Journal of Cape Verdean Studies


This study examines the historical role of the diaspora in Cape Verde’s socioeconomic development. It analyzes the prospects and limitations of its diaspora as a transnational economic development resource. While it is policy oriented, the study offers a conceptual framework to analyze its diaspora engagement policies and efforts since 1975. Cape Verde has emerged as a success story. The diaspora’s contribution was one of the four essential factors behind this relative success: migration and remittances, overseas development assistance, large scale public investments, and reasonably sound policies and stewardship of public finances. Today Cape Verde confronts an adverse set of conditions that hamper growth and even threaten to undue development gains since 1975. An externally dependent micro state in the world economy, with exceedingly limited internal capacity to generate growth and employment, Cape Verde has few viable options in this new phase of development. Its biggest and most dynamic sector, tourism, is disconnected from the rest of the economy. Foreign aid and emigration opportunities are disappearing. This study argues, however, that Cape Verde’s reliance on its diaspora as an economic resource will only increase. However, a number of obstacles continue to hamper the country’s ability to harness the full potential of its diaspora for development.

Note on the Author

João Resende-Santos is Associate Professor of International Studies, Global Studies Department, at Bentley University, Waltham MA.