Overview

  • The archipelago of the Comoros is located in the Indian Ocean, north of the Mozambique Channel and north-east of Madagascar.

    Political Context

    After being absent from the political scene for 10 years, Azali Assoumani won the 2016 presidential elections. His Government introduced a series of fiscal and structural reforms. The national congress convened in February 2018 to assess conditions after 42 years of independence recommended an overhaul of the system of a rotating presidency among the islands. The yes vote in the July 2018-referendum on constitutional reform that expands the power of the presidency means that it is likely that presidential elections will be held ahead of schedule in 2019.

    Economic Overview

    Projected at 2.7% in 2018, growth should remain stable in relation to 2017, buttressed by steady remittances from the diaspora and certain positive developments in the private sector, (such as the arrival of Turkish Airways). By contrast, political uncertainty, persistent difficulties in the financial sector and the recurrence of power outages are some of the factors that hobble economic activity. Nevertheless, growth is projected to increase steadily to around 3.1 percent over the period 2019-2020, buoyed by remittances from the diaspora that should continue to support private consumption, as well as public investments in infrastructure projects, particularly the construction of the Mutsamudu-Sima roadway and the El-Marouff Hospital. In the medium term, the reconstruction of the Galawa Hotel, which was the country’s largest before its demolition, and the building of a second landing station for submarine fiber optic cables should boost the private sector.

    The capacity of the State to repay its debts could be impaired by a combination of various internal factors related to the grand scale of the infrastructure program and the expected increase in non-concessional debt; as well as by external factors, such as the tightening of financial conditions associated with the hike in interest rates in a number of developed economies and the fact that international investors are becoming increasingly risk averse. Furthermore, unless resources can be identified quickly to recapitalize the Postal Bank (SNPSF - Société nationale des postes et services financiers), the institution’s already weakened financial situation could deteriorate rapidly and affect the Comorian financial system as a whole.

    Social Context

    The Comoros is densely populated, with approximately 400 inhabitants per km2, and more than half of the population (53%) is under the age of 20.

    According to the last household survey conducted in 2014, almost 18% of the population lives below the international poverty line set at $1.9 per capita per day. The incidence of poverty, which varies considerably from one island to another, seems highest in rural areas and on the island of Mohéli. There is considerable inequality, with a Gini index of 44.9.

    Development Challenges

    The Comoros, which was ranked 158 (out of 188) on the U.N.’s Human Development Index in 2016, must focus its efforts on combating hunger and malnutrition.

    In 2012, almost 30% of children under the age of five suffered from chronic malnutrition and stunted growth.

    Furthermore, infant mortality remains high, with a rate of 69 per 1,000 births for children under the age of one and 52.2 per 1,000 births for children under the age of five, recorded in 2017.

    The maternal mortality rate in 2015 was 335 per 100,000 births.

    Last Updated: Jan 11, 2019

  • The Government’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Strategy (SCA2D) for the period 2017-2021 was updated in December 2017 and aims to “make the Comoros an emerging economy by 2030.” To achieve this, the five-year Investment Plan for the period 2016-2021 assigns priority to infrastructure investments, including in the energy and road construction sectors.

    The Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the Comoros, adopted by the World Bank Group and the Comoros in 2014, is based on two priorities:

    • increasing public sector capacity;
    • promoting inclusive growth and job creation in the private sector.

    The objectives of this strategy are aligned with the SCA2D and include total financing of $60 million granted by the International Development Association (IDA), the World Bank fund for the world’s poorest countries.

    In October 2017, the Bank launched national consultations to take stock of its program and to prepare a diagnostic analysis of the economic and social situation of the Comoros (SCD) in preparation for the new Country Partnership Framework (CPF) in 2019. IDA is considering the possibility of increasing its aid to $20 million.

    The World Bank has developed several programs aimed at removing the constraints to economic development. The Bank finances projects for the rehabilitation of the electricity sector (RES - $5 million) and the Coastal Resources Co-management for Sustainable Livelihood Project (CoreCSuD – $2.7 million).

    It is also supporting the Regional Communications Infrastructure Program (RCIP4 – $22 million), the establishment of social safety nets ($6 million) in order to boost the income of the poorest communities, as well as the South West Indian Ocean and Fisheries Governance Project (SWIOFish - $9.5 million).

    In late 2016, the World Bank approved a $2.5 million grant to strengthen statistical systems in the Comoros in order to carry out the fourth general census and the new Household and Poverty Survey.

    The World Bank is currently preparing new projects in the areas of solar energy, value chains, health, finance and competitiveness.

    Lastly, the World Bank is providing considerable technical assistance in the areas of economic and budgetary policy, as well as extensive analytical work.

    Last Updated: Jan 11, 2019

  • The World Bank has contributed to the recent public finance management reforms and improvements in public services. Owing to the technical assistance provided, the inventory of civil servants has been completed and wage payments are now made by a centralized system. The Public Treasury has been reorganized and recently adopted a new financial information management system.

    The World Bank Group supports the social safety nets program and other local development projects designed to reduce rural poverty. This program has helped finance a raft of initiatives in the areas of social protection and nutrition for the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and young people. To date, 22,372 pregnant women, 2,292 adolescents, 8,250 mothers and 11,830 children under five have benefited from basic nutrition services. At least 5,341 infants under 24 months receive food aid and 5,000 individuals receive social assistance.

    Significant progress was made in the telecommunications sector through the RCIP-4 Project which is financing the FLY-LION3 submarine cable. The project has helped promote reforms aimed at the gradual liberalization of the local telecommunications market, notably through the adoption in 2014 of the Communications Law, the authorization of a second operator (Telma Comores) in 2015, and the partial liberalization of the market for Internet Service Providers (ISP).

    Since the launch of the project, the number of mobile telephone users has more than doubled (in relation to the numbers on record at the start of the project), the telecommunications sector has, for the first time, seen rapid private sector-led growth, and the outlook for foreign direct investment (FDI) has improved. The RCIP4 Project received additional financing of $10 million in October 2018 for the development of on-line Government services (e-Government).

    Since the start-up of the energy sector reform support program (PARSE), the commercial performance of the public electricity distribution company (MAMWE) has improved substantially. By the end of 2017, the payment rates for electricity consumption, that were traditionally extremely low and a contributing factor to the commercial losses of MAMWE, increased from 55% to almost 79% (not including prepaid meters) and to 88.7% (when prepaid meters are included).

    Through the Coastal Resources Co-management for Sustainable Livelihood Project (CoreCSuD), financed by the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF), 30 pilot villages benefited from the construction of fisheries infrastructure; 75 community works projects were completed; 17 coastal resources co-management agreements were signed; and capacity building was carried out for fisheries management institutions. Also in the fisheries sector, 31 communities benefited from microprojects under the SWIOFish1 Project.

    In 2018, the Comoros Statistics Project culminated with the success of the fourth General Census on Population and Housing (RGPH). The project provides support for the conduct of a study on poverty and household living conditions, promotes capacity building in the National Statistics Institute and helps fund economic and demographic studies (INSEED).

    Last Updated: Jan 11, 2019

  • Good coordination among donors is essential to maximize development outcomes in a country with very limited capacity. The World Bank is working in close cooperation with the European Union (EU), France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the various UN agencies, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to harmonize donor efforts. 

    Last Updated: Jan 11, 2019

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LENDING

Comoros: Commitments by Fiscal Year (in millions of dollars)*

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments


PHOTO GALLERY

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Additional Resources

Country Office Contacts

Main Office Contact
1 Rue Andriamifidy
BP 4140
Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
+261-20-22-560-00
For general information and inquiries
Diana Styvanley
Communications Officer
+261320500127
dstyvanley@worldbank.org
For project-related issues and complaints
comorosalert@worldbank.org