July 2007 Volume 14 Number 3
Africa: Cape Verde, South Africa
Cape Verde. There are about as many Cape Verdeans and their descendants outside the country, 500,000, as inside, 460,000, making it an ideal laboratory to study the effects of migration (265,000 of the migrants and descendants are in the US). Many Cape Verdeans migrate to the Netherlands, which has introduced integration contracts for newcomers that require them to learn Dutch.
The June 24, 2007 article highlighted the contradictions of migration, noting that remittances can reduce poverty while increasing inequality. The spending of remittances can spur more emigration pressure, as others want remittances bought. Some migrants away for years stop sending remittances, the so-called "ingrote" or ungrateful for forgetting those left behind.
Cape Verde, a 10-island chain, 385 miles off the coast of Senegal, was uninhabited until the 15th century. Portugal settled it with two migrant streams, Europeans and African slaves, and Cape Verde became a supply depot for the slave trade. Residents began to leave in the late 1800s on whaling ships for New England, and then moved to Europe as guest workers in the 1960s.
Cape Verde gained independence from Portugal in 1975, and emigration continued via family unification. Per capita income is about $2,100, and remittances are 12 percent of GDP. However, the unemployment rate hovers above 20 percent and the fastest-growing industry, tourism, is dominated by low-wage jobs.
Mauritius. Mauritius is a country of 1.2 million that has an unemployment rate of almost 10 percent, and headed higher as a result of the end of apparel quotas and a reduction in access to high EU sugar prices. Mauritius wants to retrain its workers who are likely to be displaced in apparel and sugar for temporary jobs in the EU, with foreign employers paying for some of the retraining.
Mauritius has about 30,000 foreign workers, many of whom are women from China working in apparel.
South Africa. Zimbabwe has a shrinking economy, prompting thousands of residents to move to South Africa- 3,900 a week were being returned to Zimbabwe in June 2007. There may be over a million Zimbabweans in South Africa, which has 46 million residents.
Competition for jobs and housing in shantytowns is increasing, sparking a backlash. Conditions are so dire in Zimbabwe, where unemployment exceeds 80 percent, that remittances from abroad sustain half of the households. Many of the Zimbabweans in South Africa are professionals who apply for asylum, and some accuse the South African government of deliberately processing their applications slowly to limit competition on the South African labor market.
The Washington Post on May 31, 2007 reported that 8,000 Africans had crossed the 180-mile Gulf of Aden from Bosaso, Somalia to Yemen in the first five months of 2007. Most paid $50 to $120 to owners of fishing boats for the two-day journey, and reports of brutal smugglers are common.
Africa has problems in higher education. On the one hand, universities are overcrowded and underfunded, producing graduates who cannot find jobs; a third do not find jobs within a year of graduation. However, it is often argued that Africa cannot develop if it exports graduates who leave to find jobs; by some estimates, 20,000 educated professionals have left Africa every years since 1990.
Jason DeParle, "In a World on the Move, a Tiny Land Strains to Cope," New York Times, June 24, 2007. Michael Wines, "Influx From Zimbabwe to South Africa Tests Both," New York Times, June 23, 2007. Lydia Polgreen, "Africa's Storied Colleges, Jammed and Crumbling," New York Times, May 20, 2007.