Connecting continents: How Cabo Verde plans to become a digital hub

Cabo Verde woman with mobile phone Cabo Verde woman with mobile phone

From its Atlantic ocean locale, the Cabo Verde archipelago aims to leverage digital-friendly policies and infrastructure to become a regional information and communications hub, said Prime Minister José Ulisses Correia e Silva during a fireside session at this year's fully virtual Web Summit 2020.

Correia e Silva sees the country's location at the nexus of Europe, Africa and the Americas as a strategic asset, and wants to build a digital economy for a more prosperous future for all Cabo Verdeans.

The Cabo Verde Digital Strategy to become a 'Cyber Island' seeks to build digital connectivity, capacity building, service provisions and governance.

Nurturing digital ecosystems

"We have created an ecosystem for investment and digital entrepreneurship which will provide employment for youth," said Prime Minister Correia e Silva. He noted how youth unemployment is a problem not just in Cabo Verde, but around the world.

The prime minister also drew attention to financial incentives, technology and telecommunications infrastructure set up to support entrepreneurs, start-ups and investors to the country.

Cabo Verde was listed on the Global Innovation Index for the first time, he noted. The Global Innovation Index 2020 released by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) ranked the archipelago 100th among 131 economies.

Prime Minister Correia e Silva also highlighted its geographical position, social and political stability, protection of investment and cosmopolitan, educated youth as other draws for potential start-ups.

"We have a good telecommunications infrastructure. We want to be the digital platform in Africa to attract foreign digital investment, digital organizations looking to build business and become the venue for international conferences," he said.

The Cabo Verdean diaspora spread across Europe, Americas and the rest of Africa was another strength and were open to investing in the country, he added.

Infrastructure for all

Correia e Silva mentioned how the government is working to create the infrastructure that can reap the benefits of investments in technology, in addition to leveraging a unique geographical location.

For instance, the Ellalink submarine cable system between Europe and Latin America will pass through Cabo Verde, noted the prime minister. "We are also currently building two technology parks in the capital city of Praia and the second biggest city, Mindelo," he said. For Cabo Verde, technology and investment in digital innovation are key pathways to economic diversification, Correia e Silva added. 

The number of mobile connections in Cabo Verde was equivalent to 101 per cent of the total population in January 2020, according to Datareportal, with Internet penetration reaching about 57 per cent across the archipelago.

When asked about concerns about a digital divide, Correia e Silva said their special incentives would make the internet more accessible. Through education, extracurricular programmes and vocational training, the government hopes to make it possible for families, schools, universities, companies and community centres to go online, he said.

"Through the concept of digital democratization, we hope to make internet access an essential right," the prime minister concluded.


Image credit: Danique via Unsplash