Political Context

Constitutional reforms adopted in 2009 represented a turning point in the development of the Comoros, transforming relations between the islands, significantly reducing tensions, and improving the prospects for greater stability. The amendments adjusted the autonomy of the islands, converted the island presidents to governors, and reaffirmed the unity of the state and the role of the federal government.

Presidential elections were held in late 2010, with President Ikililou Dhoinine taking office in May 2011. Following these elections, the country has enjoyed political stability and the Government has initiated a series of economic reforms. Comoros has now entered a new electoral cycle: elections for Union Deputies, Island Advisors, and Local Mayors were held in February 2015 and presidential elections have been announced for February 2016. A smooth elections process would help consolidate the political stability of the country and would enable the incoming government to focus on a continuous reform program in the Comoros.

Economic Overview

Recent economic developments point to a deteriorating economic situation as growth slows and the Comorian franc depreciates. Comoros has a small and undiversified economy. While the economy had showed signs of recovery after years of political instability, achieving an eight-year high in terms of economic growth at 3.5% in 2013, conditions since then have deteriorated with growth slowing to 2.1% in 2014. Severe shortages in electricity supply and sluggish progress in the implementation of structural reforms presented a drag on all sectors of the economy. Slowing growth has been accompanied by a rapid depreciation of the Comorian franc by approximately 24% since June 2014, placing a strain on the import capacity of this highly import-dependent economy, and increasing pressure on domestic prices. For these reasons, the fiscal outlook is fragile.

Social Context

Comoros has a dense population of about 390 inhabitants per square kilometer. With a population growth rate estimated at 2.4%, the population is projected to reach one million in twelve years and to more than double by the year 2050. More than half of the population (53%) is younger than 20 years of age.

Poverty and unemployment are widespread in Comoros, particularly amongst women. New poverty estimates are currently being prepared by the Comoros statistics agency with support from the World Bank, and are due by end 2015. The most recent poverty data date back to 2004, when the poverty rate was estimated at 46.1% (based on a poverty line at $1.25 a day, 2005 PPP equivalent) and was observed to be primarily concentrated in rural areas. World Bank projections indicate that the poverty rate is likely to have declined slightly. This slow progress may be explained by the commodity price shocks and global economic downturn of the 2007-2012 period, which are likely to have had a lasting negative impact on household welfare, whilst steady urban migration may have exacerbated poverty in crowded urban suburbs.

The incidence of poverty varies significantly across the islands and is generally higher in rural areas and in Anjouan.

Development Challenges

Comoros ranked 159th out of 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index in 2014. Progress has been made on several of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Comoros is on track to achieve the universal primary education goal and HIV/AIDS, with little progress on poverty and water access. The country also made progress toward reducing child mortality and maternal health, indicators that many other countries have found very difficult to achieve. One of the most challenging targets, especially in the wake of the food price crisis, will be to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015

World Bank Group Engagement in Comoros

Comoros adopted in May 2014 its new strategy for growth and poverty reduction (SCA2D) for the 2015-2019 periods. The SCA2D was prepared through a broad participatory process and provides a framework for medium-term development to lay the foundations for the realization of the vision of the authorities which is "to make the Comoros an emerging country by 2040, respectful of human rights, promoting gender equality and the rule of law." The overall objectives are:

  • Strengthen the foundations of a highly viable, sustainable, equitable, and inclusive economic growth;
  • Improve the quality of life of the population and ensure equity in access to basic social services;
  • Promote natural and cultural heritage and the optimal use of natural resources;
  • Promote good governance and resilience to political fragility.

In support of the SCA2D, the World Bank Group adopted a new Country Partnership Strategy (CPS) for the Comoros in 2014. The Bank-supported program (knowledge, finance, and partnership) is structured around two pillars: (i) increased public sector capacity; and (ii) shared growth and increased employment.

These strategic priorities are aligned with the SCA2D and contribute directly to the objectives of reducing extreme poverty and increasing shared prosperity in Comoros. The strategy covers the period of 2014-2017 and outlines a total indicative IDA financing program for the CPS period of $60 million, including regional IDA resources.

In September 2013, two financing agreements between the World Bank and the Union of Comoros were approved by the Bank: a grant for the Recovery of the Electricity Sector (RES) of $5 million and another grant for the Regional Communication Infrastructure Project (RCIP4) of $22 million. In the fisheries sector, the World Bank signed a grant agreement for the Co-Management of Coastal Resources for Sustainable Livelihoods (CoreCSuD) for $2.7 million in May 2012. Further financing in the form of trust funds include (1) $358,034 to support development of national statistical system, (2) $475,000 to strengthen its capacity to develop a platform for disaster risk management through the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), and (3) $200,000 to conduct a feasibility study for integrated waste management in the city of Moroni through the Public-Private Infrastructure Advisory Facility.

A programmatic Economic Governance Reform Operation (DPO) in the amount of $3 million per year was approved in May 2014 and June 2015, and aims to strengthen economic management, promote transparency, and enhance performance in electricity and ICT sectors. The World Bank also approved two new projects this year: South West Indian Ocean Fishery Project ($9.5 million in February) and Safety Net Project ($6 million in March).

Technical assistance is also an important part of the partnership between the World Bank and the Comoros and a collection of Policy Notes was produced in 2014. New analyses are now in preliminary draft, including a Public Expenditure Review and Electricity Subsidy model, and new policy notes will be initiated this year on remittances, education and health, and poverty assessment. 

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015

Through its technical assistance provided through the Economic Governance Support project, the Bank has supported the recent reforms in public finance management and the strengthening of the public sector. As a result, the civil servant census is now finalized and salary payments can be made through a single system. Likewise, the Treasury has been re-organized and will also benefit from a new information management system.

The World Bank Group continues to support its community development project which is oriented towards poverty reduction in rural areas through a cash for work program and a community development program. This has provided important interventions to disadvantaged communities and vulnerable groups, including women and youth. It has also increased access to basic schooling for Comoros children and enabled the people of Comoros to participate in the local development process. The Bank continues its supports towards effective implementation of the Recovery Plan for Mamwe, the public electricity utility, and towards the launch of a second full-service telecom license through the PRSE and RCIP4 projects respectively.

The Bank is engaged with the government and the people of Comoros, as well as with other development partners, in knowledge sharing and dialogue on critical issues such as social accountability, public sector reforms and climate change to enable the country to develop foundations for sustainable development.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015

In an environment characterized by large capacity constraints, donor coordination is critical to minimize the government transactions and maximize development outcomes. The World Bank is working closely with the European Commission (EC), France, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations System, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) to harmonize donor efforts and improve results.

Last Updated: Sep 23, 2015


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

*Amounts include IBRD and IDA commitments