Sao Tome and Principe

Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Principe
Population 194,006 (July 2015 est.)
Independence 1975, Portugal
Languages Portuguese (official), Forro, French, Angolar, English
Form of government Republic
GDP (2014) $341 million; per capita (2014): $3.200

Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, consisting of two main archipelagos off the western coast of Gabon in central Africa, achieved independence in 1975. Democratic reforms were adopted in the late 1980s, and the first free elections were held in 1991.

Decades following those elections were dominated by wrangling for political power, including failed coups, leadership changes, and overall political and institutional instability. The 2011 elections saw first president of the Republic, H.E. Manuel Pinto da Costa, return to power for a second term. In recent years, the government has been pursuing economic diversification in tourism and offshore oil and gas development.

São Tomé and Príncipe’s current poverty reduction strategy for 2012-2016 focuses on four main pillars: (1) Promoting good governance and public-sector reform; (2) Supporting sustainable and inclusive economic growth; (3) Enhancing human capital and extending basic social services; and (4) Reinforcing social cohesion and social protection, particularly for vulnerable population groups.

São Tomé and Príncipe joined the g7+ in 2014; their membership was approved at the annual g7+ Ministerial Meetings in Lomé, Togo.

Government Title Name
President H.E. Evaristo do Espírito Santo Carvalho 
Prime Minister H.E.  Patrice Emery TROVOADA
Minister of Finance, Commerce and Economy H.E. Américo de Oliveira RAMOS
g7+ Focal Point Mr. Agostinho BERNARDO, Cabinet Chief, Ministry of Finance

 

The president of São Tomé and Príncipe is the chief of state, and is elected in five-year terms. The head of government is the prime minister, who is appointed by parliament and approved by the president. The most recent presidential elections took place in 2011.

The unicameral parliament is the National Assembly, whose 55 members are elected to serve four-year terms. The most recent parliamentary elections took place in 2014; the next elections are scheduled for December 2018. The ruling party currently holds 26 seats, followed by the two leading opposition parties, who hold 21 and 7 seats respectively.

Socioeconomic status in São Tomé and Príncipe has progressed in recent years. Education and health outcomes have improved: Maternal and child mortality rates have declined, and primary education completion rates are close to meeting the 97 percent target. Malaria and HIV/AIDS prevalence have also declined. Despite this progress in human development, however, employment opportunities and access to credit are limited, and household incomes are low.

São Tomé and Príncipe’s position as a small island state makes its population particularly vulnerable to external economic shocks and natural disasters. Much of the country’s development efforts are currently focused on mitigating issues relating to climate change and environmental degradation. São Tomé and Príncipe’s 2012-2016 poverty reduction strategy also prioritizes extending basic social services to the entire population, and broadly improving service quality.

Approximately 20 percent of São Tomé and Príncipe’s GDP is generated from the agriculture sector; cocoa is the primary export crop. Services comprise 65 percent of GDP, and industry, 16 percent. The country is highly dependent on imports, including for fuel, consumer goods, and food, and as such, fluctuations in those commodity prices can cause significant economic disruption. Lack of transportation infrastructure, including a deep-water port, is a major constraint to private investment, but the government is actively seeking private investment in this area.

The business environment is improving; reforms carried out from 2007 to 2011 modernized customs administration, reformed tax policies, and removed barriers to starting a small business. The government is now focused on developing the tourism and oil and gas sectors. Infrastructure, fisheries, and agriculture also offer promising opportunities for investment.