The government of Cape Verde and the French airport management group Vinci Airports signed Monday concession contracts for the four international airports (the capital city Praia, Sal, São Vicente and Boa Vista) and three domestic airfields (São Nicolau, São Filipe and Maio) for the next 40 years.
"This concession will improve the quality and performance of our airports, take advantage of tourism as an important sector for the Cape Verdean economy and promote Cape Verde as an investment destination," Cape Verdean Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva said during a ceremony in a hotel on the island of Sal, one of the country's most visited spot.
The opposition has slammed the deal because of its duration - 40 years. It also criticized the fact that the choice of the company was made by "direct agreement", i.e. without a competitive bidding process for potential concessionaires. Calling therefore the process "non-transparent".
From now on, the Vinci Airports network includes eight airports in Brazil, ten in Portugal and seven in Cape Verd, he added.
For an initial period of 40 years, Vinci will pay the State of Cape Verde 80 million euros divided into two installments, 35 million euros paid immediately, and 45 million euros when the same level of traffic resumes in 2019.
The Vinci Group will also have to pay a percentage of its gross revenues to the State of Cape Verde annually and plan investments of €619 million over the period. It will also take over a majority of the employees working in the airports.
The Cape Verde archipelago is located off the coast of Senegal. Its volcanic islands and sunny beaches, attract tourists. But its economy, which is 25% dependent on tourism, mainly from Europe, as well as payments from the large diaspora and development aid, has been hit hard by Covid-19.
The pandemic has accentuated the economic effects of a drought that has worsened in recent years.