How did poverty-stricken Comoros raise $4 billion to fund tourism?
The country of Comoros is comprised of 3 islands: Ngazidja, Mwali, and Ndzouani. According to The World Bank, about 45 percent of the total population falls below the poverty line.
Inadequate healthcare, poor education, and a rising population are the main contributing factors to the Comoros poverty rate. It is one of the least developed countries in the world, ranking third from last in the 2013 Global Hunger Index.
So how did Comoros raise almost $4 billion in financing, more than threefold the size of its economy, to develop strategic projects on the Indian Ocean island?
The financing was mobilized in investments, debt, and donations at a meeting in Paris this week, Foreign Minister Souef Mohamed El-Amine said in a text-message, without giving details.
President Azali Assoumani led his officials to seek funds to help boost the $1.2 billion economy with investments in infrastructure and tourism, the Economy Minister Houmed Msaidie said earlier. Comoros, an archipelago of 830,000 people between Mozambique and Madagascar, is also rebuilding after the damage caused by Cyclone Kenneth in April.
Assoumani won a second term in office in March after pledging to stimulate economic growth partly by developing the tourism industry. Other projects the Comorians presented at the Paris conference included energy, roads and building of a university hospital.
The meeting was attended by the hosting French government, as well as representatives from China, Japan, and Egypt. The Saudi and Kuwait funds, World Trade Organization and League of Arab States made funding commitments.
Comoros is one of the world’s biggest producers of ylang ylang, an essence used in perfumes, which together with cloves and vanilla accounted for about 90% of its exports in 2018, according to the Comorian central bank.
All visitors to Comoros are required to have a visa. Nationals of any country can obtain a visa on arrival.