Sub-Saharan Africa

Cape Verde

  • Cape Verde
    West African Migrants Arrive in Brazil After Weeks Adrift at Sea
    European politics have been roiled by waves of immigration from the Middle East and North Africa. Many Europeans are deeply concerned that the next wave will be primarily from Africa. But, an African immigration wave might go considerably farther than just Europe. The Associated Press reports that, for the first time, a group of twenty-five African migrants attempted to sail in a catamaran from the West African archipelago of Cape Verde to northeastern Brazil, a distance of just under two thousand miles. The catamaran’s engine failed, the mast broke, and the vessel was adrift for some four weeks until rescued by a Brazilian fishing vessel off the northeastern Brazilian coast. It was the first time a group of migrants had arrived in the Brazilian state of Maranhao. Earlier illegal migrants to the state had been one or two stowaways.  The twenty-five migrants were from Guinea, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone. According to AP, each passenger paid around $1,180 (€1,000) to make the voyage. The Brazilian authorities have arrested two Brazilians from the vessel on the suspicion that they were smuggling the group. Smuggling networks between South America and West Africa, especially Guinea, have been steadily developed by narcotics traffickers. They then transship narcotics from West Africa to Europe and North America. Up to now, the smuggling has been from South America to Africa. In the future, these networks may be exploited to move economic migrants in the opposite direction, from Africa to South America. The high price apparently charged by the catamaran operators may be an indication that they were part of an existing smuggling outfit that is now looking for markets beyond narcotics. Brazil has long had close ties with West Africa and may well be an attractive destination for West Africans seeking greater economic opportunity or security.  
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
    Mo Ibrahim Prize for Governance and the Ibrahim Index
    Sudanese-born telecommunications entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim addresses participants during the launch of the 2008 Ibrahim Index of African Governance in Addis Ababa, October 6, 2008. (Irada Humbatova/Courtesy Reuters) The Mo Ibrahim Foundation on October 10 awarded former Cape Verde president Pedro Verona Pires its 2011 prize for Achievement in African Leadership. At the same time, the foundation published its index of the state of government in Africa. The top five (best) were Mauritius, Cape Verde, Botswana, Seychelles and South Africa. The bottom five (worst) were the Central African Republic, Congo, Zimbabwe, Chad, and Somalia. The foundation awarded the leadership prize to Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique in 2007 and to Festus Mogae of Botswana in 2008. But, in 2009 and 2010, the Ibrahim Foundation was unable to find a former African chief of state who met the prize’s criteria. The absence of a winner for two years in a row was widely taken as an indictment of the quality of African leadership. Pires only became eligible for consideration this year when he left office upon the conclusion of his second term. He not only presided over the economic transformation of Cape Verde – it is the only African country in the past decade to ‘graduate’ from the UN’s ‘least developed’ category – he resisted calls that he amend the constitution so that he could run for a third term. Cape Verde is a functioning democracy: Freedom House characterizes the country as ‘free’, and it is the only country to get Freedom House’s top score for both political and civil rights. In its statement congratulating Pires, the U.S. Department of State highlighted Pires’s role in Cape Verde’s successful transition from one-party to multi-party governance. The Mo Ibrahim prize is rich. The laureate receives an initial payment of five million dollars U.S. and an annual payment for life of two hundred thousand dollars. The Ibrahim Governance Index statistically monitors African governance using fifty-seven criteria divided into four categories: safety and the rule of law, participation and human rights, economic opportunity, and human development. As Mo Ibrahim intended, the index is used by civil society groups to hold governments accountable. Notably, the Democratic Alliance in South Africa has criticized the Zuma government for South Africa’s relatively low score with respect to personal security. It is possible to quibble with any index. Nevertheless, it strikes me that the Ibrahim Index is particularly successful in identifying the best and the worst. It is striking that three of the index’s highest performing nations are islands – Mauritius, Cape Verde, and Seychelles. All three have relatively small populations, relatively high incomes, and are integrated into the international economy. Botswana’s population is also very small and largely consists of a single ethnic group. The country has immense resources that have been carefully managed from the beginning. (Since independence, Botswana’s democracy has been uninterrupted.) South Africa, of course, is the continent’s economic power house. But, the country’s population is large and divided by race, class and ethnicity; its high score highlights the relative success of its post-apartheid governance. All five are encouraging examples of the growth of good governance and democracy in Africa.