Policies since 2018 have stabilized the economy in a very difficult environment. Yet many challenges remain for sustainable development, especially high debt and oil dependency. The authorities remain committed to continued reforms.
São Tomé and Príncipe has maintained macroeconomic stability in the period since the previous ECF review (February 2021). International support and the authorities’ swift actions helped mitigate the impact of the pandemic so far. Growth is estimated at 3 percent in 2020, supported by externally-financed spending. Growth is projected to slow to 2 percent in 2021, reflecting delays in the return of tourists, and to strengthen to 3 percent in 2022. The economic outlook is subject to high uncertainty and downside risks, notably the evolution of the pandemic.
Near-term macroeconomic prospects continue to improve in the context of higher oil prices and a gradual global recovery from the pandemic shock, but the medium-term outlook remains challenging and highly uncertain. Oil production remains muted, debt and inflation remain elevated, and non-oil activity is expected to recover only gradually. However, continued strong fiscal performance (aided by higher oil revenues), exchange rate stabilization, and a return to positive non-oil growth would contribute to a reduction in the debt-to-GDP ratio this year, easing debt vulnerabilities.
São Tomé and Príncipe has maintained macroeconomic stability, despite many challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated long-standing socio-economic vulnerabilities, which were further compounded by persistent energy shortages and damages from the floods in end-2021. Growth declined in 2021 with power outages, while a targeted expansion of the cash transfer and food support programs provided needed relief to the most vulnerable. Strong grant financing remains critical for mitigating the impact of the pandemic. Vaccinations are proceeding, although the new COVID-19 variants pose risks for protracting the impact of the pandemic and require renewed actions to mitigate those risks. Parliamentary elections are expected in October 2022.