Despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Cabo Verde has remained focused on several key sectors for private sector investment and partnership. It is the government’s ambition to transition to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. This is a sector that has already attracted U.S. businesses. The maritime economy – particularly port management, bunkering, ship repair, fisheries, and other maritime industries – offers business opportunities, particularly in the context of the special exclusive economic zone in São Vicente. Cabo Verde received more than 818,000 tourists in 2019, and the tourism sector continues to offer opportunities as the sector is showing strong signs of recovery in 2022 and expects to reach 2019 levels by 2023. Information and communication technology companies have seen gains during the global pandemic, and the future of this industry in Cabo Verde is promising. The Government of Cabo Verde offers fiscal and other incentives for investments in these key sectors. The government’s agenda to restructure and privatize state-owned enterprises – including management of ports and airports, pharmaceutical production and distribution, and a ship repair facility, among others – has been delayed due to the pandemic but is expected to move forward, which will offer investment and export opportunities to U.S. businesses. Anticipated privatization of the utility company ELECTRA by the end of 2022 may offer opportunities to U.S. companies interested in electricity infrastructure, grid transmission distribution, energy storage, and wind and solar generation.
When studying the small, fragmented Cabo Verdean market, companies should also consider regional potential. Cabo Verde’s strategic location, political and economic stability, human resources, and projects aimed at transforming it into a regional hub (air, maritime, digital, and other) provide opportunities for accessing the West African market. Cabo Verde also represents a potential market for small U.S. businesses. There is interest among local firms in establishing partnerships with U.S. businesses to import items from the United States, including corn, technological components, and solar panels to be assembled in Cabo Verde. The limited quantity of imports Cabo Verde needs of most items has been too small for many U.S. exporters. However, small- or medium-sized U.S. companies may find business opportunities in Cabo Verde that also serve as a launching pad into the regional market. Cabo Verde’s physical (airports, ports, roads, hotels) and IT infrastructure are generally of high quality.
There are local entities responsible for supporting foreign investments and businesses. Cabo Verde TradeInvest (CVTI) is responsible for large-scale investment promotion and is a one-stop shop for foreign investors. For investments of less than $500,000, ProEmpresa and Casa do Cidadão provide similar services for investors. ProEmpresa’s role is to promote micro-, small- and medium-sized businesses.
Cabo Verdeans perceive American products as being of high quality and prefer them when they are available at a competitive price. English is not widely spoken among the population, but many leaders in the public and private sectors have adequate English language skills. The population is very friendly toward Americans.