Seychelles, Small but Perfectly Formed: Guest Columnist Said Adejumobi Works in the Governance and Public Administration Division of the UNECA. He Recently Paid His First Visit to the Seychelles and What He Observed There Has Left an Abiding Impression

Article excerpt

Seychelles was one of the few African countries that my duties with the UN Economic Commission for Africa had not taken me to, so when the opportunity arose earlier this year, I was eager to visit this island nation and observe it with an unbiased mind.

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Seychelles is an archipelago in the Indian Ocean off the East African coast. It consists of 115 small islands with the capital, Victoria, located on the largest island, Mahe.

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The population of 86,500 is composed of different racial groups and identities--blacks, whites, Asians, and others, who have, over time, intermarried and united into a single group. The social identity is therefore a mixed one, in which the people see themselves, in spite of different income categories, as one people and one nation. The normative side of national citizenship has been reinforced by deliberate government policy. The government has installed a social welfare regime that protects the young and weak, the vulnerable and potentially dispossessed, which makes the people feel a sense of national identity and citizenship.

Seychelles, in my view, is certainly a well-managed country. There are two or three indicators that make this apparent. First, the country has a harsh and difficult topography made up of hills, mountains, and rocks, which makes it a difficult environment to live in. Yet the country has been able to harness, if not conquer nature, by transforming a hostile environment into a cynosure of beauty, elegance and friendliness.

The state environmental policy has become a popular culture in which trees, plants, and natural vegetation are highly protected. The flora and fauna of Seychelles provide dazzling beauty. Everywhere the country is green, the mountains and hills are well-preserved and protected, and habitation in this rough terrain made comfortable. Seychelles is a leading nation in nature conservation and environmental sustainability.

Infrastructure and housing in this rough terrain have been carefully designed and planned. Roads and water supply are provided in all the neighbourhoods, and the houses are constructed on the hills and rocks with structural and aesthetic elegance.

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The government runs an efficient transport system that makes movement in a challenging spatial environment easy and comfortable. The beaches are clean and well preserved and form a major global tourist attraction in Africa. Overall, the environment has been harnessed for social and habitual harmony for its people.

Best development index

Seychelles has also made remarkable progress in economic management and performance as an indicator of a well-managed society. As an island, water resources are the major assets of the country. Fisheries, and tourism are the major foreign exchange earners, with little industrial and manufacturing base.

Real estate development has recently been added to the revenue sources, with the rich and powerful across the world flocking to Seychelles to buy property and estates. Money from the Gulf states is now flowing into the islands from a leisure class in search of social serenity, peace, pleasure and exotic environment.

Seychelles' latest real estate development scheme, called Eden Island, is located on re-claimed land right in the midst of the sea--a new African wonderland, where those who can buy the prized properties in the location are automatically granted residency rights. …