COUNTRIES BRIEFS Newsletter ISSN 1563-4108

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Chamber of commerce and industries THE UNION OF THE COMOROS

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The Union of the Comoros (Formerly The Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros) (short name: Comoros) is located in Southern Africa. It is made of a group of islands strategically stretched at the northern end of "Mozambique Channel", about two-thirds of the way between northern Madagascar and northern Mozambique

Geographic coordinates: 12 10 S, 44 15 E

Total area: 2,170 sq. km (approximately 7.6 time the size of Singapore)

Coastline: 340 km

Population: 630,400 (July 2003 est.) 630,0 (July 2003) Population growth rate: 2.96% (2003)

Age structure: 0-14 years: 43%; 15-64 years: 54%; 65 years and over: 3%

Capital: Moroni

Independence from France: July 6, 1975
National holiday: Independence Day: July 6
Constitution: December 23, 2001

Natural resources:

Agriculture productions: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava

Industrial productions: tourism, perfume distillation, textiles, furniture, jewelry, construction materials, soft drinks

Comoros is made up of three islands: Grande Comore, Anjouan and Moheli with a young and rapidly increasing population as above outlined.

Comoros has the record of coups in Africa - 19 since the independence from France in 1975 - the last one dating back to April 1999

These repetitive coups hit hard on the country's economy and the integrity of the initial territory of Comoros. In spite of the very few miles - 30 to 60 maximum - of sea waters separating the several islands of the Union, no adequate transportation links have been established between them. Consequently, the populations have not been integrated to become "one". The awareness of Comorian citizenship is blurred.

Each Island feels "free"; not tightly bound to the others. Local ambitious politicians play on that "freedom" and encourage separatism. The population of Anjouan and Moheli, which declared, in 1997, their independence from Comoros. A subsequent attempt by the " federal" government to force the separatists back to its ruling failed.

In 1999, military chief Col. Azali Assoumani seized power. He managed to resolve the secessionist crisis through dialogue with political leaders of the main islands. He proposed a confederal arrangement named the 2000 Fomboni Accord.

Azali's relentless efforts to bring the islands together brought fruit and lead in December 2001, to the approval by voters of a new constitution. Presidential elections took place in the spring of 2002. Each island in the archipelago elected its own president and a new union president (Azali) was sworn in on 26 May 2002.

December 23, 2001 vote / Referendum granted greater autonomy to the main islands (Anjouan, Mwali and Ngazidja). These Islands are now ruled by "self government" regional councils led by regional presidents.

The final round of polls held on April 25, 2004 for 18 of the 33 seats in a federal assembly created by a devolution process aimed at bringing an end to over two decades of political instability yields astounding defeat for the presidential party. Consequently, Comoros' three island governments gain more power at the expense of Azali's union government (established on July 2004).

Indeed, the Union has four governments and a plethora of political institutions. Further, the union's presidency is set on a rotating basis, which means a representative of one of the islands would be - every four years - the Union's president.

The institutional crisis dragged on for 7 years (1997-2004). During said period international "peace brokers" - the African Union and South Africa in particular - had done their best to help Comorians to establish institutional binding rules.

Would these institutional changes finally bring political stability to the Union? Let us wait and see. Azali mandate is due to end in 2006 and one will see if the rotating arrangement to the presidency of the Union shall hold.

Would the ruling politicians play a fair game and abide to the new institutional arrangement? If they do not and in the contrary continue to play the dirty political fights that led the former Federal entity to the verge of disintegrating, they may loose international credibility.

If that happens, the economy that heavily depends on infusion of external financial aids would drastically suffer from the lack of interest from aid organizations and investors.

Agriculture, including fishing, hunting, and forestry, is the leading sector of the economy. It contributes 40% to GDP, employs 80% of the labor force, and provides most of the exports. The country is not self-sufficient in food production; rice, the main staple, accounts for the bulk of imports.

The Union's budget heavily depends on foreign grants and contributions. And imports represents more than four times exports. (Scroll down to see figures below).

Since seizing power in a coup (April 1999) Col. Azali Assoumani, reduced the number of public sector employees and cut salaries of top civil servants, slashing the overall payroll by about 24 percent. Civil service cutbacks had been a key demand of donors.

Assoumani's government is struggling to upgrade education and technical training (neglected over years), to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate.

There are two business opportunities sectors in the Comoros: fishing and tourism. The systematic development of sport fishing and industrial fishing (Click here to view a business opportunity linked to the industrial farming of fish) will undoubtedly help in increasing the revenues of the national budget.


1- Lemurs of Madagascar & Comoros
by Carolyn Harcourt
2- Comoros
Business And Invesment Opportunities
by USA International Business Publications
3- The Comoros Islands
Struggle Against Dependency In The Indian Ocean
by Malyn Newitt
4- Visitors'Guide To Comoros & Seychelles
By Marco Turco

Click to contact Dr. Bienvenu-Magloire Quenum



US$ 141.9 million (2000); 145 million (2001) 185 million (2003)
GNP-real growth rate: 0.5% (2000); 1% (2001) 3% (2003) 1.8 (2004)
GNP-per capita: US$ 240 (2000); 292 (2003)

Click here for the difference between GNP and Parity Purchasing Power

GDP-composition by sector

  1. agriculture: 40%

  2. industry: 4%
  3. services: 56%

Exports: US$ 7.9. million (f.o.b., 2000) 16.3 million (f.o.b., 2002 est.)
Commodities: vanilla, ylang-ylang, cloves, perfume oil, copra

Imports: US$ 39.8 million (f.o.b., 2002)
Commodities: rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods; petroleum products, cement, transport equipment



There are very few Comoros' diplomatic representations around the world.

A passport and onward / return ticket are required. A three-week entry visa, which may be extended, may be obtained upon arrival at the airport.

Travelers should obtain the latest details from Missions abroad of the Federal Islamic Republic of the Comoros' Missions abroad - available at following link.

Permanent Mission of the Comoros
to the United Nations

336 E. 45th St., 2d Floor
New York N.Y. 10017
Tel: +(1) 212 972-8010
Fax: +(1) 983-4712
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Air-France, Air-Mauritius, Air-Madagascar, KLM and British Airways service Moroni. A private company: AIR ARCHIPEL COMORES links the archipelago with the surrounding countries and the Emirates in particular: Email: Click here There are regular connections to the Comoros from France. Click here for more.

Fonds d'Appui
Au Développement Communautaire (FADC)
Route Hadoudja
P.O BOX 249
The Union of the Comoros

Tel: +(269) 73 28 82
Fax: +(269) 73 28 82
Email: Click here
Office National d'Importation et de Commercialisation du Riz (ONOCOR)
P.O Box 748
Moroni Itsamboumi
The Union of the Comoros

Tel: +(269) 73 03 70
Fax: +(269) 73 58 08
Email: Click here
Chamber of Commerce and Industries
Click here to review funding available to rebuild power generation system

There are few hotels of international standard as the two below listed. For more, please visit following link which manages booking for the Comoros

B.P. 1027
Grande Comores
Tel: +(269) 73 23 16
Fax: +(269) 73 23 09
B.P. 1027
Grande Comores
Tel: +(269) 78 81 18
Fax: +(269) 78 82 50

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