Country FilesEast & HornCountry Profile 2014: COMOROS

Thu,26Apr2018

Posted on Thursday, 06 February 2014 11:19

Country Profile 2014: COMOROS

Familiar quarrels in the archipelago

A reduction in debt servicing, combined with increased donor support and sustained investment from Gulf states in strategic sectors like agribusiness, fisheries, transport and tourism, are perking up the islands’ growth forecasts. GDP is set to grow at 3.5% in 2013, up from 2.7% in 2012, and could reach 3.8% in 2014.

 

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> TOP COMORIAN COMPAGNIES

> TOP COMORIAN BANKS

theafricareport-comoros-72dpiFamiliar quarrels in the archipelago

Gulf states lead the way in investment in farming, fisheries, transport and tourism

Politics still revolves around inter-island rivalries, reinforced by regular coup plots

A reduction in debt servicing, combined with increased donor support and sustained investment from Gulf states in strategic sectors like agribusiness, fisheries, transport and tourism, are perking up the islands’ growth forecasts.

GDP is set to grow at 3.5% in 2013, up from 2.7% in 2012, and could reach 3.8% in 2014. The current account deficit is expected to widen however (from 14.7% of GDP in 2012 to 15.8% in 2013), reflecting stronger imports and lower revenues from the controversial sale of Comorian nationality, known as the ‘economic citizenship programme’.

The archipelago’s economy remains relatively unchanged for now, relying primarily on fishing and agriculture. Given the lack of growth in exports, domestic demand, supported by remittances from emigrants (25% of GDP), is the main driver of growth.

Donors are strongly backing reforms to make the economy more competitive and to boost private sector participation; this is as a direct result of the country’s having reached its ‘completion point’ for the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative at the end of 2012.

GREATER INVESTMENTS

The write-off of the country’s multilateral debt and the resulting reduction in debt service payments should allow an increase in public investment of 8.6% of GDP in 2013and9.1% in 2014. Comores Telecom is due to be privatised as part of the HIPC initiative. The issue was due to be debated in parliament in late 2013, with completion in 2014. The tender for a second telecoms licence received five international bids (from regional and Asian companies) and is due to be awarded in 2014. Further boosting the telecoms sector, the World Bank announced a $22m grant in September 2013 to bring faster broadband thanks to a connection to East Africa’s EASSy submarine fibre optic cable.

The World Bank also supported the energy sector with a $5m grant towards the reform of the public electricity utility MA-MWE. This was in addition to a $20m grant from the African Development Bank to finance the rebuilding of the energy sector through improved storage facilities, better commercial management and capacity-building. The project’s goal is to increase electrification and achieve a 40% reduction in the cost of electricity production by 2015 compared to 2012 levels. The tourism sector is also set to receive €9.2m ($12.4m) over the next three years from the UN Development Programme, Agence Française de Développement and the Global Environment Facility.

On the political front, there is the usual level of intense inter-island rivalry, spiced up by plots and rumours of plots. A coup plot that was foiled in April 2013 resembled many of the 20 or so coup attempts the Comoros have experienced since independence in 1975, as it was alleged to involve French backers, foreign mercenaries, Comorian army officers and members of the family of former President Ahmed Abdallah (who held office for much of the 1970s and 1980s).

POLITICAL ROTATION

Despite continuous efforts to ease the ongoing tensions between the islands, there is regular political turbulence. The return to politics of former President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi (who was in office from 2006 to 2011 and is from Anjouan), who preceded current President Ikililou Dhoinine (elected in May 2011 and from Mohéli), along with two cabinet reshuffles in 2013, further exacerbated tensions.

The next elections are not due until 2016 but, under the federal system of rotating the presidency between the islands, the next president should hail from either Grande Comore or Mayotte – the latter still under French rule.

The Comoros have always claimed Mayotte–President Dhoinine reiterated their case at the UN General Assembly in September – and Mahorais are keen to exploit the constitutional provision stating that the country is made up of four islands. Yet, having been in French hands since 1841, Mayotte seems rather more likely to be recognised as the EU’s ninth Outermost Region on 1 January 2014.

Either way, the schedule means Anjouan won’tget back to power until 2021 or even 2026 if Mayotte becomes reincorporated with the islands, which could prove unacceptable for this most independent-minded of the islands.

TOP COMORIAN COMPAGNIES

No companies from Comoros featured in The Africa's Report's Top 500 Companies in Africa 2013.

TOP COMORIAN BANKS

No banks from Comoros featured in The Africa's Report's Top 200 Banks in Africa 2012.



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