Economy in Sao Tome and Principe

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Economy—overview: This small poor island economy has become increasingly dependent on cocoa since independence over 34 years ago. However cocoa production has substantially declined because of drought and mismanagement. The resulting shortage of cocoa for export has created a persistent balance-of-payments problem. Sao Tome has to import all fuels, most manufactured goods, consumer goods and a significant amount of food. Over the years it has been unable to service its external debt and has had to depend on concessional aid and debt rescheduling. Considerable potential exists for development of a tourist industry and the government has taken steps to expand facilities in recent years. The government also has attempted to reduce price controls and subsidies but economic growth has remained sluggish. Sao Tome is also optimistic that significant petroleum discoveries are forthcoming in its territorial waters in the oil-rich waters of the Gulf of Guinea.

GDP: purchasing power parity—$154 million (1996 est.)

GDP—real growth rate: 1.5% (1996 est.)

GDP—per capita: purchasing power parity—$1 600 (1996 est.)

GDP—composition by sector:

agriculture: 21%

industry: 26%

services: 53% (1995 est.)

Inflation rate—consumer price index: 60% (1996 est.)

Labor force: most of population mainly engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing; there are shortages of skilled workers

Unemployment rate: 28% (1996 est.)


revenues: $58 million

expenditures: $114 million including capital expenditures of $54 million (1993 est.)

Industries: light construction textiles soap beer; fish processing; timber

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity—capacity: 6 000 kW (1995)

Electricity—production: 16 million kWh (1995)

Electricity—consumption per capita: 114 kWh (1995)

Agriculture—products: cocoa coconuts palm kernels copra cinnamon pepper coffee bananas papaya beans; poultry; fish


total value: $4.9 million (f.o.b. 1996 est.)

commodities: cocoa 95% copra coffee palm oil

partners: Netherlands 75.7% Germany 1.2% Portugal 1.1%


total value: $19.6 million (c.i.f. 1996 est.)

commodities: machinery and electrical equipment food products petroleum products

partners: Portugal 32.2% France 16.8% Belgium 6.6% Japan Angola

Debt—external: $266 million (1996)

Economic aid:

recipient: ODA $NA

Currency: 1 dobra (Db) = 100 centimos

Exchange rates: dobras (Db) per US$1—7 003.9 (December 1997) 4 552.5 (1997) 2 203.2 (1996) 1 420.3 (1995) 732.6 (1994) 429.9 (1993)

Fiscal year: calendar year

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