Africa's most expensive cities
Posted Wednesday, July 27 2011 at 16:54
Angola’s capital, Luanda, retained the unenviable distinction of being the world’s most expensive city for expatriates, for the second year running.
According to the Mercer 2011 Cost of Living Survey released this month, a foreigner will cough more for a cup of coffee in Luanda than in Japan’s capital, Tokyo – perennially the most expensive city.
If you hole up in Luanda, whose natural beauty is somewhat stained by the seedy bairros (townships), you’re likely to spend three times what you could have spent in Karachi, Pakistan- the least expensive city in the world, according to the Mercer survey.
Should you go hungry in Luanda, just know that a meal in a ritzy joint will cost not less than $100 (Sh8,900), while a “decent” roof over your head will dent $15, 000 a month (Sh1.3 million), says the Mercer survey.
Feeling like a sandwich perhaps? Well, that washed down with soda costs $20.38 (Sh1,813) compared to $3.57 (Sh312) for a fast meal in Shanghai, China.
Just ask journalist Charles Nyende. “I paid $200 (Sh17,800) a night for a rudimentary lodging (he found the hotels fully booked) with bed sheets, tap water…nothing luxurious. Buffet is weighed, the heavier it is, the more you pay, and foreigners are charged in dollars” in his case $20.2 (Sh1,800), a plate.
Nyende was covering the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations and taxi fares to the stadium came to $200 (Sh17,800) to, and from the hotel.
Renting a luxury, two-bedroom unfurnished apartment costs an average of $7,000 (Sh623,000).
The same would cost $4,300 (Sh382,700) in New York, $2,456 (Sh218,284) in Rome, Italy and $1,800 (Sh160,200) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, according to Mercer.
Angolans speak Umbundu, Kimbundu and Kikongo but you might consider speaking the official language, Portuguese when booking accommodation at the swanky Alavade Hotel in Luanda.
A single room there costs $422 (Sh37,558) a night. Double rooms go for $509 (Sh45,301). A local beer costs an average $4.4 (Sh400).
Never mind 60 per cent of Angola’s 17.3 million population - as per 2009 estimates - lives in blighting poverty, with most of it surviving on less than $2 (Sh178) a day, according to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP.)
Despite its extensive oil and gas resources, diamonds, hydroelectric potential and fertile agricultural land, life expectancy in one of the fastest growing economies in the world, is 39 years.
Angolans remains poor, with a third of the population relying on subsistence farming. Safe drinking water is still in short supply, and infant mortality rate is among the worst ranked in the world.
It is a country of contrasts where poverty and opulence live side by side. There are shanties all over, but you will spot a Porsche and hawkers on the road.
One part of Luanda has new apartments and construction cranes are all over, another is rundown, remnants of war and all.
“There is only one mall and the price of items in a normal supermarket is twice or thrice that of its equivalent in Kenya. But the Portuguese had planned the capital very well,” says a photographer who visited Luanda recently.
Funny how Luanda is a victim of the country’s oil attracts foreign workers who escalate the already high cost of goods, the bulk of them imported.