Sao Tome and Principe - Country Commercial Guide
Market Opportunities
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After several false starts, STP may finally join the ranks of oil producing countries in the medium term. U.S. Company Kosmos Energy carried out seismic surveys of the economic exclusive zone (EEZ) offshore blocks in 2016, and in 2018, BP joined Kosmos in acquiring rights to two additional blocks. Kosmos may drill its first exploratory well in coming years; even if successful, the company does not expect to be producing oil until for at least another five years. In 2019, in partnership with Angolan Sonangol, the French Total Petroleum also acquired a 55 percent interest in oil block 1 located in the STP EZZ. In April 2022, the Royal Dutch Shell and Galp Energy began drilling preparations within its block.  

The Millennium Challenge Account (MCC)-driven reforms of the business climate and tax and customs regimes have increased the attractiveness of STP as an investment destination.

Tourism is one of the island nation’s most promising sectors, with the potential for attracting foreign investment.

In May 2021, the government modernized its payment system with the introduction of payment platforms for VISA and MasterCards. This may create opportunities in other economics sectors.

The liberalization of the telecommunications market and the power sector may provide opportunities for investment.

STP has a 160.000 km2 EEZ not only rich in oil but also fish resources. Considering this potential, in early 2018, STP announced a plan to construct a fishing port maximize the potential of country´s fishing resources. The Government also seeks to take advantage of STP’s geostrategic location to attract investment for the development of a deep-water port to facilitate the connection to Central Africa and to the world. The extension and modernization of the international airport is also on the Government agenda.

Despite recent declines in agriculture sector, with support of international buyers, a number of small cooperatives have successfully developed in upscale niche market for organic cocoa, pepper, coffee and vanilla, demonstrating the private sector’s drive to organize itself and attract investment. There is also a growing palm oil produce industry.