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The Economic Crisis In Cape Verde

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The Economic Crisis In Cape VerdeThe world is experiencing a deep economic crisis that began in 2007 with the start of the U.S. financial crisis, and then widened to the world.

The interdependence between the economies, the economic fragility of Cape Verde and its meagre resources did not leave Cape Verde out of this crisis scenario.

Some argue that when analysing Cape Verde it is possible to understand that having a population of only about 500 000 inhabitants, the country has serious difficulties in developing just by itself. There are several studies pointing in this direction. Being an archipelago, the question becomes even more relevant, therefore our potential for development lies in how we relate to the world.

The recent report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2009 found that the economy of Cape Verde had resisted well to the global economic crisis thanks to prudent economic management and strong fundamentals that have allowed growth rates to be considered as “solid”.

In the analysis of economic developments in Cape Verde under the Policy Support Instrument (PSI) approved in July 2006, the IMF concluded that the global financial crisis had little impact on the financial sector in Cape Verde and, despite a slight decline, “the international reserves remain adequate”…

The IMF proposed that Cape Verde should make efforts towards to developing the domestic financial market taking into account the scope available to gradually lower interest rates.

On this point it should be noted that the Bank of Cape Verde (BCV) decided in late 2009, to reduce the Central Bank benchmark interest rate by 100 basis points (1%) with effect from January 4, 2010.

This decision was supported by the evolution of international interest rates, particularly in the Eurozone. In turn, the ADB (African Bank of Development) also acknowledged in its report released in Dakar (Senegal), that the Cape Verdean economy would slow down last year from 6.1 percent in 2008 to 3.6 percent in the past year.

However, ADB has confirmed the expectations of the Government of Cape Verde, according to which the archipelago’s economy will experience a recovery from 2010 and should grow in the range 4-5 percent.

The year 2009 was bleak for the normal tourism and real estate tourism industries with serious consequences for the island of Sal. In an interview Olavo Correia, the Cape Verdean economist and president of PROMITUR (the association set up by a group of developers and those in real estate and tourism) spoke about the lack of competitiveness of the Cape Verde destination and warned about the lack of transparency in the business model for residential tourism.

According to official data from the government, tax revenues in Cape Verde had a fall in the first quarter of 2009 of around 16%, as a result of the international economic and financial crisis.

Therefore the international crisis and stagnation together with a slowdown in external demand for Cape Verde, had a negative impact on exports of goods and services, which include tourism and residential tourism. There was also a large negative effect on the public revenues of the state.

In the interview Olavo Correia also said that during the economic crisis more foreign markets have emerged, competing with Cape Verde, using very aggressive marketing strategies. As a result the economy of Cape Verde will have to be much more aggressive, in other words, firms must establish partnerships so they can gain financial capacity, increase production efficiency and promote delivery of services.

According to Olavo Correia, Cabo Verde should look at the crisis as an opportunity to correct what is wrong. Investing more in sanitation and street lighting, improve environmental quality and landscaping, and create a cluster for tourism integrating culture, entertainment, agriculture, and crafts. Basically, the sale of what is original and characteristic of Cape Verde, allowing for the recurrence and return of tourists. This is a great challenge that is required from Cape Verde.

For example Sal and Boa Vista are two potential tourist destinations showing today that leisure tourism and residential tourism are sectors that can ensure a balanced and sustained economic development in all the islands of Cape Verde.

Cape Verde has already shown hopeful signs that tourism can accelerate economic growth, reduce poverty, increase employment and eliminate regional disparities. There is an economic potential generated by the tourism sector which must be used in the best way.

Most economic observers are of the opinion that Cape Verde has a very large potential that waits to be better utilised, developed, expanded and promoted. Cape Verde is a stable country with ten diverse destinations, a good geo-strategic location, and a number of hours of flight which compare favourably with other destinations.

It is a country open to the world, with extraordinary beaches, historical and architectural heritage with a high degree of interest and a beautiful landscape that needs to be properly improved and developed in a coordinated way in order to increase the competitiveness of the destination Cape Verde.

Olavo Correia admits that 2010 will still be a very difficult year in terms of international economic climate with a negative effect particularly in residential tourism in Cape Verde.

In order to tackle the crisis, Tecnicil one of the largest Cape Verdean companies with a strong participation in real estate tourism has been readjusting to reality, developing new businesses including the industrial sector, the internationalisation of the group in trying to penetrate the growing markets in the African continent and invest in the resort tourism in the island of Sal.

Europe is now in a phase of recession, with the exception of Germany, but overall the peak of economic growth in Europe fell by between 0% and 1% and GDP growth tends to be low.

The performance of the Cape Verdean economy will also be lower, due to the financial crisis. In order to reverse this scenario the economist Olavo Correia argues that initiatives will have to be taken by the private sector together with more public investment.

There is hope that this year and next will bring new and better economic prospects.

 

Hernani Almeida has released a second album called “Caalma”

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

Hernani Almeida A magical acoustic experience – this is what Cape-Verdean guitarist, Hernani Almeida, offers the listener of his second solo album – ingeniously entitled: “Caalma” or “Caalm” – the second “a” having been added to emphasize this invitation to unwind. The album was recorded at Le Studio Mindelo by Jorge Nunes and Hernani Almeida and consists of twelve songs; eleven by the guitarist and one by Biús, a simple tribute to the young Cape Verdean musician who died in 2009.

The journey starts with the first song, also entitled “Caalma”… The mood is set… Velvety, captivating and spellbinding, it displays from the start the virtuosity of Hernani.

One is bound to be surprised at first, after all this is not what you would expect from a young Cape Verdean guitarist!  Very soon however, one is taken by what Hernani calls “music surrealism”.  And surreal his music can be. Think of a musical Dali, Goya or Miro… A patchwork audio painting, mixing different sounds, atmospheres and rhythms.  Away from Cape Verde’s traditional tocatinhas and high pinched guitar cords, Hernani’s music is like mittens for your ears and most definitely cutting edge!

Further into the album, the track numbers four “Maskrinha” and seven “Espera Verde Djga” are like two exclamation marks!! Audacious and lilting, these songs remind us of Hernani’s origins and passion for his continent – Africa. Indeed, one can hear the African drums in the background; the traditional Cape Verdean rhythms take centre stage in a beautiful and harmonious way. Batuku, soul and jazz make friends on those tracks, a revolutionary concept!

Hernani AlmeidaHernani has already experimented with mixing more traditional African rhythms and other sounds for his first “love child” as he likes to call it, his first album entitled “Afro na Mi”.  A disc which shows according to him his Africaness, allowing him to “explore and expose” what he observes in Africa.  Hernani the Afro-centrist touches a sensitive nerve in Cape Verde… Indeed one has to bear in mind that Cape Verde is a “mestizo” society, with seventy-eight percent of the population being Creole. The culture of the islands is a unique mixture of European and African elements and national identity is somewhat fragmented, mainly as a result of geographical division of the islands. Generally speaking, the northern, or barlavento islands tend to identify more with Portugal, whereas the southern or “sotavento” islands  (Santiago in  particular)  have  a strong sense of affiliation to Africa – a special fondness for everything that reminds them of the first African slaves who were shipped to their islands.

Hernani declared to the press a few days after the release of “Afro na Mi” that he simply chooses to identify with Africa and that he wants to explore that side of Africa that he has in him. Therefore, “Afro na Mi” he said is “like [his] Africaness put on disc”.

Born and bred on the island of Sao Vicente, his first musical encounters were with local musicians. Aged seven, he was offered a little keyboard but very soon, young Hernani replaced it with a guitar, his instrument of choice.

In 1994, he formed a rock band “What”, immediately catching the attention of  famous  Cape Verdean  artists,  for  instance  the  renowned  Gerard Mendes  (Boy G.),who invited  him  on  his  European tour, followed by artists  Sara  Tavares, Tcheka and  Mayra Andrade .

In 1997 he recorded two albums with Bau – Cesaria Evora’s former guitarist – before playing alongside Malian super star Habib Koité. Other international collaborations have followed, further enriching his musical spectrum. Over the past few years, we saw Hernani sharing the stage with French DJ Frederic Galliano, hip-hop artists Switch and Tony from Paris, Modeste from Madagascar and Brazilian song smith Lenine. Hernani has more recently performed at Sao Vicente’s annual festival “Baia das Gatas” and has been featured on countless television interviews.

Still, when I asked him what his greatest source of inspiration was, he did not mention his past experiences or his country but Nature!

“Mother Nature inspires me. I want to share with people. Be as generous with them as Mother Nature is with us everyday. Let’s all become more appreciative. How can we be bitter, when Mother Nature is so sweet? We should wake up every morning, open our windows and let the sun illuminate our homes. We should never forget that the sand loves to feel our small feet walking all over its skin!”

Not an easy task trying to capture “Nature’s nature” with notes and instruments but this is the task Hernani has set for himself. The artist bids us “to listen to [his] music with [our] hearts”. Musical visualization, this is what we need to understand his music and appreciate all its subtleties!

So, sit back, relax and take in the full spectrum of Hernani’s musical creativity.

To find out more about Hernani Almeida, go to: http://www.hernanicv.com or http://www.myspace.com/hernani1978

 

LURA: BODY, VOICE AND MUSIC FROM THE SOUL OF CAPE VERDE

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

LURAAnyone who enjoys the music of Cape Verde knows that in recent years, new voices and new sounds have emerged without completely moving away from the traditional Cape Verdean sound that convey an intense feeling of freshness.

To be aware of this, one needs to do just one simple thing: to listen with one’s heart, because this is the best way to grasp the meaning of a message when it is called “di Korpo ku soul.”

This is what has happened with Lura, whose voice and ability to interpret Cape Verdean music was discovered recently and has become one of the best ways of making Cape Verdean music known internationally.

There is no longer any doubt about the perfect complicity established between the singer and the music of these islands, surely one of the best partnerships in the world.

LURACREOLE IDENTITY

This is more than evident in Lura’s five albums. Lura was born in Portugal in 1975, the same year that the birthplace of her parents, (her mother is from Santo Antão and her father from Santiago), achieved independence from Portugal. Their daughter, less than 30 years later would become a symbol of union between Cape Verdeans and Portuguese, as well as a source of pride for both nations.

The reality is that, despite a career built almost exclusively around the music of Cape Verde, Lura was born and raised in Portugual and her experiences were always dominated by the values of Portuguese culture.

“This situation is changing gradually turning into something special, because of my need to learn about these islands, the longing and curiosity that I experienced in relation to Cape Verde. This is a result of stories that I heard from my parents since I was small, who bequeathed me in that way, a heritage of imagery that I have now the privilege to enjoy”, says the artist, for whom the desire to know Cape Verde in all its aspects and cultural wealth is “increasingly more appealing “.

MUSIC AS A PASSION
If we bother to examine the meaning of some of the titles in the discography of Lura, we can easily understand that from the moment she embraced the music, first as a hobby and after as a career option, the singer always lived life (Nha Vida) in a state of permanent passion (In Love), to which she gave herself with body and soul (Di Korpu Ku Alma).

The final return to her origins happened with M’bem di Fora, which can be interpreted as a declaration of belonging to Cape Verde, and confirmation of the growing musical identity of the islands. This is underlined by Eclipse, Lura’s latest album.

Thus, when analysing the meaning of these titles and looking at the career that Lura has been building, there are interpretations that depending on the imagination, may

 

SAILING TO CAPE VERDE

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

SAILING TO CAPE VERDEMy name is Bob White and in 2007 I decided to come to Sal to have a look at the boat excursion market.

I had been driving powerboats for over 20 years in and around the UK and I decided it was time for a change of lifestyle, after visiting Sal I knew that this was the place where I wanted to settle.

So, in July 2007 I put my 35 Glastron Powerboat (King Boa) on a container ship to Gran Canaria and flew on ahead to await its arrival. I had to wait 3 months in Gran Canaria to sort out the necessary paperwork and also to await the arrival of a yacht to accompany me to Sal, as it was a dangerous journey to attempt alone. Whilst there, I spent the time preparing the boat for the 961 mile trip to Sal.

I had some challenges to overcome before I set off on my trip, one being my crew man did not arrive so I had to find someone else to accompany me on the trip. This proved very difficult as everyone who saw my boat said it was a suicide mission. I did find one man to do it however, the chef on the accompanying yacht, much to the dismay of his skipper! I was hoping I’d eat well on my journey!

On October 25th we set off from Gran Canaria, carrying 675 litres of fuel in the tank and another 660 litres in jerry cans stacked everywhere on the boat.

We had heard some stories about pirates in local waters so we decided to avoid any coastlines and go offshore all the way, which meant we were sailing 200-350 miles from the nearest coastline. Conditions were pretty good, we had the wind behind us all the way with a 15-30ft swell following us. We travelled at 8 knots in order to get the best mileage but also to avoid overtaking the high swell.

We had no auto pilot so as the swell reached the back of the boat we had to steer left, and as the swell reached halfway down and under the boat we had to steer to the right. We could only run with the steering wheel in the centre position for 10 seconds at a time before starting the manoeuvres all over again, so by the time we got to the end of the journey we had worn the surface off the steering wheel. These manoeuvres meant we had to be at the wheel constantly, so we took it in turns doing 3 hour shifts and covered 200 miles a day driving 24 hours continuously.

Food preparation and quality was limited but having a chef on board meant the food was good and we ate well unless a big swell knocked the food off our laps to the floor, which unfortunately happened quite often.

At night we were bombarded with flying fish, the lights from the boat seemed to attract them but they could be quite dangerous as they flew very close to our faces on many occasions.

The journey was a solitary one, we only saw lights from one other ship once, and they were way off in the distance.

On the 31st of October we saw the coastline of Sal and I have to say I was a very happy man to set foot on land! It was a gruelling journey but also a very exciting and challenging one and if I had to do it again I would do so in a heartbeat.

I am delighted to say we have a whale and dolphin excursion business now and I am enjoying my new lifestyle enormously.

You can follow us on our Facebook page – King Boa Powerboats or contact me on 238 994 9248 to find out more about the excursions we offer.