Around 500,000 people live on the nine islands that make up Cape Verde. About as many live outside the country’s borders, but count as race-worthy. Politically, the country is very stable. Cape Verde has long had a good development, both financially and healthily, but still depends on foreign aid.
From the liberation in 1975 to 1990, Partido Africano then ruled the Independência de Cabo Verde (PAICV) as the only party. The 1991 election was Africa’s first peaceful transition to multi-party rule (along with São Tomé and Principe) and was won by the liberalist Movimento para a Democracia (MpD). MPD won again in 1995, but lost in 2001 to PAICV, which also won the election in January 2006.
PAICV’s victory at that time was partly due to voters’ dissatisfaction with abuse of power and internal clutter in MpD. The election in 2006 further strengthened the party’s position and PAICV today stands as a modern party, with an almost social democratic profile.
Parliament has 72 seats, and the emigrant population elects 6 of the representatives. Cape Verde has seven parties, but only three of them are represented in parliament after the last election in 2006. PAICV got 41 of the seats in the election and MpD 29, and the last two seats went to the party União Cabo-verdiana Independente e Democrática (UCID ).
In the local elections in 2008, MPD won big. They won in 11 municipalities, including the two largest cities, while PAICV won in 10. The only other party to win a local election was Grupo Independente para Modernizar Sal (GIMS), an independent group working to modernize Sal, one of the Cape Verde’s total of nine inhabited islands. However, GIMS received support from MpD and is considered here as an Mpd municipality.
Although the country’s political stability persists, regionalization trends can be challenging. At the same time, the country is in practice governed by only two parties. The 2011 election, which also requires a new president, can indicate the direction in which the country’s political system will go.
The biggest political debates in recent years have been the public sale of real estate and the effect of the privatization of larger state-owned enterprises. The electricity supply is still unstable. The power price and the “Norwegian” gasoline prices create a number of problems at the individual level as well as for the business sector more generally.
The human rights situation on Cape Verde is better than in most African countries. However, torture of prisoners has been reported, and the police are accused of taking child and women abuse too easily. Drug-related crime and violence are a growing problem, but Cape Verde is still considered a safe country to travel to.
Dependency of aid
Cape Verde exports fish, lobster, some fruit and products from light industry (shoes and clothes). There are small development opportunities in industry and agriculture, and the dependence on the tourism industry is increasing. The country has no significant natural resources, and chronic rainfall is causing major problems for agriculture. Only about 15 percent of the country’s 4,033 square kilometers are arable land. There is still some hardship, because the owners live abroad and hinder development. The PAICV government has long wanted a land reform. Unemployment is around 20-25 percent. Gross domestic product (GDP) is US $ 5214 per person.
Cape Verde today is highly dependent on outside assistance, an addiction that seems to persist for a long time to come. Around 90 percent of the aid is grants. This has become possible partly because Cape Verde has been politically stable since the liberation and the level of corruption is low. However, increasing corruption is registered. The currency (Cape Verde Escudos, CVE) is set at a fixed exchange rate against the euro. Inflation appears to be under control. Cape Verde has achieved a special partner status in the EU, according to the Cotonou Agreement.
The relatively good standard of living in Cape Verde paradoxically creates problems in securing continued assistance from donor countries; Cape Verde is now regarded as a middle-income country and is therefore not included among the countries that are usually recipients of aid.
However, the country’s stable political and social situation led the United States in 2005 to support Cape Verde through the so-called Millennium Challenge Corporation with $ 110 million for water supply, infrastructure and private sector development.
The country is very sensitive to external conditions that can affect the level of contributions from donor countries and emigrants. Emigrants’ contributions account for around 16 percent of GDP. The government is investing in getting this group to invest more money in the country. In addition to tourism, the authorities are trying to find opportunities to exploit the country’s geographical strategic position between Brazil and Africa. Opportunities to offer oil-producing neighboring countries onshore and / or refining facilities have been discussed.
Foreign debt totaled nearly $ 600 million in 2007, according to the UN. An increasing budget deficit in recent years is due to drought-related problems and health and education measures.
Health and social conditions
The authorities prioritize health and poverty reduction. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) supports, among other things, poverty reduction measures and considers the cutting-edge economy as persistently sound. Seven percent of the state budget goes to health measures. The primary health service is relatively well developed, but there is a shortage of trained health professionals. Access to clean water and sanitation is still lacking.
19 percent of the state budget goes to education. There is a free school offer for everyone and the literacy rate is approaching 80 percent. Cape Verde has its own university, and is partnering with a private university in Portugal. The country can thus offer a number of education at the university and college level. The problem of the authorities is continuity in education. Today, parts of primary school education are funded through external assistance and are therefore extremely vulnerable.
Many want to emigrate to seek education and work. However, the tightening of immigration policy in the West has made this more difficult, which has led to increased population growth according to Countryaah.
Cape Verde has sharply reduced UNDP’s development index, from 102nd place in 2007, to 121st place in 2009. The change is due to other countries having greater improvements than Cape Verde last year. The country’s own development indicators are unchanged, so the change is less dramatic than it may seem at first glance.
Area: 4,033 km2 (50th largest)
Population: 499 000
Population density per km2: 124
Urban population: 59 percent
Largest city: Praia – 126,000
GDP per capita: USD 3439
Economic growth: 5.9 percent
HDI Position: 121