Migration Profile on Cape Verde Shows Emigration Tradition Less Popular

A deeply rooted tradition of emigration to achieve personal and social success is appearing to be less marked in Cape Verde, according to IOM's latest migration profile on this West African nation.

The profile shows that despite major gaps and weaknesses in data collection, there has been a steady decrease in emigration from Cape Verde since the 1970s.

Currently, only estimates exist on the Cape Verdean Diaspora with figures ranging between just under 200,000 to just over 518,000. The United States and Portugal are among the most popular destination countries.

Despite these relatively small figures, Cape Verde ranks among the countries with the highest emigration rates relative to the size of its population – 25 per cent. Although more than three quarters of all its emigrants are low or medium skilled, Cape Verde does lose a large percentage of its highly skilled – nearly 70 per cent go abroad to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.

Nevertheless, the Cape Verdean Diaspora remitted 10.4 billion escudos (USD 124 million) in 2008.

The emigration drop has, however, coincided with an increase in immigration in recent decades. Cape Verde's immigrant population rose by 20 per cent between 1991 and 2005.

The IOM migration profile reveals that 82 per cent of all immigrants come from other Portuguese-speaking African countries and from Portugal. China, Nigeria and Senegal also appear among the list of main countries of origin.

Indicators point to a connection between economic development and immigration, mainly due to the role immigrant labour plays in the tourism and construction sectors as well as in retail and wholesale business, whether formally or informally.

Cape Verde is also an attractive destination for qualified workers with specialists in intellectual and scientific professions representing the second largest category of migrant labour.

Looking ahead, the profile, funded by the European Union, Switzerland and Belgium, highlights that a reduced capacity of the labour market to absorb workers, unemployment that mainly affects the youth, a predicted population increase of 30 per cent by 2020 and an increase in life expectancy can again push more Cape Verdeans to migrate.

The migration profile for Cape Verde is available in Portuguese at the IOM online bookstore:

For further information, please contact:

Dario Muhamudo
IOM Praia
Tel: +238 260 96 93

Frank Laczko
IOM Geneva
Tel: +41 22 717 94 16

Rudolf Anich
Tel: 41 22 717 9366