International Development Planning Review

Sodade di Nhos Terra: The development potential of return migration to Cape Verde

International Development Planning Review (2010), 32, (3-4), 267–289.

Abstract

Cape Verde has traditionally been a country of out-migration: approximately half a million people live in Cape Verde, while an estimated half a million nationals live overseas. Now, however, the country is undergoing economic development and consolidating its democratic status, and this is encouraging people to return. This article presents an overview of the policies and institutional arrangements aimed at stimulating return migration. In it, we evaluate the development potential by analysing the role of return migrants in bringing 'home' financial, human and social capital. Our focus is on three groups, namely traditional guest workers, younger labour migrants and young graduates who studied abroad. Other categories of returnees include 'descendants', highly skilled migrants who enrolled in 'virtual return of competences' schemes, and deportees. Given that return migration assumes multiple faces and dynamics, its impact back home is necessarily heterogeneous. There is a huge amount of return migration to Cape Verde, but according to our research, the development impact is rather limited. The reintegration of return migrants and their participation in the economic development of their country of origin demands concerted action. Rather than focusing on how to stimulate return migration, priority should be given to issues of investment and integration.

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Author details

Brandão, Frederico

Zoomers, Annelies