SAL ISLAND, Cabo Verde -- It is common knowledge that the Russian prime minister owns, or rents, a suite of 11 apartments here -- not far from the picture-perfect Santa Maria beach shown here in one of the photos.
He must have liked what he saw during his visit of February 2013. Year-round sunshine, no paparazzi, a gentle island and some beaches that look like they are out of a postcard. Everywhere.
The 10 major islands of Cabo Verde off the northwestern coast of Africa are in play. The islands broke away from their Portuguese master in 1975. Recently, the archipelago has seen rapid growth of real estate projects: hotels, restaurants, pubs, and soon, we are told by the tourism minister himself, casinos.
Sal is where most tourists to the tiny nation of 550,000 wind up: surfing, wind-kiting, ATV-ing and partying their faces off with a growing crowd of Germans, Russians, Italians, Irish and cousin Portuguese. Even ex-patriate Cabo Verde citizens visit their native land frequently. Some say there are twice as many Cape Verdians living off the islands as there are on the islands -- in Portugal, in Orlando, Florida, and in Italy, among others.
I am here on behalf of our TCR audience at mostly my own expense. Looking at real estate and looking at a small group of Irish, American and Canadian investors who have their sights on casinos (on another island), hotels, extreme-sports facilities and eco-tourism getaways. The group might, or might not, turn to the USA public markets for support.
The minister of Tourism, Industry & Energy, told us today in his government offices on nearby Santiago Island that his officials are ''not good at marketing and not good at telling our story.'' That is Humberto Santos de Brito, who must guide the legislative and capital processes for fresh hotels, casinos, a burgeoning fishing industry and the ever-present need for clean water and reasonable-cost power.
Maybe the youngish Russian minister, Dmitry Medvedev, can help. He likes his cocktails taken in view of the pale blue waters surrounding tiny Sal Island.
Or perhaps a mysterious Irish-led group of investors already in grasping distance of at least one casino license -- but not on the Carribean-like isle of Sal. Hilton Hotels is in the mix somewhere there as probable winners of the beach casino license at its Sal complex, which is growing.
There are British, Portugal and Dubai investors everywhere. Russians, too. The British don't as a rule tip the bartenders and barmaids, but their word is good for capital commitments. The Portuguese are pleasant and gentle, and they pay their bills. The Dubai crowd gets whacked in the wallet during every fiscal crisis and retreats to the sidelines. The Russians spend a metric ton of money but are rude as they come.
Oh, and the Irish, they know how to accumulate real estate for little money down, they are naturals at kick-starting a profitable pub or two, and whilst some might have their emotional and even legal issues with their methodologies, at least they can hoist a few pints with up-kilt brogue.
I'll keep on the case. In the meantime, all of Cabo Verde is enjoying accelerating economic growth, albeit with mediocre foreign direct investment. Some of the skepticism by fresh capital sources comes from the boom and bust cycle of property values across all of the islands, which are varied in their climates, rainfall and adaptability to developers. Still, the locals are friendly.
TCR family: Our fresh TCR Blips service is in gear. Those willing to sacrifice $20 -- that is USA dollars and not euros -- already are receiving notes and forwarded background on natural resources, other hard assets and even our coming Cambodia and Laos tour in November 2014 with a hearty group of investors and just plain adventurers.
Ping me with any interest in the service, which has that $20 yearly price tag for everyone, including strategics and ordinary folks.
Only requirement: you need to be a TCR subscriber.
We will be doing mostly resources, some special situations and other investments. Basically, this is for a growing TCR roster that cannot get ENOUGH of this stuff. I swear.
It also signals your interest in material that might not come your way unless you happen to be a serial writer, investor and researcher with 34 years in the biz.
If you want the PayPal code: it is here, and does not recur yearly.
The price will be rising.
*$110 yearly: Does Not Recur
**$110: Will Recur Yearly
@thomcalandra for Twitter
DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer