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In Luanda, the Rich Feast, the Poor Scramble

The Angolan metropolis is the world’s most expensive for expats
Women carry their babies and transport goods in boxes on their heads on March 26 in Luanda, Angola.
Women carry their babies and transport goods in boxes on their heads on March 26 in Luanda, Angola.Photographer: Michael Gottschalk/Photothek via Getty Images

“My wheelbarrow is my life,” says Jacinto Baltazar. He makes a living by pushing his wooden cart, crafted out of planks and a Toyota Corolla tire, down a dirt road by a market on the outskirts of Luanda, Angola, and asking women if he can carry their groceries home. The 40-year-old father of eight charges 300 kwanzas ($3) per trip. On a good day he finds as many as 15 customers in the Viana municipality. During the rainy season he ferries people across pools of stagnant water. “I know I can’t make a lot of money as a wheelbarrow man,” he says, “but it keeps me busy, and I also feed my family.”

Baltazar is one of millions of Angolans left behind by the tenfold expansion of the economy since the end of a 27-year civil war in 2002. Two-thirds of the Angolan capital’s 6 million residents live on $2 a day even as the country boasts Africa’s second-biggest oil industry after Nigeria. It’s attracted billions of dollars in Chinese, U.S., and European investment. The influx of foreign workers has pushed rents for one-bedroom apartments in the city center to as high as $10,000 a month.