Portuguese investors are setting their sights on São Tomé and Príncipe due to the economic crisis that is dogging Angola, even though businessmen in the tiny archipelago warn the country is not “big enough” to be considered a valid alternative to Angola.
“Those who think investing in São Tomé is a good alternative to Angola are wrong,” says Ricardo Costa, who runs car and construction materials businesses in São Tomé.
“The country is so small,” he says, that the only way businesses can thrive is if their owner moves to the country and “controls everything himself”, trying to keep costs to a minimum.
An example of this is António Cristóvão, owner of Intermar, one of São Tomé’s main importers of Portuguese products.
He moved to São Tomé 19 years ago in search of “a place to invest in” and has built a successful business supplying hotels and restaurants with everything from “salt and sugar to flour” from Portugal.
While he confirms that many Portuguese are looking to São Tomé, he warns that the “market is very small”, especially for people who expect to quickly win back the money they invested.
São Tomé and Príncipe Prime Minister Patrice Trovoada said that Portuguese investment is “welcome” even though he lamented that it is fuelled by problems in another Portuguese-speaking country.
“We are sorry about the crisis affecting our brothers (Angola), but our option is to try to diversify our economy as a diversified economy can resist external issues better,” he said.