The Union of Comoros is an archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, north of the Mozambique Channel and northeast of Madagascar.
After a decade of absence from the political scene, Azali Assoumani won the 2016 presidential elections. The Government introduced a series of fiscal and structural reforms amidst a stable political climate. 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 through potential constitutional reforms.
There was an uptick in economic growth, from 2.2% in 2016 to 2.5% in 2017, caused primarily by improvement of the electricity supply and an increase in emigrant remittances. Private consumption remained the main engine of growth on the demand side. Public investments were geared toward the rehabilitation of priority roads (for example, the road linking the airport to the city center) and private investment exhibited momentum, particularly with the implementation of two hotel rehabilitation and expansion projects.
Real GDP growth is projected to increase slightly to 3% on average during the 2018-2020 period as a result of emigrant remittances and private consumption. Remittances from emigrants are expected to benefit from the economic recovery in France where the vast majority of the Comorian diaspora lives. Although the business climate is not expected to improve significantly, a number of positive developments are anticipated in the private sector, like the arrival of Turkish Airways and, in the telecommunications sector, liberalization of the internet service provider market and construction of a second undersea cable landing station.
The volatility of external grant aid, low domestic revenue collection, and existing expenditure pressures risk worsening public debt. This is particularly true against the backdrop of a weak budget framework. Moreover, maintaining a stable energy supply is proving to be a major challenge. Although the energy supply has improved, government subsidization of electricity production may not be sustainable. Lastly, the current process of overhauling the system of rotating the presidency among the islands is being met with resistance and poses a major political risk.
With almost 400 inhabitants per square kilometer, the Comoros is densely populated, and over half of its population (53%) is under the age of 20.
According to the last household survey conducted in 2014, almost 18% of the population lives under 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.
The Comoros, which was ranked 160 (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 5 suffered from chronic malnutrition and stunted growth.
Furthermore, infant mortality remains high, with a rate of 36 per 1,000 births for children under the age of one and 15 per 1,000 births for children under the age of five, recorded in 2012.
The maternal mortality rate stands at 172 deaths per 100,000 live births.
Last Updated: May 17, 2018