Portuguese foundation to set up special development zones in Cape Verde and East Timor

18 November 2013

The Lusitania Foundation for University and Entrepreneurial Development plans to create two special social economy free trade zones in Cape Verde and East Timor starting in 2014, said the organisation’s chairman, Rogério Matos e Guimarães.

The idea of this autonomous non-profit institution linked to the Catholic Church in Portugal is to make Tarrafal on Santiago Island in Cape Verde and East Timor’s Oecussi enclave “totally self-sustainable”.

With the start-up investment of three billion euros for each project totally subscribed by private interests in Cape Verde and with a third from public funds in East Timor, the foundation aims to prove the effectiveness of a development model that couples wealth creation with poverty eradication.

Officially created in 2009, the foundation has been working on these special economic zones for nine years. Oecussi and Tarrafal should become “mini-Singapores” from the second half of 2014 on, concentrating the best solutions and where everything is created, produced and transformed, with the “main goal” of eradicating poverty, Matos e Guimarães told Lusa news agency.

In both places the project will undergo three implementation phases over a ten-year period during which various infrastructures such as roads, water treatment plants and fixed and mobile installations will be built (or repaired, if possible).

The foundation’s chairman said that the programme would begin in Tarrafal, even though the process began in East Timor, which is located in a “very dynamic economic and financial” area, though also surrounded by “very impoverished regions”. A memorandum of understanding has already been signed with the Cape Verdean government.

The Lusitania Foundation for University and Entrepreneurial Development is an institution established under canon law since 18 March 2009, by decree of the archbishop of Braga and in accordance with the 2004 Concordat between the Holy See and the Portuguese Republic. (macauhub)