ECA supports Sao Tomé and Principe to harness benefits of African trade

(Clique aqui para a versão em português)

Yaoundé/Addis Ababa/ Sao Tomé, 22 Oct. 2019 (ECA) – Following a commitment made in April 2019 during a campaign to educate major stakeholders in Sao Tome and Principe about the opportunities afford by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) will be organising a working session on 29 and 30 October 2019 in Hotel Praia in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe. The goal of the workshop is to improve knowledge of the Island’s stakeholders in the AfCFTA and enable them accelerate preparations to better harness the AfCFTA agreement.

Under the theme “capitalizing AfCFTA opportunities”, the workshop is an initiative of the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC) of the ECA that benefits the close cooperation of the Ministry for Tourism, Culture, Trade and Industry of the Democratic Republic of Sao Tome and Principe and of the African Union Commission.

Given their unique structural characteristics such as their remoteness from continental markets and the associated costs, the smallness of their size and population, their limited natural resources endowments and their vulnerability to environmental and climate changes, Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Sao Tome and Principe have to grapple with specific challenges and difficulties.  

With the invited key economic players of Sao Tome and Principe, the workshop will seek to define and design solid AfCFTA response strategies that will address the specific needs of the country’s economy.

It should be noted that during the awareness raising campaign organised last April 8 in Sao Tome and Principe, Mr. Antonio Pedro, Director of the Sub-Regional Office for Central Africa of the ECA, said that in light of the opportunities afforded by the AfCFTA, the ECA was “ready to help the Government of Sao Tome and Principe in achieving its vision of making the country a continental blue economy reference” given its geographical location in the Atlantic Ocean.  

“Your services and fisheries industry can act as pillar for structural transformation of your country. For this to happen, you need to carry out targeted investments to grow the industry. It will also be necessary to improve quality assurance and standards, to better position the country in the value chain and ensure coherence between youth education policy and the country’s development needs”, he noted.  


AfCFTA and the efforts to be made by African countries

Since 30 May 2019, the agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is operational and trade under this agreement will commence on 1 July 2010 upon the dismantling of customs duties. Africa is pursuing its economic integration as stated in Agenda 2063: the goal of an Africa without borders is to boost regional trade through industrialization, healthy economic growth and greater sustainable development.

The potential gains of the AfCFTA imply a new model for African trade and development. It is obvious that the gains will not be automatic. The AfCFTA will yield expected results only if member States take deliberate action and deploy needful efforts through national reform strategies. Such strategies must be efficient and integrated in order to maximize the gains of the AfCFTA, while minimizing adjustment costs.

This end October 2019 workshop is part of a larger EU-financed ECA project that aims to support Small Island Developing States (SIDS) leverage the free-trade agreement. 



Media Contacts

Abel Akara Ticha - Communication Officer

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

637, rue 3.069, Quartier du Lac, Yaounde

Tel: 237 222504348



Shamnaaz B. Sufrauj

International consultant

Regional Integration & Trade Division

United Nations Economic Commission for Africa

Menelik II Avenue, P.O. Box 3001, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Tel: +251 11544 4519