Cape Verde looks to European Union, China, USA and Brazil to aid continued development

22 May 2006

Praia, Cape Verde, 22 May – Cape Verde, a small island state in West Africa with no abundant natural resources, in the 30 years since its independence has managed to reach the top of the Human Development Index (HDI) of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The country is considered by the international community to be an “exemplary” case in Africa in areas as varied as democracy, human rights and even quality of life.

But this situation has a high price, which Cape Verde is preparing to pay starting in 2008 when it will likely no longer be part of the Least Developed Countries Group (LDC) of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), and be moved on to a higher level.

Moving on to the Medium Developed Country group (MDC) of ECOSOC will mean that Cape Verde will have its international aid cut, which thus far has allowed the country to keep up current levels of development.

The funds to be cut will be loans with very low interest rates offered to LDCs, sometimes at 1 percent, with long pay back periods preceded by long periods when the payments are frozen.

Together with the good governance recognized by its international partners, Cape Verde made best use of these loans in several areas, particularly Health and Education.

But these facilities will come to an end after a transition period when the country’s status changes to Medium Development.

In order to meet this challenge, which Cape Verde’s president, Pedro Pires, has said is only comparable to the first few years of the country’s independence, Cape Verde has boosted its diplomatic efforts to find alternatives that will allow the country to maintain its rate of economic and social development.

For this Cape Verde has in its sights so-called “anchors” where the government wants to ensure the continuation of what some have called the economic and social “miracle” of the islands.

The special partnership with the European Union is one of the routes chosen for cape Verdean development, but the country’s authorities have made it clear that there are other possibilities.

China is a particularly strong focus and the Cape Verde authorities have put forward the possibility of the archipelago being a gateway for Beijing’s projects on the African continent, as well as other “added value” that the country can give to the Asian giant in this region of the world.

Brazil, the United States, South Africa and Angola have also been targeted by Cape Verdean diplomacy in terms of presenting the geo-political and geo-economic advantages of Cape Verde, particularly in relation to Africa.

As a country with few natural resources, Cape Verde clearly has it policies focused on building cooperation links with regional and world powers in order to minimize the impact of a lack of funds and natural resources on its development.

Its geographic location, half way between Europe, America and Africa, in the mid-Atlantic, is Cape Verde’s trump card for a world, which as it constantly shrinks and moves ahead with a speedy globalization process, looks at these small islands with a population of little over 450,000 people with increased interest.(macauhub)