Housing Finance in Sao Tome and Principe


This profile is also available in French here.

To download a pdf version of the full 2021 São Tomé and Príncipe country profile, click here.

The Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe (São Tomé and Príncipe) is Sub-Saharan Africa’s smallest country by land surface, consisting of two main islands and several islets, totalling 1 001km². São Tomé and Príncipe had an estimated population of 210 240 people in 2020. High levels of poverty and joblessness have resulted in a housing deficit of 60% although there are no details of a segment breakdown. The World Bank recorded in 2018 that 86% of the population lived in slums or inadequate housing. The country has a high debt level, with a low ratio of tax revenue to Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and as such relies heavily on external support. São Tomé and Príncipe, therefore, have a major housing crisis but do not have government funds to tackle the crisis.

The economy of São Tomé and Príncipe is based mainly on subsistence agriculture and fisheries and relies on foreign grants, which exceeded 10% of GDP in recent years. Exports of goods amounted to only 4% of GDP in 2019. The country is dependent on cocoa, tourism, and hospitality. Public debt rose to 104.9% of GDP in 2020 from 94.8% in 2019, with the current account deficit widening to 17.5% of GDP in 2020 from 16.6% in 2019 due to the reduction in tourism and cocoa receipts. The fiscal deficit was estimated to widen to 5% of GDP in 2020 from 2.4% in 2019 as a result of falling tax revenues. The economy contracted by an estimated 6.4% in 2020, after growing by 2.2% in 2018 and 1.3% in 2019. The contraction in output can be attributed to a sharp decline in the tourism and service sectors, and subdued aggregate demand, mainly due to the restrictions of the COVID-19 lockdown. Decreased demand in the tourism and service sectors also affected the transport, construction, and manufacturing sectors.

[1] Instituto Nacional de Estatistica. Main Indicators. https://www.ine.st/ (Accessed 22 August 2020).

Find out more information on the housing finance sector of Sao Tome and Principe, including key stakeholders, important policies and housing affordability:

Each year, CAHF publishes its Housing Finance in Africa Yearbook. The profile above is from the 2021 edition, which has up-to-date profiles for 55 African countries.


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