Solidifying democracy in African states is crucial to the continent’s economic growth, former President of Cape Verde Antonio Mascarenhas Monteiro said at a discussion Wednesday at the ortara Center for International Studies.

Monteiro said that Africa had overcome the aftereffects of colonization and is on the path toward economic growth and social freedom.

“A continent full of refugees and corrupt rulers – it is within this framework that the continent is viewed,” onteiro said. “We need to change the perception of Africa.”

“Africa is not just a country, but a continent composed of 53 countries, and we have made great progress,” he said in an interview following his speech. “Sometimes people forget that Africa is not only in conflict, but continually evolving, positively changing.”

Monteiro, who led Cape Verde from 1991 to 2001, was elected with in 1991 with 73 percent of the vote in this election, which was one of the first democratic elections in African history.

“The liberalization of the economy, opening of investments, and overall transparency of the political system brought on by democratization [in the 1990s contributed] to sustained economic growth seen today,” Monteiro said of his country.

In June, following almost two decades of increased economic growth, the United Nations removed Cape Verde from the list of Least Developed Countries, marking just the second time a country has been removed from this list.

“It is safe for me to say that Cape Verde is a country that has further validated the saying that Africa is a continent of growth,” Monteiro said.

“For me, Cape Verde has made the greatest strides in the area of health and education,” he said in the interview. “Progress in these fields has been respectable; at the moment of independence, the infrastructure was greatly neglected and in very bad shape. In addition, growth in the economic sectors and social progress have been considerable.”

Monteiro stressed the fragility of recent African successes, and said there are “considerable obstacles in the path towards economic and social development.” However, he said he believes African nations can succeed with the guidance of “responsible and determined leaders and the assistance of countries such as the U.S., China, Luxembourg and India.”

“It is only through perseverance and upright principles that success will occur,” he said in the interview.

The event was part of the African studies department’s Distinguished Lecturer Series, and was sponsored by the African Studies Program, the Mortara Center for International Studies and the Luso-American Foundation for Development.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.