Sheltering beneath little more than cardboard and planks of wood, families cook over open fires, scavenging through rubbish on the street.

Billions would need to be spent to make Luanda an attractive destination.

Passos Coelho manfully announced that ‘this is a good time to strengthen our bilateral relations’ and Angola’s President Jose Eduardo dos Santos somehow managed to keep a straight face.

‘We are aware of Portugal’s difficulties and we are open and available to help,’ was his careful reply.

It could be Copacabana with its surfing possibilities and its vista across the bay to the city lights in the distance.‘Never go in there,’ warns our driver.

‘Street kids live there and it’s dangerous.’ Through the trees, 100 shacks were visible, ragged washing on the lines, unwashed children plotting their pickpocket raids around a dismal fire of twigs.

Yet Angola boasts a fabulous £15.3 billion worth of international oil reserves – its ‘Ouro Negro’ or black gold.

Oil exports from here make it Africa’s second-largest after Nigeria and foreigners are flocking here to work.Karen Neal, head of the commercial team at the British Embassy in Luanda, blames the extraordinary cost of living on two factors.‘Absolutely everything has to be imported and that means using an import agent licensed by the Ministry of Commerce.‘It is difficult to entice expats over here,’ said Mrs Neal.The country that plundered the African state for more than 300 years for its slaves and its natural resources now watches helplessly as Angolans buy up prime real estate in Lisbon and develop luxury housing where its politicians, its army generals and its businessmen smugly install themselves for long holidays.Angola goes to the polls at the end of the month and campaigning started last week.Now people like me with good jobs feel it’s time to treat ourselves.’Venues such as the Tamariz Beach Club on the coast sell champagne for a minimum of £225 a bottle, while a Martini will cost £20, yet they are anything but glamorous – with their clientele of oil-engineer lounge lizards leering at the African girls and their Formica-topped tables serving overpriced pizzas to Chinese construction workers.