011) among which the Portuguese predominated (70% of the Europeans), followed by the French (15%) and the British (10%). It should be noted that from 2008 onwards the Portuguese overtook the Brazilians as the second most numerous foreign presence, at least as far as legal immigration is concerned.Footnote 8

Data based on registrations made at the Portuguese consulates (Table 11.3) are fairly restricted and only cover a reduced period of time (8 years). During this period, the number of registrations increased from about 73,000 Portuguese emigrants in 2008 to more than 134,000 in 2015, which represents an increase of about 85%. It should be pointed out that in the first half of this period (2008–2012), the growth rate (an annual mean of 14%) was much sharper than that of the second half (2012–2015), when a mere 6.3% average annual growth was registered. This backs up what was stated above about a reduction in Portuguese migration to Angola. The discrepancy between the official Angolan statistics and the Portuguese consular registers is due to some limitations associated with both sources. First, work visas are only one of various types of visa that allow emigrants to stay in Angolan territory. Although it is the visa corresponding to labour immigration, this does not prevent migrants from entering the country with other types of visa such as the temporary stay or privilegiados (entrepreneurs’) visas. Consular records also have some limitations, not only because registration is not compulsory but especially because of difficulties in updating information. File clearing in particular seems to be slow and several Portuguese nationals who have left Angola are still registered. Furthermore, double registration at two consulates (Benguela and Luanda) may also occur (Galito 2015). Finally, the higher number of consular records may also result from the registration of individuals with dual nationality, who do not count for Angolan foreigner’s statistics but who nonetheless register at the Portuguese consulate.

Table 11.3 Consular registrations of Portuguese emigrants, 2008 to 2015

3 Current Portuguese Emigration to Angola – Processes and Characteristics

While existing empirical data may help to give an overview of the Angolan context that frames and to a certain extent explains contemporary Portuguese emigration to this country, detailed studies on the topic are still very scarce.

Owing to the fact that Angola has become the main destination of contemporary extra-continental Portuguese emigration, we believe that it is essential to deal with this phenomenon directly and examine it more deeply. We therefore need to accept that we are dealing with a migration flow that has distinct features when compared with emigration to European destinations and even to Brazil, although it shares with both Brazil and Mozambique the characteristic of being “emigration to former colonies of the South”. To treat Portuguese emigration to Angola as a specific phenomenon, the study has been structured around four fundamental themes: (i) the relationship between macroeconomic dynamics and emigration; (ii) identifying the specific characteristics of the emigrants; (iii) the post-colonial nature of emigration and its possible link to the past, and (iv) the limits to “integration” (in Angola) and the “orientation” towards Portugal.

The empirical material used to examine these themes derives from the questionnaire-survey run by the project “REMIGR-Portuguese emigration and relations with the country of origin” (Peixoto et al. 2016). This was designed to study all Portuguese people (both Portuguese nationals and/or Portuguese-born emigrants) who had been living outside the country for a period exceeding 3 months. The sampling process consisted of what might be considered convenience sampling, as criteria of randomness were not applied, nor were attempts made to obtain a statistically representative sample.

Fieldwork was carried out between May 2014 and May 2015. The questionnaires were completed both online and in hard copy in a traditional face-to-face setting. The online version received 4428 responses from around 100 countries. The paper version, distributed in France, the UK, Luxembourg, Brazil, Angola and Mozambique, was answered by 1658 people.

The strategy of employing online surveys is justified by its ease of implementation from Portugal and also by the reduction of costs when compared to face-to-face surveys. However, this technique is not without limitations, the most significant being the over-representation of highly qualified emigrants. Thus conducting face-to-face surveys was aimed at compensating for this over-representation.

579 questionnaires were answered by emigrants living in Angola. Of these, 349 (60%) were in hard copy. Although some of the questionnaires (23) were answered in the Angolan Consulate in Lisbon, the survey was conducted almost exclusively in Angola and predominantly in three provinces; Benguela, Huíla and Luanda (74% of the face-to-face questionnaires were conducted in the province of Luanda). Although Luanda accounted for a large proportion of the online questionnaires completed, the digital version managed to reach almost all the other provinces in Angola (Table 11.4).

Table 11.4 Distribution of the sample according to province and version

4 Macroeconomic Dynamics and Emigration to Angola

First, it is our intention to test the effect of contextual macroeconomic factors (at source and in the destination country) on emigration to Angola. Our hypothesis is based on Lee’s proposal (1966: 53) that “the volume of migration varies with fluctuations in the economy”. This hypothesis was tested by Jerome (1926)Footnote 9, who saw that fluctuations in migration resulted largely from changing economic conditions in the country of origin or destination. Similar studies have demonstrated that in the case of Latvia, for example, recent emigration can be explained by macroeconomic factors such as a fall in exports and foreign investment, but also by a decrease in public spending and a drop in domestic consumption (Apsite et al. 2012).

In our case, the following indicators associated with macroeconomic components have been taken into account: in Portugal, the variation in the GDP growth rate and the unemployment rate; in Angola, the GDP growth rate and the date of emigrant arrivals (Fig. 11.2).

Fig. 11.2
A line graph plots the year of the respondent's arrival, the unemployment rate in Portugal, and G D P growth rate in Angola and in Portugal over the years from 2000 to 2014. The unemployment rate ascends. The G D P growth rate in Portugal declines while that in Angola goes through several peaks.

GDP growth rate and unemployment rate in Portugal; GDP growth rate and year of arrival in Angola (%).Sources: Pordata-Unemployment Rates (See: www.pordata.pt), GDP Growth Rates -World Bank (See: www.worldbank.org/), Percentage of survey responses according to year of arrival – Survey of Portuguese Nationals Abroad – REMIGR Project

According to Fig. 11.2, annual arrivals in Angola are negatively correlated with Portugal’s GDP growth rate and follow the increase in Portugal’s unemployment rate, directly and very clearly. This seems to show that emigration occurs more as a result of concrete factors such as lack of employment rather than economic growth in general (although both contextual factors interact). Similar results were found in a study on immigration to the United Kingdom where the same factors were tested (Dobson et al. 2009).

However, the relationship between growth in Angolan GDP and the arrival of Portuguese nationals in this country seems less clear. Despite the fact that between 2009 and 2014 both measures surged and later declined, the correlation was not statistically relevant. This may be due to the high oscillations observed, especially the drop that occurred between 2007 and 2009.

Therefore, in accordance with a push-pull model, the unemployment that affected Portugal may be seen as a structural push factor. But it is less clear that Angola’s increasing GDP constitutes a structural pull factor. This may be due to Angola’s economic productivity being heavily based on oil exports and oil prices, contributing to more frequent and sharp fluctuations in economic indicators that are consequently more difficult to align with migratory flow data. It should be pointed out that the macro analysis does not take into account the socio-professional profile of Portuguese migrants to Angola, which has changed over the years. According to Åkesson (2016), the first significant contingent of emigrants was composed of construction workers who started returning to Portugal in 2015 when oil prices fell. The arrival of highly qualified professionals started to increase from 2004 to 2005, gaining impetus from 2008 when the economic and financial recession hit Portugal.

4.1 The Profile of Portuguese Emigrants in Angola

Second, our aim is to trace the profile of Portuguese emigrants in Angola, considering the following factors: socio-demographics, migration strategies, reasons given for leaving Portugal, existence of former migration experiences, and the time spent looking for a job after arriving in the destination country.

4.1.1 Socio-Demographic Profile

Two aspects of the demographics of Portuguese emigrants in Angola (Fig. 11.3) stand out: these emigrants are mostly men (65%), and they are also relatively old: two thirds of the sample are over the age of 35.

Fig. 11.3
A bidirectional bar chart of male and female Portuguese nationals in Angola depicts that two thirds of the men are over the age of 35 and that the majority of women are in the age range of 30 to 34.

Age pyramid, Portuguese nationals in Angola (%).Source: Survey of Portuguese Nationals Abroad – REMIGR Project

4.1.2 Schooling

Concerning schooling levels (Table 11.5 – Educational profile), it can be seen that a high proportion of emigrants to Angola possess a good level of formal education, particularly given the relatively older age of the sample. However, it should be underlined that the level of school qualifications decreases as the age of the Portuguese emigrant advances. Given these factors, the profile of people coming to Angola looks different from that seen in other Portuguese migration destinations, particularly those in Western Europe. Portuguese emigrants in Angola are more highly qualified, more mature, with greater levels of professional stability, and very often attached to their companies.

Table 11.5 Educational profile

4.1.3 Migration Strategy

On analysing the migration strategy of Portuguese emigrants to Angola, the relative weight of independent emigration stands out (66%). Given this high rate of independent emigration, and also given that we are dealing with a group with a low proportion of single people (32%), we might expect to find most of these single people emigrating independently. On the other hand, the high proportion of married individuals in the sample collected in Angola (54%) might lead us to expect to see relatively high levels of family migration. However, this is not the case: emigration involving a couple, whether married or not, only covers about 20%. The proportion of married individuals emigrating alone is the most interesting detail that emerges from this analysis of migration strategies. To some extent, family reunification is discouraged by the country’s image as a hostile and unsafe place, by the difficulty of finding a school for children owing to the weaknesses and costs of the educational system, and also the problems faced by women in integrating professionally and socially. Our analysis of migration strategy thus points to a type of emigrant who does not plan on staying for lengthy periods or permanently, and who views returning to Portugal as an “immediate” and highly-valued goal. Curiously, the current migratory profile perpetuates certain characteristics seen in Portuguese emigration during the previous colonial period in the 1960s. The earlier wave was also predominantly male and viewed Angola as a hostile, risk-filled country where one would go alone with the individual goal of “earning a living” and, from a macroeconomic point of view, of “contributing to the progress” of the “African Province” within the framework of the colonising power’s interests.

4.1.4 Reasons for Leaving Portugal

Among the reasons that led the respondents to leave Portugal, the most frequent answer was “to acquire new experiences” (Table 11.6). The idea of not having a future in Portugal, although important, was not the most common answer. In general, these results are in line with the more mature and more stable profile of the emigrants in Angola. References to opening new businesses, as well as dissatisfaction with the incomes earned in Portugal, should not be disregarded.

Table 11.6 Reasons for leaving Portugal

It is also possible to find these two reasons in the literature: on the one hand, young graduates interviewed by Santos (2016) stressed that they were emigrating by “choice” rather than due to ‘necessity’; on the other hand, the reasons identified by Åkesson (2016) had to do with the chance to pursue a profession, escape unemployment in Portugal and benefit from the high salaries offered abroad. Nevertheless, both of the above-mentioned studies have apparently focused on samples with a younger age profile than the sample analysed in this chapter.

4.1.5 Time Spent Looking for a Job

When it came to work, most emigrants had left Portugal with the assurance of a job to go to (73%). Some factors may complicate or prevent a person from leaving for Angola in pursuit of “an adventure”, the most important probably being the cost of living in this country, as may be seen in newspaper reports: “Luanda is still the world’s most expensive city” (“Luanda continua a cidade mais cara do mundo”) (Jornal de Notícias, 17th of June 2015).Footnote 10 Secondly, it seems difficult to obtain employment individually using formal channels – such as responding to a job advertisement – given the specificities of the Angolan economy. In addition, the absence of a dense network of co-nationals who can provide accommodation and basic information on arrival also acts as a barrier to more spontaneous and independent emigration.

4.1.6 Emigration Experience

Most of the respondents declared that this was the first time they had emigrated (77%). Given the relatively advanced age profile of Portuguese nationals in Angola, one might expect these individuals to have emigrated at an earlier stage in their life cycles. Nevertheless, they only decided to do so when they were older and when a job opportunity with their employer came up. This is therefore emigration of a very particular kind, marked by conjuctural economic opportunity and by an attempt to reduce the risk of individual mobility. It occurs in a context of close economic relations between the two countries – as mentioned before – which leads various Portuguese companies to operate in Angola, often transferring their own personnel to conduct business abroad.

4.2 North-South Post-Colonial Emigration – With Past Reminiscences?

We will now dedicate our attention to identify latent networks that have emerged from the colonial past and the importance such networks are likely to have in the contemporary migration of Portuguese nationals. These networks may either be composed of Portuguese settlers who stayed in the country after decolonisation, or ancestors of present-day migrants who lived in Angola during colonialism. Given the existence of these networks, it is appropriate to refer to contemporary Portuguese migration to Angola as “post-colonial migration”. More concretely, what we aim to analyse is whether contemporary Portuguese migration to Angola is a case of ancestral return (King and Christou 2011). This means a desire to return to a country in which individuals feel they have family ties, even if these ties have been built on the basis of post-memory – a construct based on a bond and a desire to learn by getting in touch with people that have experienced the place directly and witnessed the remembered situations. These people are normally ancestors willing to “tell the story”. Sometimes, this migration is influenced by or is the outcome of a desire to return owing to a family narrative of return (Reynolds 2008), when a second generation is socialised in an environment where a possible return or a desire to return is frequently voiced.

Some of these desires have been found in the discourse of the “returnees” (retornados) in Portugal, as reported by Santos (2016) in her ethnographic study. She detected a frequent, emphatically-expressed nostalgia for life in Africa. Such feelings have grown stronger over the last 40 years and have been nourished through socialising and sharing photographs over the internet. Although the emigrant descendants of the returnees have never acquired any first-hand experience, they have received it second hand through their families. The memory of the colonial past was also revealed in Åkesson’s (2016) study when the people she interviewed had lived in Angola when they were young or during their childhood, and used the phrase “going back to Angola” instead of “emigrating to Angola”.

An alternative to the proposition that this is a post-colonial movement of return would be to interpret this contemporary emigration as part of a more general North-South migration – a movement driven by specific contingent circumstances resulting from economic and social crises impacting strongly on some countries in the North. Moreover, and as mentioned before, this movement is more than likely to be linked to global geo-economic restructuring processes involving the greater integration of certain southern countries and urban regions in global circulation and production systems, which inevitably leads to the expansion of transnational firms (Laczko 2013). This proposition is supported by looking at pairs of countries that did not have any past colonial relations, such as Italy and certain African countries, Germany and Turkey, or the USA and South Africa (Laczko 2013). Besides, this broader movement may also cover return migration, as we see with Brazilians, for example, who have returned to Brazil from Portugal in the last few years (Castro et al. 2015).

In order to test these two propositions, the following indicators are analysed: the major difficulties felt during the integration process, the help that emigrants received, the factors influencing their choice of country, and situations involving dual nationality.

Regarding the integration of Portuguese nationals in Angola, the most obvious difficulties lie in the amount of bureaucracy that has to be dealt with – which is in some ways an extension of the Portuguese administrative tradition in this domain. Difficulties are also experienced due to the increasing implementation of ever more complex – although not necessarily more efficient – systems of formal control that are so characteristic of neoliberal societies nowadays. As administrative response mechanisms tend to be slow moving and, in various cases, not at all clear to emigrants, one way of getting round such problems is to resort to bribes, which are commonplace due to the fact that various kinds of civil servant earn very low wages in Angola. Furthermore, antagonistic personal relations can exist between Portuguese emigrants and the local population (Åkesson 2016), and these are often supported by old reciprocal stereotypes stamped by the colonial imaginary (inefficient black Angolans vs. white Portuguese workers who think they are superior and more capable of organising Angola).

As far as the networks providing support to emigrants in Angola (Table 11.7) are concerned, the role of the employer figures prominently in all fields. At the same time, the importance of Portuguese friends is relatively weak – a result that would be inverted and register higher values if the network left over from the past were at all important.

Table 11.7 Support networks (%)

However, the network of Portuguese friends gains relevance when it comes to supplying information about the country (Angola), which leads one to think that the link does exist, even though it plays a smaller and more indirect role that one would suppose. In other words, this network is in place and is activated whenever emigration occurs, but it does not propel this emigration.

The employer’s considerable importance should be seen in the light of the higher level of schooling attained by emigrants to Angola. Such results are to be expected if we recall that higher-status socio-economic groups depend more on the social networks established with their work colleagues and organisations (companies) than they do on family networks, which predominate among the less qualified workers (Meyer 2001).

Among reasons weighing in favour of choosing Angola as a destination country (Table 11.8), economic factors show up very clearly and they include job offers and opportunities as well as positive economic expectations. It is worth remembering the simultaneous downward trend in Portugal’s GDP growth and the increase in Angola’s GDP – mentioned earlier – as well as the results of the study carried out by Åkesson (2016).

Table 11.8 Factors of attraction

In testing the hypothesis of the existence of a latent network, we expected to see a higher proportion of respondents choosing the category “Friends/family residing there for many years”. However, the values obtained for Angola were lower than for the REMIGR project’s sample overall, which leads us to conclude that old ties with the country do not motivate emigration to Angola although such ties do exist to a small extent, as may be seen below.

One reliable indicator of the existence of previous ties is dual nationality. Individuals in possession of passports from both states have full rights (as well as full duties) in both countries (Faist 2000). In the present case we have identified a small although significant number of individuals with dual nationality (14,7%), 87% of whom hold Angolan nationality.

We are therefore mostly dealing with individuals whose migration has been facilitated by their company’s interests, and whose employer has been their main source of help. However, the high proportion of respondents identifying “friends and family” as having supplied information about the country may still be due to a large number of Portuguese nationals having lived in the country when it was still a colonyFootnote 11.

4.3 “Weak Integration” and Strong Ties with Portugal

Lastly, we will show that the profile of contemporary Portuguese emigrants in Angola also includes strong ties with Portugal: many of these emigrants’ social practices are organised around Portugal and have this country as an almost exclusive reference. The strong transnational link with Portugal is observed in three fields: financial, labour and social.

4.3.1 Remittances (Financial Transnationalism)

Financial remittances are commonly used as an indicator of transnational relations (Vertovec 2002). Money can be sent back home for purposes related either to the individual alone or to their family, the latter being more pertinent here. Remittances for family purposes may be used to pay for the upkeep of both home and family as well as receiving the approval of close relatives (Lianos and Cavounidis 2008).

If we analyse the flows of remittances between the two countries between 2000 and 2013 (Fig. 11.4), we can see that: (1) at the start of the millennium, the amounts transferred totaled 12 million euros per year; (2) the balance was even negative for some years, specifically between 2000 and 2002, when more money was sent back by Angolan immigrants in Portugal than by Portuguese emigrants in Angola.

Fig. 11.4
A line graph of financial remittances from 2000 to 2016. The remittances sent to Portugal were negative in 2000 and 2001, grew until 2013, and then declined until 2016.

Remittances in thousands of euros, 2000–2016.Source: Bank of Portugal. Available at: http://www.bportugal.pt/EstatisticasWEB (Follow links: Exploração multidimensional/Estatísticas de balança de pagamentos/Remessas de emigrantes/imigrantes com detalhe geográfico/dimensão: território)

The amounts sent home by Angolan immigrants in Portugal have not significantly changed over the last few years, averaging 14 million euros annually, with limited variations. However, the money received in Portugal started increasing significantly from 2005 onwards, reaching a peak in 2013 (300 million euros). The most recent data show a downward trend since 2013 (when the Angolan economy’s current recession started), which was the first year in which remittances from Angola had fallen since 2003. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that about three quarters (74%) of the Portuguese emigrants answering the REMIGR questionnaire in Angola are sending money back home.Footnote 12

The volume of remittances sent from Angola back to Portugal may be determined by factors such as: Angola’s high cost of living combined with its reduced opportunities for consumption and leisure; the idea that the period spent abroad has a fixed duration that depends on the length of one’s professional activity, which in practice excludes consumer activities; and the fact that there are family dependents who remain in Portugal, which encourages emigrants to maintain their roots in their home country. In some cases wages (or part of them) are also deposited directly in the country of origin, which means that the lives of immigrants in Angola are almost totally placed within the boundaries set by the companies they are working for.

Once we consider the profile of Portuguese emigrants in Angola in conjunction with the factors that research suggests will determine the amount of remittances sent home, the trends identified above can be partially explained by existing theoretical frameworks. Nevertheless, certain details make the case of Angola unique. Firstly, the theory states that temporary migrants tend to send more money home (Hertlein and Vadean 2006). This is in line with the fact that the year in which respondents in Angola arrived in their destination country is on average slightly more recent than the average year of arrival for the REMIGR sample as a whole. Nevertheless, there is a second relevant factor in this case that gives rise to apparent inconsistencies with the theory. The existing literature states that, as a rule, low-skilled emigrants send a greater proportion of their income home, whereas more highly-qualified emigrants send money back to pay off debts accrued on university loans (Hertlein and Vadean 2006). Neither of these two observations is supported by our study: Portuguese nationals in Angola have a higher level of education relative to the sample and remit significantly and these remittances are not used to pay former university loans because in Portugal the practice of borrowing money to pursue tertiary education is not common. Even if emigrants had borrowed money for this purpose, the debt would probably have been paid off already given that respondents in Angola tend to be older.

As we will see later, migration to Angola seems to be predominantly temporary in nature, so the high volume of remittances is also linked to a reduction in costs normally associated with permanent migration, for example, buying a home or expenses related with socialising and leisure activities (Glytsos 2003).

4.4 Home Visits (Social Transnationalism)

Visiting Portugal is an important indicator because, despite the ease of communicating using inexpensive virtual means, visits allow irreplaceable face-to-face interaction to take place whenever certain family events occur (weddings and funerals, for example) (O’Flaherty et al. 2007). Given this significance, it is also important to consider visiting home as a way of preparing for a future return and keeping latent ties with friends and family alive.

Portuguese emigrants in Angola visit Portugal frequently (Table 11.9). Receiving a high salary in the destination country and having close family in Portugal may weigh heavily in favour of such journeys. Frequent visits may also be the result of agreements with the companies employing the emigrants. They may form part of the “contract package” that, in addition to wages, may include payment for regular trips home –whether this figures in an explicit clause in the labour contract or as a process enabling the renewal of employees’ visas, which often allow for only temporary stays.Footnote 13

Table 11.9 Home visits

4.4.1 Strategies for Family Reunification

Finally, it should be noted that the aspiration to reunite with family (Table 11.10) is a relatively unimportant motivation for Portuguese nationals to emigrate to Angola: only 44% state that their partner lives there too. The sum of the other three explicit responses is higher (53%) and include the cases of the dominant heterosexual couples living apart and maintaining transnational relationships, with one partner in Angola (typically the male) and the other in Portugal. This is another indicator of the non-transference of affective and family bonds to Angola, with emigration assumed by many individuals to be a temporary process that does not incorporate the development of longstanding bonds with the destination country.

Table 11.10 Plans for family reunification

5 Concluding Remarks and Questions to Explore

Between 2000 and 2013, Portuguese emigration to Angola significantly increased. This transformation was accompanied by an identical increase in emigrants’ tendency to send remittances to Portugal, as the sixfold increase in these private financial transfers that occurred between 2007 and 2013 illustrates. This has made Angola the third main source of legal remittances to Portugal, following France and Switzerland (according to the Bank of Portugal). It should be pointed out that there is no reliable source available to quantify the current stock of Portuguese nationals settled temporarily or permanently in Angola, nor is there data providing robust evidence about recent emigration flows from Portugal to Angola. Portuguese consulate registers refer to 134,000 people in 2015 although it is accepted that this number may be an overestimation because the 2014 Angolan Census counted only 45,000 Portuguese citizens. Nevertheless, the latter source is not only slightly more out-of-date, but also suffers from underestimation – for example of Portuguese emigrants on temporary visas who frequently move between Angola and Portugal. On the other hand, consulate registers may overestimate the number of Portuguese nationals in Angola due, for instance, to slowness in clearing the files of those who have left Angola.

Whatever the precise number is, the increase in the presence of Portuguese nationals in Angola and the formation of a sizeable Luso community during the last few years cannot be doubted. However, it seems clear that the process slowed down from 2013 to 2014 onwards, and it is likely to be reversed. This seems to have been accompanied by an identical downward trend in the volume of remittances sent back to Portugal. This current trend cannot be separated from the cooling down of the Angolan economy, and it naturally calls for more specific studies that, for example, will allow an assessment of the more or less circumstantial nature of Portuguese emigration to Angola.

The profile of contemporary Portuguese emigration to Angola, situated in a global context, is one of a North-South movement taking place in a post-colonial setting, contrary to the more common South-North or even South-South flows. It is characterised by its deep entrenchment in companies with business interests in Angola that transfer their employees, who are mostly male, often aged 35 or over and possess medium-high levels of qualification. Portuguese emigration to Angola may therefore be interpreted as a flow of specialised labour, facilitated by job offers and higher salaries, that intensified during a period of recession in Portugal and a favourable economic climate in Africa, and which is also marked by an increasing presence of Portuguese businesses.

If it is clear enough that a macroeconomic framework helps explain Portuguese emigration to Angola, it is less clear whether this explanation should be combined with the idea of ancestral return rooted in previous sentimental bonds with Angola. This despite the detection of some factors (e.g. the influence that family and friends exert in transmitting information about Angola, the importance of having dual nationality) that indicate the not negligible role that post-memory narratives play.Footnote 14 The links that at least some emigrants – or their relatives – have to friends or family previously in Angola should be more thoroughly studied. To sum up, while the character of Portuguese emigration to Angola – facilitated by a series of historical links between the two countries – supports the hypothesis that North-South migration flows have increased due to the emergence and insertion of Southern countries and urban regions in global economic networks, the same cannot be said about the theory of ancestral return.

Lastly, Portuguese emigration to Angola appears to be characterised by significant, fairly intense transnational activity in various domains (remittances, visits to Portugal, professional links to the country of origin). Compared with Portuguese emigration to other countries, emigration to Angola (or at least a substantial part of it) – with its weaker links to family reunification – is more temporary in nature and more actively sustaining social relations with and references to Portugal. Being professionally integrated in Angola does not always mean being socially integrated too, even if Angolans think that the Portuguese are more African than European, and that their integration in the different dimensions of Angolan life is usually quite straightforward.