Maputo or Bust: Portuguese Head to Mozambique for Jobs

by Andrew Johnson

As Portugal continues to experience some of the worst of Europe’s economic woes, waves of its citizens are packing up and heading to one of Africa’s poorest countries, Mozambique, in search of opportunity. According to the BBC, as many as 20,000 have relocated to Maputo, the Mozambican capital, in the last few years, while another 20,000 have moved elsewhere in the former Portuguese colony.

“In the last two years there have been many more Portuguese coming,” said Mozambique’s deputy foreign minister, who added that the government is granting more than 200 visas a day. “I suppose it must be to do with the crisis in Portugal.”

Despite Mozambique’s impoverishment — it ranked 185th out of 186 on the United Nation’s most recent Human Development Index – Portuguese immigrants are finding opportunities in manual labor and mining operations, while others are opening their own businesses. One former Portuguese businessman, who now builds prefabricated houses in Maputo, told the BBC that a “tsunami hit Portugal and now everyone is coming here,” because they don’t “believe the economic situation in Portugal will improve within the next five years.”

Portuguese immigrants are now settling in for life in the former colony for the long term, and happily so. “We don’t plan to go to Portugal or the UK to start a family,” said a Portuguese woman with a British boyfriend. “That’s a good indication that we feel happy here.”

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