Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires was born on the Cape Verdean island of Fogo in the district of St. Filipe on 29 April 1934. He attended elementary and secondary school in St. Filipe and Praia finishing his secondary education in St. Vicente.His childhood was marked by the severe droughts and famine Cape Verde suffered in the mid--‐1940s. In 1956, he left Cape Verde to attend university at the Lisbon University of Sciences, however he was unable to finish as he was summoned to serve in the Portuguese Air Force.
He decided to leave Portugal in 1961 to take up the cause of Cape Verdean independence as a member of the African Party for Independence of Guinea and Cap Verde (PAIGC) He worked to garner support for the PAIGC amongst Cape Verdeans in Senegal and France and moved up the ranks of the party.
After Portugal’s left-wing Carnation Revolution resulted in a change of government, the stalled de‐colonization agenda gained new momentum with Pires as a leading figure.Later, a coup and ensuing civil war in Guinea‐Bissau would result in a split within the party, and Cape Verde pursued its goals separately from Guinea‐Bissau under the African Party for Independence of Cape Verde (PAICV).
Pedro Pires was appointed Prime Minister by the Parliament of the newly formed country in 1975, and began pushing for democratic reform in the 1980s. He held this post until 1991, when he lost the first multiparty election to Carlos Veiga of the right‐wing Democracy Movement Party.
He remained active in the PAICV party and was elected President of Cape Verde in 2001.
In November 2001, after leaving the Presidency he won the Mo Ibrahim prize for good governance in Africa.
Sustainable Land Management, particularly the fight against desertification, land degradation and drought are major priorities for Africa.
—Pedro Verona Rodrigues Pires