Thursday, 5 February 2009

Grit, protectionism, and other stories

(1) Today we depart from Luanda, the capital of Angola, to Cape Town. I've been here since Monday with two colleagues, and, whilst I'm glad to be on my way home after almost two weeks on the road, I'm sad not to have seen more of a country that is beginning to find its feet after 3 decades of civil war.

Some incongruities caught my eye this morning though, when after breakfast in the guest house we're staying in, I saw a bit of Sky News telling me that councils were running out of grit in the UK! Well, I can say that I've heard no such status updates for Waverley, and we would certainly be appraised if it happened.

(2) While the EU gets its federal knickers in a twist about US proposals to favour US companies and purchasing, I'm drawn favourably to the concept of buying in-country, having heard much this week about the Angolan strategies to build a skill and knowledge base that is presently lacking. Of course, it's protectionism for a very different reason, but it at least made me stop to think that blindly lashing out at the US for what at first appears to be anti-free-market policies, is not the most helpful response, and instead we could we calmly considering whether promoting local economies is indeed a good and right thing to do.

(3) They make great coffee in Angola! And although I had read that prior to the 70s coffee had been major business here, I hadn't expected to be drinking Angolan coffee, as virtually everything - and I mean virtually everything - is imported, rather than produced locally.

Don't expect to see Angolan coffee on the menu any time soon at the pottery, but, if Rwanda is anything to go by, the potential growth in the industry could see high quality Angolan coffee on the UK supermarket shelves in a few years time.

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