Poverty Reduction Blog Tag: Cape Verde
Posted on March 28, 2013 by Ambassador Adrienne S. O'Neal, United States Ambassador to Cape Verde
I accompanied Cape Verdean Prime Minister Neves on his trip this week to Washington, D.C., where he was invited to meet with President Obama at the White House as part of a delegation of four African leaders, including the presidents of Sierra Leone, Senegal and Malawi. It was an honor to be a part of this delegation of leaders, who set a strong example on good governance and are living proof that democracy does work on a continent that has seen its share of conflict.
Prime Minister Neves recently said, "When a country is as small as Cape Verde, you have to be the best student to get noticed. We have opened up doors for women, set up an e-governance system that is working and are reforming critical policies that will help our country attract investments and improve our systems. We have to be innovative in everything we do or we will be ignored." Cape Verde is a shining example of the "little engine that could." The country has seen rapid development success relative to its peers and performs well on most indicators of economic and democratic governance. Cape Verde is an example for other African countries.
MCC's first compact with Cape Verde was a great success. When I visit various islands, people are still praising the work done during compact I. The impact was huge. Farmers tell me that because of MCC they are now able to think about agribusiness and engage the private sector. With the second compact, the Cape Verdeans decided to tackle tough issues surrounding land as well as water and sanitation. As the prime minister put it, they are tackling things that are vital to Cape Verdean lives, using the compact to make transformative policy reforms in key sectors. For the water, sanitation and hygiene sector, these reforms will help improve the investment climate tremendously. Reforms in land tenure and security will likewise help promote investments, particularly in tourist areas.
Cape Verde is primed for private sector investment. American firms may shy away from investing in Africa because of distance or perceptions of a weak policy environment. Yet, investing in Cape Verde offers an historic opportunity to be part of the momentum of change that continues to build this country. Cape Verdeans are courageous in taking on tough policy reforms and improving the business environment. I invite all firms, especially American ones, to take a look and explore Cape Verde’s potential.
For me personally, it's exciting to be witnessing the transformation with my own eyes. Cape Verde is a model of good governance that continues to push itself toward further growth opportunities.
Posted on February 7, 2012 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
I bought lunch today for the first time from a food truck. From Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, food trucks are transforming how this country eats, offering alternatives for every culinary appetite. In the spirit of creative entrepreneurship, Morocco’s fish vendors leveraged MCC funding to pursue a similar concept and go mobile. That country’s MCC compact is replacing donkey-drawn carts with three-wheeled, heavy-duty motorbikes equipped with insulated ice chests, empowering Moroccan fish venders to sell more fish to more consumers with a focus on quality and freshness. More than this literal parallel, I think MCC and food trucks have a lot in common. Think about it.
Innovation: Both MCC and food trucks are built on innovation. Food trucks offer one or two signature dishes, giving proprietors the opportunity to highlight and celebrate their innovative food specialties, which might otherwise be lost on the full restaurant menu. MCC has taken more than half a century of development practices and incorporated the most innovative principles into our model for development effectiveness, focusing simultaneously on results, country-owned solutions, accountability, and transparency.
Technologically-powered: Because of Twitter, food trucks have proliferated. Technologically-savvy customers are turning to their mobile devices and online communities to track when and where their favorite food trucks will be serving. I saw the same positive use of technology in Armenia, for example, as farmers, benefitting from MCC’s investment in the most extensive modernization of the country’s irrigation system in 30 years, use their cell phones to obtain the latest market prices for their agriculture products to maximize sales. MCC compacts increasingly are leveraging the power of technology to achieve sustainable development and increase incomes, from computerizing banks in Ghana to give rural families and businesses efficient access to financial services, to optimizing global positioning systems in Benin for accurate land mapping to provide individuals with secure title to their property, to using latest breakthroughs to grow, irrigate and harvest quality crops that both promote greater food security a
nd make farmers more competitive in the marketplace.
Customer-driven: Given the long line I stood in, I am struck by how many people are drawn to the food truck experience. There’s obvious market demand. MCC, too, is approached constantly by countries eager to reform their policies and partner with us. The partnerships we do form with a select group of poor, but well-governed, countries are based on shared responsibility and mutual accountability to achieve their homegrown development solutions.
Just as food trucks serve a cornucopia of cuisines from around the world, MCC partners span the globe in a common drive to reduce poverty through economic growth. By opening gateways to opportunity, MCC’s worldwide partnerships help local businesses and entrepreneurs thrive, so that our development dollars, ultimately, can be replaced by economic growth led by the private sector.
I am preparing to travel to Africa this month to sign MCC’s compact with Cape Verde and to mark the completion of Ghana’s MCC compact. Such milestone events in these countries will serve as opportunities to see MCC’s approach to innovation, technology and country-owned development strategies in action. Check back to read my blogs from those upcoming travels. In the meantime, please let me know if there are any food trucks in Cape Verde and Ghana I should sample.
Posted on October 14, 2011 by Cassandra Butts, MCC Senior Advisor
It is fitting that this past Monday the Mo Ibrahim Foundation ended its two-year hiatus in awarding its prestigious Ibrahim Prize, which is reserved for African leaders who demonstrate a commitment to democracy, by recognizing former Cape Verde President Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires. While President Pires deserves recognition for his years of leadership in various positions since Cape Verde’s independence in 1975, it is his most recent act of leadership in stepping down from office at the end of his second term to pave the way for the peaceful election of opposition candidate Jorge Carlos Fonseca that merits attention.
On a recent visit to Cape Verde to review progress towards MCC’s second compact development, I participated in the inauguration of newly elected President Fonseca. While there, I was one of a few hundred guests to experience a very rare event in Africa: the beginning of shared government with representation from Cape Verde's two major parties.
President Fonseca described his victory in the August 21, 2011 run-off election (against ruling party candidate Manuel Inocencio Sousa) as a victory “for democracy, for the dignity of the Cape Verdean people.” While the inauguration ceremony lacked the fanfare sometimes typical of such events, it made up for it through careful attention to the details of a constitutional transfer of power and through the enthusiasm of those in attendance.
The ceremony and the internationally recognized free and fair election that preceded it highlight why Cape Verde has succeeded as an MCC partner country, and why it has qualified for second compact consideration. By creating a stable political environment to achieve key policy reforms in the areas of economic development and social investment, Cape Verde has become a model for governing maturity in West Africa.
The recent presidential election is yet another indication of how Cape Verde embraces the just and democratic governance principles at the heart of the MCC country selection process. It remains to be seen how Cape Verde will function under shared government, yet we have every reason to believe that it will continue to lay the groundwork for good governance that is deserving of recognition by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, MCC, and others.
Posted on October 22, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
Last week marked another milestone moment in MCC’s history—the completion of MCC’s compact with Cape Verde. The last time I was in Cape Verde, I visited the unfinished Port of Praia project being implemented by MCA-Cape Verde with funds from MCC. What a difference eight months makes! Together with Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves, I witnessed the inauguration of Phase I of the Port of Praia. The port is now more efficient, with a new access road, cargo village for storage, and a strengthened security system.
Also on this visit, I traveled to the island of Santo Antao, which has the largest population of farmers in Cape Verde. There, we inaugurated the post-harvest center. At this modern facility, farmers can now have their produce inspected by trained sanitary inspectors and store their agricultural products to maintain freshness and quality.
One of the most moving experiences for me was meeting Cape Verdean farmers. Celso Duarte, a young farmer who leads his farmer association in Paul, told me that, thanks to MCC’s assistance, he received training and acquired the necessary skills to use the new watershed management system. As a result, he now has drip irrigation on his land. Sousa told me how he ensures that he and his fellow farmers are using the technique properly to diversify their crops and get them to market. And he added: “I wanted to personally thank you and the American people for funding my training and giving me and my family the chance to improve our lives.”
Hearing words like this further convinces me that we are making a difference.
Posted on October 7, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
I had the opportunity yesterday to showcase MCC’s commitment to poverty reduction and economic growth in Africa at two great events.
In the morning, I met with U.S. ambassadors working throughout Africa, including in many MCC partners countries. I briefed the African Chiefs of Mission on MCC’s work throughout the continent and, more importantly, learned from them how we can work together more effectively. Deepening our cooperation and coordination allows us to maximize the impact of MCC investments in Africa.
Last evening, I was honored to deliver the keynote speech as part of the Africa Society’s Ambassador Andrew Young Lecture Series on Africa. The Embassy of Ghana opened its doors to over 200 guests; it was exciting and energizing to be among so many friends of Africa, who share MCC’s commitment to partnering with African countries to achieve sustainable economic growth. We recognize that the best way to realize the continent’s promise is through partnerships grounded in mutual respect and responsibility, accountability, sound policies, and results.
Next week, I’ll be travelling to Cape Verde for the first, full-term completion of an MCC compact in Africa. This marks an important milestone to assess what worked well in the fight against poverty and what lessons we’ve learned to improve future programs. I look forward to sharing our findings. I am firmly committed to making sure that MCC’s work in Africa creates stronger economies and more prosperous communities by promoting good governance, expanding trade capacity, building infrastructure, and engaging the private sector. It is in our own strategic, economic, and moral interests to work together with Africa to realize the global growth that will benefit all of us.
Posted on September 22, 2010 by Frances Reid, Senior Investment and Risk Officer
On Monday night, MCC hosted a reception that brought together leaders from small- and medium-sized businesses, donors, the U.S. Government, and foreign governments to share ideas on ways in which we can partner to deliver sustainable solutions to the developing world. The event, “The Role of Business in Sustainable Development,” was held as heads of state, development leaders, and policymakers arrived in New York to start the Millennium Development Goals Summit, the Clinton Global Initiative, and the UN General Assembly meetings.
As the new investment and risk officer, I was very pleased to greet old friends and meet new and hopefully future partners. What I truly enjoyed was the conversations that I heard around the room. Whether it was Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves of Cape Verde and Lars Thunell, CEO of IFC, discussing the microfinance program in Cape Verde, or AES Corporation Chief Operating Officer Andres Gluski explaining the benefits of his company’s public-private partnership with MCC in El Salvador, guests were attentive and eager to build on the work they are doing to spur economic growth in emerging economies.
MCC CEO Daniel Yohannes issued a clarion call to our guests at our reception, “Let us forge strong partnerships for progress that will benefit our missions and interests as well as the lives of the world’s poor.” I hope that the conversations started this week will indeed forge a stronger partnership between the private sector and the development community.
Posted on May 25, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, MCC CEO
Africa Day celebrates African unity and the continent’s progress toward greater prosperity. MCC invests in sustainable development for the people of Africa through more than 70 percent or $5 billion of our entire portfolio. MCC works with African partners who show a commitment to good governance. We support local solutions aimed at reducing poverty by stimulating economic growth and delivering results that matter in the lives of the citizens of our partner nations. MCC-Africa partnerships increase agricultural productivity, build critical infrastructure, and invest in healthy, educated societies that make for a productive workforce.
These significant public sector milestones in turn create an environment that stimulates private sector investment. When I visited Ghana, for example, I met pineapple farmers who took advantage of MCC investments to expand sales of their crops. Now, major agribusinesses are looking to supply their European markets from MCC-supported farms. Trade like this will support steady jobs and incomes for Ghanaians.
In February, I visited Cape Verde where MCC funds will modernize the Port of Praia. This port handles half the island nation’s cargo, and these MCC-sponsored improvements will substantially increase economic activity and trade. And, later this week, I travel to Tanzania to break ground on an MCC-funded project to connect the seaport of Tanga to Horohoro. This highway will reduce transportation costs and boost trade between Tanzania and Kenya, by open access to the port of Mombasa. This project will spur business development, create new jobs, and become an important national and regional asset that will reduce poverty through sustained economic growth.
MCC also has launched an innovative Agribusiness Development Initiative in Morocco and Ghana to encourage private businesses to invest around MCC-funded sector activities. In Ghana, MiDA, the local entity responsible for implementing Ghana’s MCC compact, is working with VegPro, a Kenyan-based exporter. VegPro is initially leasing a 250-hectare farm adjacent to the compact’s irrigation perimeter and plans to export vegetables from Ghanaian farmers to Europe, allowing MiDA-trained farmers to have direct market access for their product. In Morocco, APP-Maroc, the local entity implementing the country’s MCC compact, recently highlighted compact-related agricultural business opportunities for investors in the olive oil, table olives, and dates value chains at the Meknes Agricultural Fair, one of Africa’s largest agricultural fairs. MCC’s website will soon feature a page that will provide businesses with a centralized source of information for these opportunities to assist both MiDA and APP-Maroc continue their investment promotion activities.
MCC’s development assistance can empower entrepreneurs, attract businesses and investors, and ignite market-led growth. This facilitates the transition from assistance to investment, which cultivates self-reliance and accelerates Africa’s growth. MCC continues to involve the private sector in all stages of our work—in designing and building the programs we fund, in investing alongside our projects, and in exploring financing models to ensure the sustainability of our investments.
MCC commits to effective partnerships with African countries that embrace sound polices and strategies for growth of the private sector. With this approach, Africa will prosper and celebrate its best days yet.
Posted on April 30, 2010 by Daniel W. Yohannes, Chief Executive Officer
“Africa’s future is up to Africans,” said President Barack Obama during his historic first visit to sub-Saharan Africa. By partnering effectively with African countries on their homegrown antipoverty strategies, MCC puts this powerful truth into practice. With over 70 percent of MCC’s portfolio benefiting the people of Africa, we are investing in solutions for long-term prosperity that Africans themselves are designing. These include building transportation networks, increasing agricultural productivity throughout the entire value chain, improving water supply and sanitation, expanding health, education, and community services, and broadening access to finance for greater enterprise development.
On Tuesday, I met on Capitol Hill with members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). Congressman Donald Payne and Congresswoman Barbara Lee hosted the gathering, which focused primarily on MCC’s work in Africa. I shared with them how we are currently working with Malawi and Zambia to develop initial compacts and with Cape Verde to pursue a second compact. MCC’s Board of Directors will also be considering a threshold program proposal from Liberia. CBC’s support will help MCC broaden our investments in Africa and forge new partnerships.
My meeting on Wednesday with the African Diplomatic Corps provided a forum to emphasize the importance of sound policy performance to long-term development. MCC seeks partners committed to good governance, the rule of law, fighting corruption, economic freedoms, and the health and education of their citizens. We welcome the difficult steps so many African partners are taking to reform their policies and embrace the policy changes necessary for sustainability.
And, yesterday, I joined OPIC, the U.S. Commerce Department, EXIM Bank, and the U.S. Trade and Development Agency at the Corporate Council on Africa’s infrastructure conference for a discussion on trade and development. MCC helps to create strong, stable, growing markets in the developing world, which, in turn, helps to create jobs here at home. By working with African partner countries to remove internal barriers to trade, enhance institutional capacity in areas such as customs and national standards, develop trade-related skills, and build the infrastructure needed to enable trade, MCC is deepening Africa’s capacity to trade and attract private sector investment.
With ongoing guidance from congressional supporters, with countries willing to do their part to practice good policies, and with the private sector’s growing role in fostering trade and development, Africa is poised to fully maximize its partnerships with MCC. This will deliver meaningful and sustainable change in the lives of the continent’s poor.
Posted on July 20, 2009 by Laurent Medhi Brito, Managing Director, MCA-Cape Verde
Santa Catarina on Santiago Island has always been a municipality with great cultural and economic potential. Its full potential, however, has gone underdeveloped, given how difficult it is to access it various communities. This has long been the reality for the seven major communities along the way from Assomada to Chã de Tanque to Rincão, a way that has seen its share of notable landowners, fishermen, and adventurers who used the Port of Rincão to develop Cape Verde’s economy.
Indeed, Rincão served as one of the most important ports on Santiago Island, from where agricultural products were shipped all over the country. Some speculate that the port was used by militants fighting for Cape Verde’s independence, making Rincão a place of historic significance in the fight for Cape Verde’s freedom.
However, as time passed, Rincão was left isolated due to the lack of infrastructure and access to major cities like Assomada. Fishing became Rincão’s main means to survive.
When Cape Verde and MCC signed the $110 million compact in July 2005, the people of Rincão were excited at the chance finally to develop their community, with a road that would pave the way to prosperity and connect them to greater commerce and community services. This past week on July 18, 2009, the road from Assomada to Chã de Tanque to Rincão was inaugurated. It is totally asphalted, modern, and functioning, providing a gateway to the world for the people of Rincão
As one of the first infrastructure projects completed within the Millennium Challenge Account-Cape Verde (MCA-CV) program, I am proud of this milestone, and proud to see this day come for the people of Rincão. More than just a celebration of a road, or the success of the MCA-CV in partnership with Cape Verdean’s, this is a time of reflection on the rich history of the people of Rincão. Now, what used to be for them a painful one hour and a half journey to Assomada is a pleasant 30 minute drive.
With this completed road, the future of Rincão has the potential to attract tourism-related investments, and the six other localities along the road are already enjoying more dynamic and closer interactions, reclaiming the historic greatness of the municipality of Santa Catarina. Rinc_o is reborn and has the very real potential to become a reference point for the tourism and culture sectors.
With the inauguration of the road in Rincão, we can all say, Yes, its possible!
Thanks to MCC funds, the dream of bridging the prosperous past with a bright future for this area of Cape Verde gives us all reason to smile.
Posted on June 9, 2009 by Dr. Stahis Solomon Panagides, Resident Country Director, Cape Verde
This weekend, I had the pleasure of joining the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, other government authorities, U.S. Ambassador Marianne Myles, hundreds of citizens, and the leadership of MCA-Cape Verde at the inauguration of the newly rehabilitated road from Orgãos to Pedra Badejo on the island of Santiago, made possible through MCC’s $110 million compact. It is a significant milestone for Cape Verde’s development, and marks MCC’s first completed road project in Africa. This new construction is the first of three roads being rehabilitated on this island. In addition there are four bridges under construction on Santo Antão Island. These works decrease transportation costs for people and goods, improving access to markets and services. This will help move Cape Verde closer to realizing its goal of poverty reduction and economic growth for the benefit of its citizens.
The new road, over hilly terrain through one of the island’s productive agricultural valleys, is already starting to make a real difference in the lives of Cape Verdean families, farmers, businesses, nongovernmental organizations, and social service providers who live and work in communities along its path. It is a six meter wide road with improved safety and drainage systems, complying with environmental and social requirements. We estimate that nearly 12,500 people will directly benefit from just this 10.2 kilometer stretch of road. They will now be able to reach markets more efficiently and have better access to schools and other community services.
This road is just one component of Cape Verde’s MCC compact, aimed also at increasing agricultural productivity, modernizing the Port of Praia-the nation’s capital-and fostering private sector development. Reliable road infrastructure is indispensable to the long-term success of projects in these other sectors. The fact that the Government of Cape Verde, with Parliament’s endorsement, set aside a maintenance fund for upkeep of the newly constructed road and others being refurbished demonstrates a commitment to quality and sustainability.
In these ways, the new road brings new opportunities. The statement I delivered at the road inauguration on behalf of MCC’s Acting CEO Rodney Bent reaffirms our determination to build on the success of this first opportunity to now realize the potential of the MCC-Cape Verde compact. My MCC colleagues and I are very proud to be part of this partnership between the US and Cape Verde that made this investment possible, concrete evidence of the historic friendship between our peoples.
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