African Development Bank President, Akinwumi Adesina, met with São Tomé and Príncipe President Evaristo Carvalho recently, just as the Bank’s Board of Directors in Abidjan approved the island nation’s new Country Strategy Paper 2018-2022.
“We have long been a supporter of your country and have great hopes and expectations for it. You have a clear vision for the country. A new Country Strategy Paper was approved, defining our new collaboration. Together we will focus on agriculture, the blue economy, employment for women and youth, and the financial sector.”
Carvalho said, “I will do everything possible to make our partnership better than ever. I will make sure that our country maintains its current performance.”
Earlier in the day, President Adesina visited two Bank-financed centres, part of the first phase of the Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Food Security Support Project.
The International Center for Tropical Agriculture, established by the government to oversee phytosanitary inspections, received US $5 million in funding from the African Development Fund (ADF) for rehabilitation, new laboratory equipment and staff training to strengthen quality control procedures for products and services offered to farmers. Paquete Idalina, an entomologist at the centre, said, “the technical and financial support we have received allows us to help 1,586 maize farmers today.”
The Advanced Agro-Pastoral Training Center is the only facility in São Tomé and Príncipe to offer technical training in agriculture and promote agricultural entrepreneurship. The centre received US $47.19 million in funding from the ADF, making it possible to increase the number of students from other parts of the island. Adesina told students, “Agriculture must be seen as a business, a source of wealth. I encourage you to become entrepreneurs to contribute to wealth creation in your country.”
The second phase of the Infrastructure Rehabilitation and Food Security Support Project is already underway and is promoting the development of fishing and farming infrastructure to facilitate production, storage, processing, distribution and capacity-building in both sectors.
The project is expected to boost food production for local consumption from agriculture and fishing. Agricultural products for the local market are expected to increase from an average of 58,000 tons in 2009-2011 to 75,000 tons in 2020, while fishing products are anticipated to grow from an average of 4,800 tons in 2009-2011 to 6,200 tons in 2020. Local products are expected to comprise a larger percentage of the supply, rising from 58% in 2012 to 75% in 2020.
Bank support for the education sector in São Tomé and Príncipe dates back to the 1990s when US $19.4 million in ADF funding went to the Teaching Facilities Rehabilitation Project to improve teacher qualifications and expand access to high-quality teaching.
At the Higher Polytechnic Institute of São Tomé, another Bank-financed facility, Adesina encouraged students: “You are the future leaders of this country. You must release the potential of São Tomé and Príncipe by aiming high, by keeping abreast of labour market needs and by preparing for the careers of the future.”
The polytechnic has more than 2,000 students today compared with 118 when it first opened about 20 years ago, and offers courses in 16 subjects, including biology, mathematics, economics, tourism, agronomy, electronics, ITC, public relations and communications. “I believe in you,” he said. “Be entrepreneurs and become the country’s multi-millionaires!”
Adesina also held meetings with Agripalma Ltd., an affiliate of the Socfinaf Group that has owned and planted 5,000 hectares of oil palms in the south of the island since 2009, and with Claudio Corallo, one of the world’s leading chocolatiers, who employs about 300 people and processes nearly 1.5 tons of cacao every month.