Friday, July 20, 2012

Angola's Maritime Future; Developing Seamen

Angola has a long, thousand-mile coastline generally unaffected by the more dramatic weather conditions which make shipping difficult in many parts of the world.  Current Angolan maritime activities are concentrated in its busy and well-developed offshore oil industry. There is intense coastal traffic supplying oil exploration and production companies with equipment, transferring crews, and ferrying staff overseeing well-drilling operations or carrying out maintenance.  There are also regular oil-tanker loading operations which then take the precious cargo to markets all over the world.

Most of the vessels plying Angolan ports often operate exclusively in coastal waters for oil industry-related activities but use crews drawn from around the globe, with relatively few Angolans on board. The government plans to change this situation and bring greater Angolan access to these maritime jobs, creating a local seafaring industry. ‘Angolanisation’ is already making steady headway, with more indigenous crews being trained for the task.

Angola's merchant navy has seen concentrated, institutional development over the past ten years, thanks mainly to the efforts of Sonangol EP and Sonangol Shipping,  departments of the state-owned oil company.  Sonangol Shipping has partnered with Stena Bulk, part of the Swedish conglomerate Stena, and Chevron Shipping to provide shore-based training and professional employment opportunities for Angolan seamen.

Sonangol Shipping also operates its own cadet-training program, which has graduated over 40 deep-sea Deck and Engineering Officers since 1998. As originally structured, this programme provided the Sonangol cadets with the required English language and maritime academic training in India and in Scotland at the Glasgow College of Nautical Studies, now the City of Glasgow College (COGC). The Angolan cadet officers also receive on-board training on the Sonangol Suezmax tankers, all of which are built with extra cabins to accommodate them.

For the past several years, Sonangol and Stena have been collaborating on the development of the Angolan Maritime Training Centre (AMTC) in Sumbe, Angola, 350km south of Luanda. AMTC will be owned by Sonangol EP and operated in collaboration with COGC, which has been appointed academic manager. António Pelé Cardoso da Silva Neto will be the chief executive of AMTC.

It will provide complete training for maritime ratings, and the first year of academic training for deep-sea Deck and Engineer Officer cadets. It is anticipated that AMTC will eventually be able to provide the entire academic cycle of training in both deep-sea and restricted certification qualifications for cadets and ratings. It will have staff and student accommodation and aims to become an internationally-recognised centre of excellence, on a par with similar maritime centres around the globe.

Oil and gas-related shipping is not the only show in town. Another area with great development potential is Angola’s fishing fleet.  The country’s coast teems with underexploited fisheries and other seafood resources.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Orthopedics in the Rough - A Doctor's Story

(From visiting doctor to the CEML Hospital, Dr. Nicholas Comninellis) Senhor Eduardo was riding his tiny motor cycle down one of Angola’s “unimproved” roads when he struck a pot hole and landed on a boulder.  What results was the injury in this X-ray above. Most concerning is that this fracture occurred five months ago. Eduardo was treated with 3 months flat on his back in traction to hold the bones in position for healing.  This 1950’s style orthopedic management is usually successful. But in Eduardo’s case the fracture failed to healed.

Last night I took a break from my normal public health and primary care duties to assist our surgeon, Annelise Olsen, with an internal fixation of this fracture.  Four hours later the bones were properly aligned with screws and a metal plate.  Add a couple of months to heal, plus some physical therapy, and chances are that Eduardo will be once again be able to walk on this leg.  He’s a very fortunate man, for such standard surgical orthopedic therapy is essentially unavailable in this nation. (

Friday, July 6, 2012

Angola's Olympians - Taking Pride in Sport

Angola debuted as a participant in the Olympic Games five years after the proclamation of its independence on November 11th, 1975. The first appearance was in the summer of 1980 in Moscow, the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Since then, Angola has been present at all Olympic competitions, held every four years, except in Los Angeles in 1984.
Angola was not present in the U.S. city of Los Angeles in solidarity with all the countries that boycotted in retaliation for similar actions taken by the United States and its allies against the Olympics in Moscow, under the East-West confrontation of the time.  Angola emerged in the Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, in 1988 and thereafter has participated in every Olympic games already made (Barcelona, in 1992, Atlanta, in 1996, Sydney in 2000, Athens in 2004, Beijing in 2008).
Athletics, swimming and boxing were the Angolan sport specialities since the first Angolan presence in Moscow, to which followed male and female handball, male and female basketball, canoeing, judo, beach volleyball and also shooting.  Angolan Shooting made its debut in 2000, in the Sydney Olympics.  Canoeing made its appearance in Beijing in 2008, with the skilled Angolan athlete Domingos Fortunato. The beach volleyball was another sport that made its debut in China's capital.
Among the hundreds of athletes who have represented Angola in various sports, the highlight goes to the runner João Ntyamba and the swimmer Nádia Cruz, who have the record in Olympic Game presences. With his presence in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, João Ntyamba became the first athlete to participate in six Olympics, who premiered in Seoul in 1988.  On the other hand, Nádia Cruz represented Angola in Swimming in four Olympic Games: Seoul, Barcelona, Atlanta and Sydney, where in the latter city she was the flag bearer of the Angolan delegation.
London 2012 is the eighth presence of Angola in the Olympic Games in various sports, without having won any medals yet. In the British capital, Angolans have some hope especially in handball and basketball, both feminine, which are the current champions and representatives of the African continent.
After the Olympic Games, the Paralympic Games (for the disabled), which as usual take place in the same city, will occur in London from August 29th to September 9th, and for which Angola has its eyes on being successful. Taking into account some successes already achieved in previous Games, the Angolan participation was the subject of careful preparation, involving the training of the nine athletes selected (Athletics and Swimming) in the High Performance Centre in Pretoria (South Africa), competition in the International Athletics Meeting in Tunisia and other stages in Portugal, Cuba and in a high performance center in the host country.
The goal set by the Angolan Paralympic Committee is to win medals, like in other occasions, especially in the 2004 Athens Games, where Angolan sprinter José Armando Sayovo won three gold medals and set records in the 100, 200 and 400 meters, such achievement led the Secretary-general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, to designate him as a Goodwill Ambassador for the UN Solidarity Causes.  Here's to the success of Angola at these upcoming Olympic Games in London.  (TAAG Austral Magazine)