Sao Tome and Principe: World Bank Boosts Improvements in the Banking System, Access to Finance

The World Bank approved $7 million to support the government of Sao Tome and Principe to continue making improvements in the banking system, access to finance, and national statistics. This additional financing for the ongoing Institutional Capacity Building Project will help scale-up activities with the Central Bank of Sao Tome and Principe and support system modernizations as part of the COVID-19 mitigation response.

While digital payment systems have seen a significant improvement in recent years Sao Tome and Principe, coverage is still very limited, and the financial infrastructure remains underdeveloped and unreliable, constraining access to payment services, particularly in rural areas and on the island of Príncipe. This inhibits digital payment and collection of taxes, payment of utility bills, wages and pensions, and disbursement of welfare benefits.

“A modern and efficient financial system is crucial for a country’s sustained development. It is, therefore, vital for STP to maintain the relevant gains of improving its financial system, particularly as it will be an added value for the tourism industry, which generates a lot of economic activity and is highly dependent on digital payment systems,” said Jean-Christophe Carret, World Banck Country Director to STP, “In addition, a modern financial system is also key for financial inclusion,” he added.

The additional financing comes at a crucial time as it will support the government’s response to COVID-19, using digital payments to scale-up social protection programs and promote financial inclusion. With this AF the Bank’s overall contribution to the project will be US$19 million.

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