The archipelago of the Comoros is located in the Indian Ocean, north of the Mozambique Channel and northeast of Madagascar.
Absent from the political scene since 2006, Azali Assoumani came back and won the presidential elections in 2016. His government introduced a series of fiscal and structural reforms. The national congress, convened in February 2018 to review 42 years of independence and the Presidential Rotation system among the islands, recommended an overhaul of the system of a rotating presidency. Assoumani’s mandate was renewed in 2019 after the yes vote in the July 2018-referendum on constitutional reform that expands the power of the presidency.
While the spread of the virus in the Comoros seems to be contained so far, economic activity has strongly slowed. Prior to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, the Comoros was still recovering from Cyclone Kenneth (April 2019), with gross domestic product (GDP) growth having fallen to 1.9% in 2019 as a result, from 3.6% in 2018. The pandemic will likely offset the positive impacts from reconstruction efforts after the cyclone, with real GDP growth expected to contract sharply to -1.4% in 2020 (compared to a pre-COVID-19 forecast of 4.4%).
The COVID-19 health crisis is impacting Comoros’ economy through various channels. The slowdown of economic activity due to social distancing measures and the disruption of trade and tourism caused by the pandemic constitutes a threat for Comoros’ trade and tourism-related sectors. The expected drop of remittances from the diaspora would substantially reduce households’ income, especially the poorer ones. Revenues from trade, which represent the bulk of the government’s domestic resources, will decrease significantly raising the fiscal deficit.
The fiscal and external financing gaps that COVID-19 pandemic will create are expected to be covered primarily by donor assistance, given still limited borrowing possibilities, with public debt sustainability remaining at moderate levels despite the shock. However, the Comoros’ recovery is subject to several vulnerabilities. The current fragile situation of the SNPSF, a money transfer service, could take a sudden turn for the worse and seriously jeopardize financial stability. The possible deterioration of the financial health of state-owned enterprises such as Comoros Telecom could aggravate the fiscal stance. Notwithstanding, the full economic consequences of COVID-19 are still unclear and subject to high uncertainty around the spread of the disease domestically, as well as overseas.
The Comoros is densely populated, with approximately 465 inhabitants per km2, and more than half of the population (53%) is under the age of 20.
High population density places intense pressure on natural resources and the environment. Due to its location and topography Comoros is among the most climate vulnerable countries in the world, and 54.2 percent of the population live in at-risk areas.
Nearly one fourth of the population is extremely poor, unable to buy enough food to meet the minimum nutritional requirements of 2,200 kilocalories per person per day. One-fourth of the country’s poor citizens currently live just below the national poverty line, and could move out of poverty if their consumption level increased by around KMF 167 per capita (or $0.37) per day. However, about 10% of the population is at risk of falling below the national poverty line in the event of unexpected economic shocks.
While the Comoros compares reasonably well with lower middle-income countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the country’s Human Capital Index—at 0.41—lags behind the global average for lower-middle income countries. Children in the Comoros can expect to complete 8.4 years of schooling by age 18. Girls receive significantly less education than boys, and the rate of adolescent pregnancies is two to three-times that of aspirational peer countries. Chronic malnutrition leads to 31 out of 100 children growing up stunted, which aggravates existing inequalities in the country.
Last Updated: Aug 31, 2020