When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Cape Verde “a model of democracy and economic progress in Africa,” she was not exaggerating. Cape Verde, just off Africa’s West Coast, and its people are truly vibrant. My time here in Cape Verde has been short, yet productive. I visited newly constructed roads, which, incidentally, were the first MCC-funded roads to be completed in Africa. We stopped at an elementary school along the road MCC is funding in Cha de Tanque, where the children welcomed our team with a touching song. I heard from local mayors, farmers, and businesses, who explained to me how the new roads are bringing greater access to markets, schools, and health facilities. I was extremely impressed with the model e-government system underway, offering a host of government services integrated and online; their systems, in many ways, are more advanced than some government services here in the U.S.
One of the most challenging but worthwhile projects being undertaken by MCA-Cape Verde, the local entity implementing Cape Verde’s $110 million MCC compact, is the rehabilitation of the Port of Praia, which handles half of the island nation’s cargo. I toured the tremendous progress being made at the project site. As these photos show, this is a massive project involving complex engineering and construction. When the port is completed and the compact ends in October, Cape Verde stands to increase its international and domestic trading capacity substantially.
I was impressed also with the vibrancy of the local business owners and entrepreneurs I met, all of whom were excited about investing in Cape Verde’s future. One local entrepreneur expressed a hopeful vision of Cape Verde harnessing the island nation’s many days of sunshine and strong winds for alternative energy projects. In my meeting with the Prime Minister, he expressed similar aspirations for his country. These kinds of innovative ideas are needed if Cape Verde is to overcome its constraints and grow into the regional success story I believe it can be.