The modernisation of São Tomé airport will be “one of the major projects since independence” of São Tomé and Príncipe and will boost tourism, the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China Wang Wei said in an interview due to be published in Macao Magazine in September.
The ambassador pointed out that the main factor preventing the arrival and departure of more or larger planes is the airport runway, “so we are studying how we can help by carrying out this work as quickly as possible in order to improve infrastructure in the country and ensure a better connection to the outside.”
São Tomé Prime Minister Jorge Bom Jesus said in a recent interview with Macauhub that studies on the expansion and modernisation of the new airport “are already well advanced” and that work should start between late 2019 and early 2020.
China will also finance the studies of the new port of São Tomé, which will initially have a commercial and fishing focus, but which the government intends to expand in the future.
Wang Wei said now that the “possibility” of the port work “is still being studied” and that it is “more delayed” than that of the airport.
The Chinese diplomat said tourism was the sector with the greatest potential for Chinese investment and that investment interest was revived with the 14th Business Meeting between China and Portuguese-speaking Countries in July in São Tomé, two years after the resumption of Sino-São Tomé relations and the archipelago’s accession to Forum Macau.
“I talked to several Chinese businesspeople and they are very interested. The only problem is the distance. Travelling from Macau here is not easy. It’s the geographical distance… but I believe the will and interconnection of interests will overcome the difficulties, which are fleeting,” Wang Wei told Macauhub.
In addition to investing in tourism, Chinese entrepreneurs are interested in “improving both agricultural and handicraft products.”
The Chinese diplomat also recalled that the Chinese government has made several donations to São Tomé and Principe, having paid for the recovery of three roads and the drainage of a swamp near the capital and a social housing project in several districts near the capital is about to begin.
China has four technical assistance teams in the country, namely agriculture and livestock, energy, anti-malaria and medical staff.
Wang Wei added that São Tomé and Príncipe, “if it wishes,” is “very welcome” to join the Belt and Road initiative, like other Portuguese-speaking African countries such as Cabo Verde. (Macauhub)