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Key findings
  • Most Cape Verdeans see ECOWAS and the AU as helpful to their country, although three in 10 citizens say they don’t know enough about these organizations to form an opinion.
  • Citizens are divided on how easy or difficult it is to cross international borders and on whether governments should allow free cross-border movement of people and goods. Only one-third (33%) of Cape Verdeans think governments “have a duty to try to guarantee free elections and prevent human rights abuses in other countries in the region.”
  • The most popular model for Cape Verde’s future development is the United States, favoured by 52% of respondents – more than twice the proportion who prefer China as a model (21%). The United States is also most widely seen as the most influential country in Cape Verde (31%), though China (27%) and Portugal (25%) follow closely
  • Overwhelmingly, Cape Verdeans see China as having “some” or “a lot” of influence on their national economy (78%) and perceive that influence as “somewhat” or “very” positive (79%).

As a small-island middle-income country, Cape Verde is seeking closer ties with mainland African countries to sustain economic growth and development (Daily Graphic, 2017; ECOWAS, 2017). And beyond Africa, Cape Verde is tapping into the economic ambitions of China for investment and technical assistance, especially in the “blue economy” of the country’s abundant maritime sector (Vreÿ, 2017; Addamah, 2017).

How do ordinary Cape Verdeans feel about their country becoming more closely entwined with mainland neighbours and China? Findings from Afrobarometer’s Round 6 (2014) survey suggest that Cape Verdeans value the contributions of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) but are divided in their views on free cross-border movement of people and goods. The United States is the most popular model for Cape Verde’s development, but China is widely perceived as exerting a significant and positive influence.

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer