Comoros Economic Outlook

  • The energy crisis restrained economic growth to under 1.1% in 2015.
  • Saudi Arabian budget support and the resumption of electricity generation should push growth to 4.1% in 2016 and 2017.
  • As a small-island developing state, rapid urbanisation is a threat to peace in the Comoros, where there are few job opportunities for young people.

Since reaching its completion point under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative in December 2012, the Comoros has returned to economic growth. Nevertheless, the archipelago still faces major obstacles, including a poorly diversified economy, electricity shortages and vulnerability to external shocks. The power generation crisis penalises tax-paying sectors such as importers of frozen goods and large retail outlets, which have accumulated salary arrears. Despite these constraints, the Comorian economy has rebounded, with positive growth rates since 2012. Growth in 2016 will depend largely on two factors: the political climate, with presidential elections taking place in April, and the solutions adopted in response to the energy crisis. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) initially projected growth of 2.2% in 2016, but that was before the Comoros received huge budget support from Saudi Arabia on 31 December and Chinese technical assistance for the energy sector to the tune of EUR 4 million. Forecasters are now projecting 4.1% growth in 2016 and 2017 thanks to the gradual recovery of electricity generation, and more importantly, the impact of Saudi Arabian budget support on household consumption.

The political situation is still marked by the electoral process that began in February 2015, when a general election, municipal elections, and island council elections were held. This process concluded with the second round of presidential elections on 18 April 2016 on all the islands. The first round took place on 21 February only on Grande Comore, which will hold the rotating presidency until 2021. The latest rulings by the Constitutional Court on the eligibility of candidates confirmed that democracy is established.

The Comoros moved up five places to 154th out of 189 countries in the 2016 edition of the World Bank’s annual Doing Business report. Some 45% of the population live below the poverty line, and the Comoros is ranked 159th out of 187 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index, falling well short of achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).