Economy of Saint Helena
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The economy of Saint Helena is based on export income from coffee, tourism, fishing, and sales of alcoholic liqueurs. Unemployment is very low in Saint Helena; the February 2016 Census stated that 76 people declared that they were unemployed (with 10 claiming unemployment benefit) compared to an economically active population of 2,539 and a total population of 4,534. Saint Helena is one of two countries which depend on financial assistance from the United Kingdom, which amounted to about £22.5 million in 2016/17. This supplements the £12.6 million raised from local tax revenues.
The international airport has been open for private jets and Medivac services since 2016. A scheduled commercial air service began in October 2017. With a total investment of £285m the airport is the largest single investment ever made in the island. Until 2016, the only way to reach the island was by boat. The last working Royal Mail Ship made its final voyage serving St Helena in 2018..
Saint Helena's gross domestic product (GDP) for the 2014/15 financial year was £33.5 million and gross national product (GNP) was £32.3 million, GDP per capita was £7,392 and GNP per capita was £7,133.
The major private sector employers of the islands are Solomons and Co and Thorpes, both providing services in almost all sectors.
Saint Helena possesses fisheries, agriculture (including coffee), construction, retail, and accommodation and food service industries.
75% of St Helena's power currently comes from 6 diesel generators, but the island is working towards a 100% renewable energy target. There are currently 8 wind turbines, and a number of solar systems. The rifle range solar farm currently has the largest output of the solar systems with 500 kWh.
The 2014–15 customs data shows the following exports:
- Fisheries (87% of export economy)
- Coffee (8% of export economy)
- Alcohol (3% of export economy)
Food and other goods are imported from Cape Town, South Africa and the UK (via Ascension). Shipping is run by AW Ship Management Ltd. Packages can be sent via Richard James International or by Royal Mail (by Royal Mail anything under 2kg will go by air). Wharf services are provided by Solomons.
There is no ATM on island, so cash must be withdrawn from the Bank of Saint Helena cashiers in Jamestown (Monday-Saturday) or at Customs at the wharf (Thursday-Friday). Trials of local debit cards by the bank of Saint Helena began in 2016.