Cape Verde’s name is belonging to  the “least developed nation” category. When our colleague Arjan de Jager visited Cape Verde some months ago he stumbled from surprise to surprise. It is a well-functioning democracy where economic growth has been strong, where literacy is almost universal and 80% of the population has access to (mobile) phones. Evan Davis of the BBC calls Cape Verde the African Good New Story


The first day he went to a square in Praia, the big city of the island Santiago. Dozens of young people were working on their assignments for school or university using their laptops and taking advantage of the free WiFi available in the square. Dozens of travel agencies, restaurants and small start-ups were working on their business plans, their marketing via Facebook and other social media and Web2.0 tools.

No all the squares in Cape Verde were checked, but in every town on the three islands he visited the government provides free WiFi at each square. Not only the big cities of Cape Verde but also the tiny villages. The squares have become lively places again where people get together, study, discuss, make plans. In other words: the squares become literally the centre of the world in Cape Verde.

Free WiFi in Cape Verde is a good example of ICT as an enabler of development that supports education, trade and even personal growth. It also contains a strong message for development initiatives: facilitate development without determining how people should develop. Provide access to the tools and people will find ways to use it.