The Cape Verde Government recently signed an establishment convection with the promoter of the “Little Africa Maio” Tourism Project. According to the Government, the “Little Africa Maio” Tourism Project is the largest ever in the country, both for its value, around 500 million euros, and for its implications in terms of jobs, direct and indirect, of wealth creation, location of international companies, attraction of other investments to the country and appreciation of the destination Cape Verde. To learn more about this great enterprise that will be born on Ilha do Maio, we spoke with its promoter, businessman Enrique Bãnuelos de Castro.
What is Little Africa Maio? Why Cape Verde? And why Ilha do Maio?
WHAT IS LITTLE AFRICA MAIO
Little Africa Maio is a new destination, unique, of a high level and 100% Cape Verdean.
Inclusive destination, cultural, business, with a component of residential and work tourism (tech / on line). HUB AFRICA, the window from Africa to the world and from there to the continent.
LITTLE AFRICA wants to be the new little Dubai or African Singapore. A must-visit place made up of 54 small museums, one for each African country, which explain its history, people, culture, gastronomy, etc.
Shopping center, theaters, concerts, restaurants, city of congresses, exhibitions and businesses, water sports, etc.
Little Africa will have an international standard hospital as well as a first class international school, which will allow international citizens to settle on the island and use Cape Verde as a platform for providing services towards the African continent.
LITTLE AFRICA has the express support of the WORLD TOURISM ORGANIZATION (OMT) and the United Nations HABITAT (sustainability and environment), due to the quality of the project and its commitments.
So much so that its secretary general, SR ZURAB, supported the project before more than 40 African tourism ministers at the last regional congress, and confirmed that the next meeting will be held in Cape Verde, in September this year.
WHY CAPE VERDE
Cape Verde has a unique and privileged location in the Middle Atlantic, 550 km from the African continent, 3.5 hours flight from Europe and Brazil 2 to 6 hours from the USA, having all the conditions to become an international service hub services. In addition to its location, Cape Verde is a safe country, with a mild climate and without natural disasters.
Macroeconomic stability, parity with the Euro, a democratic state, without racial or religious problems, loved by the entire international community, and thank God without natural resources (diamonds, oil, etc.) that incite greed and wars.
Because Maio is a sustainable paradise and Little Africa wants to conserve, protect and promote this UNESCO biosphere reserve.
And two additional reasons.
- We can carry out a new and different project from the all-inclusive model already implemented in Cape Verde. We intend to implement a more inclusive model, of higher quality, avoiding some mistakes made in past experiences, thus guaranteeing the sustainability of the island’s ecosystem, both in environmental and social terms.
- Proximity to the island of Santiago, being the capital of the country, with better infrastructure, quality of services, greater agricultural production and great potential for labor, taking into account that it is the most populous island in the country. The island of Santiago will serve as support across the board to ensure the sustainability of the project.
What will be the impact of Little Africa on the island of Maio, in terms of tourism and economics?
LITTLE AFRICA is not a hotel, it is much more than that, it is a high quality DESTINATION.
Located in the south of the island (the entire ZDTI South of the island of Maio), it will create, in its various phases, more than 8,000 direct jobs and more than twice as many high-value indirect jobs, on the island, in Santiago and elsewhere from the country.
It is similar in capacity to all tourism in Ilha do Sal, but with the difference that it is developed in a single tourist package.
LITTLE AFRICA will fully solve the problem of unemployment on the island of Maio, helping to create local service companies, agriculture, fishing, etc., thus diversifying its entire economy.
In fiscal terms, it will have an important impact, since its taxes will produce high revenues for the State, allowing an increase in revenue collection by the National Directorate of State Revenue, as well as on the social security side where LAM workers will contribute to INPS and the national pension system. Little Africa Maio will become the country’s main net contributor.
What partnership will you have with the Government of Cape Verde for the implementation and sustainability of this project?
The Government of Cape Verde and the Municipality of Ilha do Maio are the main partners of the LITTLE AFRICA project, through the Society for Integrated Tourism Development of Boavista and Maio (SDTIBM).
Little Africa and SDTIBM will jointly create (PPP) a company called LITTLE AFRICA SERVICES, which will be responsible for the infrastructure of the land and for the management of future services and supplies (energy, water, cleaning, garbage, security, etc.).
SDTIBM will control all activity records, ensuring quality, sustainability and the environment.
What expectations do you have for the future of tourism in Cape Verde?
Cape Verde, with the LITTLE AFRICA project, will be a unique destination that will promote all the islands of the archipelago internationally, being a unique development opportunity for the whole country.
Maio and Santiago are going to walk together. São Vicente with its Mindelo, Santo Antão with its nature / mountain tourism, Fogo with its volcano and Sal and Boa Vistas will continue to be promoted as sun and beach destinations. São Nicolau, Brava and Santa Lúcia will become the pearls of the Atlantic for the most daring tourists.
Do you think that the island of Maio could be the embryo of residential tourism in the country?
Clearly. The island of Maio will be the reference for national residential tourism, which will spread throughout the country, creating stable and quality jobs, diversifying the economy, making it less dependent on tourism, and consequently avoiding future problems such as the crisis that is through.
Cape Verde will be a world reference as a safe and quality place to live.
Is there interest in the tourist issuing market for Cape Verde in residential tourism?
There has been no real and attractive offer of residential tourism in Cape Verde, it is necessary to create what is called LIFE & STILE, otherwise let’s see what a resident tourist wants:
1.- Security – Cape Verde as a safe country, fulfills this requirement
2.- Health – Little Africa will be equipped with a world-class international hospital. Residential tourists need a health infrastructure equal to their country of origin (European or American care), intensive care unit, general hospital, maximum level. Otherwise, it will not be possible to implement quality residential tourism.
3.- Education – Little Africa will have an international school (IB), which will allow an international education system from 1 to 18 years old, whose students will be able to enter any university in the world.
1. LUXURY VILLAS
The residential tourist demands premium quality in their homes, with concierge services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, cleaning, food, internet and state-of-the-art communications, as they find in a luxury hotel.
2. BUSINESS FACILITIES
The residential tourist seeks some services for his business, in this sense Little Africa will have a business center, will provide all the necessary logistics, including an exhibition / congress / convention center and several other business support services.
Residential tourism likes shopping, theaters, music shows, casino and restaurants. Little Africa, in addition to these elements, will also have its African museums, which will be a reference in relation to other destinations.
In short, the islands of Sal or Boavista or any other island in the archipelago, will have to create all these conditions so that they can attract international residential tourism, which spends part of the year in Cape Verde, consolidating jobs, consumption and generating a strong and diversified not dependent on sun and beach tourism.
Much has been said about the sustainability of tourism in Cape Verde. Do you think Cape Verde is prepared to continue to receive high numbers of tourists?
Cape Verde needs to vary its tourist offer, offer its culture, music, nature, health tourism, etc. To do this, it must first invest in health infrastructure, train the Cape Verdean population in languages and jobs of an international standard, promote local handicrafts and products, etc.
With these conditions created, yes, it is sustainable to receive a large number of tourists, with good service, quality and differentiation. Cape Verde has what it takes to build a PROPERTY DESTINATION image. Take examples like Madeira, Singapore, Mykonos, etc.
With your venture and others that are likely to be built on Ilha do Maio, do you think it would make sense to have an international airport and a cruise terminal?
It is necessary and essential that the airport of Maio is international, it is one of the commitments assumed by the Little Africa project, to finance and manage this construction, without this requirement the project is not viable.
An international destination requires, in addition to an international airport, also a deep sea port.
The Port will have to have the capacity to store containers and space for energy deposits, and a fishing port is also part of the project, thus creating conditions for local companies to supply fresh fish to hotels, thus diversifying the local economy.
Both the international airport and the deep water port will be built and 100% financed by Little Africa, without needing any euro or guarantee from the State of Cape Verde. The management of these infrastructures should be the responsibility of ASA and ENAPOR, respectively.
Regarding the cruise terminal, we do not see the need to build a cruise terminal, taking into account that the tourism model that we envision for the island of Maio, more specifically the type of tourist that will come to Little Africa is of a level of quality superior to this type of tourism, being less massive and much more careful with the environment. Little Africa’s focus is on environmental and social sustainability. Little Africa is committed to preferentially consuming all agricultural and fishery products produced in Cape Verde.
What will Litte Africa be betting on the tourist-emitting market, that is, what type of tourist is your business focused on?
As we have already mentioned, the tourist client of Little Africa belongs to a high-level residential tourism (long stays = stability), of a cultural and business nature, with a commercial component. This type of tourism is inclusive, leaves all the revenue in the country and generally the revenue generated by this type of tourist is 4 to 6 times higher than the revenue generated by a tourist in the all-inclusive model. This allows for much less tourists to obtain higher revenue.
How do you evaluate the service provided by the Cape Verdean companies of Hotelaria and Restauração? And what difference do you intend to implement on the island of Maio?
The hotel and restaurant service of Cape Verdean companies is very good, for the type of current client. In the case of Little Africa, being a customer who spends much more, requires personalized service of differentiated quality. A customer who spends 75 euros a day is not the same as a customer who spends more than 300 euros a day, these are different markets. This is what we intend to implement in Maio, an efficient and differentiated quality service.
What advice would you give to an entrepreneur who, motivated by the tourist attractiveness of our country, wants to open a restaurant in areas of tourist interest? How will you encourage this entrepreneur to bet on Cape Verde?
First, it would motivate Cape Verdeans to give their country more value and take advantage of opportunities. Gastronomy, culture, Cape Verdean music are very special. The morabeza and the friendliness of the place are unique, … always receive us with a smile and a kind look …
So, to Cape Verdeans and the international restaurant entrepreneur… I recommend not to imitate international cuisine, but rather to value local cuisine, improving the details (environment, decoration, kitchen utensils or dishes, local products, music and surprise… Tourists they value the authentic.
I don’t understand a restaurant without a wonderful Cape Verdean musician and a small exhibition by a local painter. Cape Verdean artists are excellent, but at the moment they are not as valued … That is 75% of the success.
And please put some giant PHOTOGRAPHS of Cape Verdean landscapes and cities in Cape Verde’s boring airports, I can donate them, let a photographer do them. AND MUSIC on arrival, it doesn’t cost much and has a great impact on the incoming tourist.
Finally when are we going to have Little Maio up and running?
As soon as the Minister’s Council approves the draft law that creates the Special Economic Zone / International Business Center of the island of Maio and the PARLIAMENT approves the referred law (taking into account that it is within its competence,) and that the Planning Plan of the ZDTI Territory of the South of the island of Maio is approved, in accordance with the commitments assumed in the establishment convention already approved.
Little Africa Maio is one. project of Cape Verde and all Cape Verdeans, without exceptions, and we need all the support and help to make it a reality and a great success for everyone.
With the aforementioned approvals, the progressive hiring of more than 2,000 people for the construction works will take place immediately, and will extend into the future for many years, in the following phases of the project.
All the financial resources necessary for the execution of the Little Africa project are already secured and will be proven in due time as required by the establishment agreement.
As of the beginning of the works, which we foreseen in JULY, the construction will last 36 months, and we expect to open in July 2024. In this first phase, we will hire more than 4,000 workers to work in the Little Africa complex, and more more 4,000 workers in the next phase.
All workers will have shelters within the complex, from the first day of the inauguration, except those who have a domicile on the island of Maio.
Testimonials about the impact of the “Little Africa Maio” Tourism Project.
Jose Ulisses Correia e Silva Prime Minister
- “Positions Cape Verde with a reference investment that builds bridges between Africa and Europe and constitutes a hub for the African continent” (pag Gov).
- “This project is the largest ever in the country, for its value, we are talking about 500 million euros, and for the implications, impacts in terms of direct and indirect jobs, the creation of wealth, the generation of tax revenues, the location international companies, attracting other investments to the country and for the tourist valuation of Cape Verde as a reference destination ”(sapo.pt).
- “Signing this Establishment Convention in the midst of the covid pandemic19 is undoubtedly a demonstration of confidence in the future of the country by the promoter that we must recognize and that will certainly contribute to the country’s greater credibility and attractiveness to investments ”(Pag Gov).
- “This project values assets that the island has, its ZDTIs, through guaranteed investments for infrastructure and development of sustainable tourism that we intend, to have a multiplier effect on other sectors, creating markets for agriculture, livestock, fishing, restoration, transportation and others ”(pag Gov).
- “Enrique Bañuelos gives us peace of mind and confidence that we are going to execute a good project” (opais.cv)
Luis Silva, PCA of SDTIBM
- This project will create “great opportunities” for small and medium local and national investors ”and thousands of jobs between direct and indirect.
- “O promotor teve os primeiros contactos connosco, conheceu os nossos planos de ordenamento turísticos que temos desde há muito tempo e verificou que tem aqui todas as condições para implementar o projecto. Posto isto, iniciamos em colaboração permanente a desenvolver o projecto”…
- O projecto para além de financiar e viabilizar per si a construção de um aeroporto internacional, atrair outros grandes investidores internacionais, o seu conceito de Maio Eco-Ilha e Expo permanente de África (Little África Maio) como produto turístico, permite transformar a ilha e Cabo Verde num polo de facilitação de negócios entre a África e o Mundo;
- The partnership SDTIBM and LAS will allow the leveraging of a quality and inclusive development in Maio and obtaining revenues by SDTIBM (public partner) in the businesses installed throughout the life of the Project, in addition to the tax revenues associated with the businesses and activities to be developed by the Project ”
All the phrases were sent to me by Luis Silva himself
Miguel Rosa Mayor of Maio Municipality
- “This investment will put the island“ on a new level ”in terms of tourism and beyond.” (Opais.cv)
- “We are talking about a big investment, to be developed on our Island and that opens interesting perspectives for the immediate future” (FB of Mr. President)
- “A great opportunity for the youth of Maio and Cape Verde”
We have the agreement of the President to use any of the phrases
Rui Maia – CEO Little Africa Maio
- Undoubtedly, this project will take tourism in Cape Verde to other levels. We intend to create a new destination, a 100% Cape Verdean destination. Our intention is to offer our customers all the best locally produced, we are talking about gastronomy, music, handicrafts, agricultural products, fish, etc.
- Quality and environmental sustainability will be our bet! Proof of this is that we have created a strategic alliance for the practical implementation of the SDGs established by the UN system. In this sense, we have the support of the UN World Tourism Organization and the UN Habitat from the outset.
Cabo Verde será uma referência mundial como local seguro e de qualidade para se habitar – TURI Magazine