- Presented with a new strategy to increase growth and reduce poverty until 2007, the World Bank expressed its "satisfaction" with the great successes of the country's economic development. During the last decade, the Bank noted, poverty had been reduced and average income increased significantly.
The World Bank's board yesterday "marked its satisfaction" with the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (GPRSP) of the government of Cape Verde for the period 2004-2007. The paper is to form the basis for the Bank's funding of projects in Cape Verde during the next few years.
Prepared by the government of Cape Verde through what the Bank calls "a broad participatory process bringing together input from representatives of the private sector, civil society, municipalities, multilateral and bilateral organisations, and community-based groups," the strategy paper defines a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for the country.
The new Cape Verdean poverty reduction strategy covers the years 2004-2007. It covers last year because it is based on an interim plan that was presented to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in April 2002. This fifth anti-poverty strategy is to be considered by the IMF board for funding on 31 January.
To reduce poverty and enhance economic growth, Cape Verdean authorities are to focus on five main development challenges over the next three years. These include promoting good governance; improving competitiveness and private sector-led growth; fostering human capital development; strengthening social security and solidarity: and improving infrastructure and land use management.
The World Bank, in its comments on Cape Verde's anti-poverty struggle, noted the "major strides in the last several years in improving the well-being of its citizens." The Cape Verdean economy however remained "vulnerable to external shocks," the Bank added.
Absolute income poverty in Cape Verde has declined steeply from 49 percent in 1988 to 37 percent in 2002, reflecting robust growth and effective delivery of social services. Despite a 2.4 percent population growth rate per year, per capita GDP increased 3.9 percent per year on the average between 1992 and 2000, according to World Bank data.
As a result, Cape Verde is no longer a so-called 'least developed country' per definition. "Cape Verde's transition to 'middle income' status and improving social indicators reflect the success of the government's programmes to increase access to education, health, and other social services which the [strategy paper] seeks to strengthen and consolidate," commented Robert Blake of the World Bank.
While the strategy paper focuses on improving the poverty impact of sector policies, particularly in the social areas, the strategy also makes plain that more poverty alleviation will "require improving the business climate for tourism and other promising growth sectors," according to the World Bank.
The strategy was expected to help the Cape Verdean government to "maintain a sound macroeconomic framework essential for achieving the economy's growth potential, implement comprehensive reforms, promote private sector-led growth, employment creation, human resource development and good governance."
On an annual basis, the financing needs for Cape Verde's poverty reduction strategy were estimated at US$ 196 million for 2005; US$ 177 million for 2006; and US$ 86 million for 2007. The IMF is expected to finance a substantial part of this through favourable credits.
According to World Bank statistics, Cape Verde's real per capita GDP was estimated at US$ 1,420 in 2002, "a significant improvement from the US$ 190 at the time of independence in 1975, or even compared to 1990, when it was US$ 902." The archipelago's resident population in 2000 was estimated at 434,625 inhabitants.
Progress towards the goals that the government of Cape Verde had set itself in the strategy paper "remain contingent on its success in addressing the country's vulnerability to external shocks and its dependence on a steady flow of foreign aid and emigrant remittances," the World Bank noted.
Together, foreign aid and remittances represent about 34 percent of Cape Verde's GDP. If the 2004-2007 growth and poverty reduction strategy lives up to its aims, this percentage will be significantly lowered.
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