São Tomé and Príncipe is among the world’s least developed countries. The economy is heavily dependent on plantation agriculture and on an emerging tourism industry, but relies mostly on external cooperation.
Fighting corruption on all levels of society is one of the declared priorities of the government. Also, important progress has been made to improve the business climate, thus enhancing attractiveness to foreign investors.
São Tomé e Príncipe's 2030 development agenda aims to transform the country into an emerging nation focused on sustainable growth and job creation, which goes hand in hand with public finance reform, economic diversification and the modernisation of social and economic infrastructure.
The strategic objectives of the EU-São Tomé and Príncipe cooperation include:
- strengthening political dialogue, improving democratic processes and promoting respect for human rights, peace and stability
- promoting economic integration in regional markets, including trade into development strategies, facilitating public/private partnerships
- sustaining the implementation of the National Poverty Reduction Strategy.
The long-standing EU cooperation with São Tomé e Príncipe is constructive and successful. Some examples:
- 10 km of roads were rehabilitated in the main island, São Tomé, and in Príncipe (€2.6 million)
- the container park of the São Tomé port was also rehabilitated (€1.3 million)
- a waste processing centre was set up through civil society organisations, which employs several artisans and commercialises functional objects from recycled glass (€0.8 million)
- assistance was provided to domestic violence victims (2,890 persons over the period 2015 to 2018) through the EU-financed national Victim Support Centre (€0.1 million)
Under the current programming period (2014-2020), €35 million are allocated to São Tomé e Príncipe across the following sectors:
- water and sanitation: to strengthen sector policy, improve drinking water accessibility and the sanitation system at local level in a sustainable way.
- reinforcement of agricultural exports: to promote conditions for economic recovery and job creation, and to provide institutional support.
A further transversal action will focus on 'Fighting gender-based inequalities and inequities, gender-based violence and domestic violence'.
The country also benefits from the EU’s cooperation programme with Portuguese-speaking African countries and Timor Leste (PALOP-TL), with a global allocation of €30 million in the fields of employment generation in the creative industries, and capacity development to enhance governance.
Support to São Tomé e Príncipe's civil society organisations as actors of governance is channelled through the thematic programmes targeting civil society Organisations (CSO) and through the European Initiative on Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR) totalling € 1.22 million for 2018-2020.
The country also participates in Regional programmes for Central Africa and in particular in the fields of sustainable management of natural resources and biodiversity as well as port infrastructure upgrading.