February 2017. By Arne Doornebal
NABC was honored to receive a delegation from São Tomé and Príncipe, led by Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada. A group of companies, mainly from the oil, gas and construction sectors, gathered at the World Trade Center in The Hague for informal discussions with Mr. Trovoada. The PM was joined by Mr. Américo d'Oliveira dos Ramos , the Minister of Finance, Trade and Blue Economy as well as Mr. Carlos Manuel Vila Nova - Minister of Infrastructure, Natural Resources and Environment.
Prime Minister Trovoada described his country as a friendly destination. “We are friendly for tourists and friendly for companies,” the Prime Minister stated.
Mr. Trovoada stressed the proximity of São Tomé and Príncipe to the key economic players in West, Central and Southern Africa. “Within two hours you can either be in Angola or in Nigeria.” Although his country has lucrative oil and gas reserves, Mr. Trovoada stressed that he does not want his country to become overly dependent on natural resources. “Oil and gas are not our main concern. We see it as a bonus, but we prefer our country to become a service hub for the sub region.” The PM mentioned tourism, high-level education, quality healthcare services well as technology and logistical services as areas where his country can act as a regional hub.
With maritime services another strong pillar, São Tomé and Príncipe is in the process of acquiring a deep sea port. “This is very important for us. We see a lot of future for transshipment in São Tomé and Príncipe. And eventually a shipyard is essential.” The Prime Minister announced his government is ready to provide (tax) incentives for companies which want to do business with his country.
Mr. Trovoada acknowledged his country is found in the top-10 of countries ranked in quality of governance but he still sees room for improvement: “We’d like to be top-three.” Also when it comes to electrification, São Tomé and Príncipe is performing way above the Sub-Saharan average. “90 Percent of our population has access to electricity,” the PM stated. “By next year we expect to bring that to 100 percent.” Mr Trovoada then announced that São Tomé and Príncipe is seeking to join the ECOWAS economic block.
Explaining why his delegation had chosen The Netherlands for this visit, the Prime Minister mentioned the Dutch experience with ports and water-related technology. “There are also a lot of dredging projects in the pipeline,” he said. “We are ready for business, we are ready to talk to you,” he told the Dutch companies. “A three-day visit will be enough to get you in business.”
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