Supporting the Telecommunication Sector – São Tomé and Príncipe along with other two Fragile States, Liberia and Sierra Leone are some of the countries with the highest costs of communications in the world, which is believed to significantly hamper opportunities for growth and development in West and Central Africa. These countries were the first beneficiaries of the IDA support to the Africa Coast to Europe cable thru the IDA West Africa Regional Communications Infrastructure Program Project; the development objective of which is to increase the geographical reach of broadband networks and dramatically reduce costs of communications services in West Africa. The Gambia, Guinea, Benin, and Gabon followed. WBG support to seven countries under the Africa Coast to Europe (ACE) cable, a private sector led consortium, has resulted in the construction of approximately 17,000 km submarine cable system that connects South Africa to Europe, potentially connecting up to 23 countries along the route. The ACE is an over $700 million investment, with each country contributing approximately $25 million to secure a landing station in its territory.
Following the requests from the governments, IDA was able to mobilize resources to enable these countries to make initial payments to join the ACE project on time. Overall, IDA’s approved $52.6 million for the countries to participate in ACE, and also additional financing for complementary activities. IDA’s funds helped leverage additional private sector resources to benefit from this unique opportunity to provide citizens of these countries with affordable broadband. Within the few months of its operation, the submarine is already contributing to lower prices for enterprises and the private sector in general, providing them digital communications tools to become effective players in the Africa region as well as in the global economy. Along with infrastructure, IDA is helping the countries modernize policy and regulatory frameworks and develop public-private participation frameworks to continue leveraging private investment into the telecommunications sector. In STP, the project has provided technical assistance to government for introduction of competition and a second telecommunications license has just been awarded.
Improving Transparency – Significant progress in improving transparency, fostering competition and improving the business environment has been made by the government of STP with the support of the WBG, namely IFC’s advisory and technical assistance. In 2012 STP was the third-strongest reformer in the world in the Open Budget Index (OBI) thanks to substantial reforms in the area of budget transparency and accountability: STP improved its OBI score from 0 to 29, out of 100, jumping 25 places to rank 62nd in the world. Furthermore, improvements in the investment climate earned STP a spot among the top-ten worldwide reformers in the 2012 Doing Business report, and a spot in the top 50 worldwide reformers from 2005-2013 in the 2013 DB report; STP became the world’s top reformer in terms of business freedom in the 2012 Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom and jumped 28 positions, from 100th place to 72nd in the world on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, well above the average for the Sub-Saharan Africa region.
Support to Education – The Social Sector Support Project and its Additional Financing Operation, financed in part by the Education for All-Fast Track Initiative (EFA/FTI) Catalytic Fund Grant (now Global Partnership for Education Fund), have exceeded the targets these project had set out to achieve for STP. Examples of those gains include the current Gross Enrollment Rate (GER), estimated at 121%, and the completion rate in primary education at 64%. The ‘survival’ rate from first to sixth grade rose to 66.7% in 2009, from 47% in 2003, and the transition rate from fourth to fifth grade increased to 84.2% from 60% in the same period. The percentage of schools working on a triple shift regimen has dropped to eight from 27 in 2003, and the ratio of one textbook per student has been achieved.
Support to the Health Sector – The health sector is also demonstrating encouraging results, particularly in the areas of maternal health and child health care. Most of the original project indicators have also been reached or surpassed. The proportion of births attended by skilled professionals increased to 86% in 2009 from 70% in 2003 (surpassing the project target of 85%) as a result of improvements in service delivery, particularly in rural areas. At the same time, the proportion of pregnant women receiving antenatal care increased from 65% to 82.3% during the same period. Progress was also registered in child health care. The immunization rate for measles in 2009 is at 93.1%, and São Tomé and Príncipe has been a success story on the malaria front: the incidence of the disease in children under five years old has decreased to 34 per 1,000 in 2009 from 1,273 per 1,000 in 2004, primarily as a result of the use of bed nets, and the treatment of malaria cases with a combination of amodiaquine and artesunate. Mortality from malaria has dropped to close to zero in 2009. The HIV prevalence among pregnant women has dropped from 5.4% at the beginning of the project to an estimated 1.5% in 2009, although some concerns still remain. Civil society organizations have also played an important role in project implementation.
Support to Climate Change Mitigation – The Climate Change Mitigation Operation has been providing coastal early warning systems and safety at sea so artisanal fishermen can adapt to the adverse impacts of climate variability. This is done through disseminating timely forecasts prior to extreme events, distributing safety equipment and training on safety at sea, and reinforcing coastal community emergency preparedness. The operation also addresses coastal erosion and inundation by piloting participatory coastal adaptation measures in vulnerable fishing communities, and develops public awareness and improved coastal resilient policies.
Transparency in Public and Natural Resources Sectors – São Tomé and Príncipe is focusing on building institutional and legal capacity to improve economic management and to strengthen accountability of public and natural resources. Support from Bank projects has helped STP to strengthen the governance in the fisheries sector, improve the dissemination and quality of budget documents, promote fiscal stability, and strengthen public sector management. As a result of these efforts, the recent Open Budget Index of 2012, for example, highlights STP as the third top reformer in the world during the 2010-2012 periods. Additionally, for the first time after almost two decades, STP prepared and submitted the 2010 Public Accounts of the State. A new operation is under preparation to continue Bank assistance in these areas and further strengthen economic governance in natural and public resources.
Last Updated: Oct 10, 2014