Germany and Sao Tome and Principe enjoy good political relations. The country has traditionally shown a keen interest in relations with Germany. Many of Sao Tome and Principe’s leaders – including former President Manuel Pinto da Costa – studied in the former GDR and still feel a strong affinity with Germany, although fewer and fewer of them remain in leadership positions for reasons of age. There is close cooperation with Sao Tome and Principe in international organisations. Relations with the country are looked after by the German Embassy in Libreville, the capital of Gabon, and locally by the German Honorary Consul.
Agriculture (coffee, cocoa and cotton) is the country’s most important economic activity. Fifty-four percent of the population still lives below the poverty line. Ninety percent of the national budget is financed by international donor assistance (IMF, the World Bank, UNDP, the United States, the European Union, Portugal, France, Brazil and the African Development Bank). Sao Tome and Principe’s most important economic partners are Portugal, the European Union, Angola, Belgium, France, Brazil and China.
Economic relations between Germany and Sao Tome and Principe have not yet developed to any significant extent. There is potential for intensifying them, especially if – as long hoped – the country is able to begin producing oil in the Gulf of Guinea. So far, there has been no notable private-sector German investment in Sao Tome and Principe. Recently, however, a few German travel companies have begun offering tours of the country to individual travellers and eco-tourists. The German Embassy funds a number of micro-projects in the areas of rural development and education.
The Universidade de São Tomé e Príncipe has successfully established a German Department thanks to the hard work and support of a teacher of German as a foreign language. Classes began on 18 January 2016 and 25 students are currently enrolled. German is now an official part of the curriculum.