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Economy of Comoros

Economy - overview: One of the world's poorest countries, Comoros is made up of three islands that have inadequate transportation links, a young and rapidly increasing population, and few natural resources. The low educational level of the labor force contributes to a subsistence level of economic activity, high unemployment, and a heavy dependence on foreign grants and technical assistance. 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 government is struggling to upgrade education and technical training, to privatize commercial and industrial enterprises, to improve health services, to diversify exports, to promote tourism, and to reduce the high population growth rate. Continued foreign support is essential if the goal of 4% annual GDP growth is to be met.

Comoros, with an estimated gross domestic product (GDP) per capita income of about $700, is among the world's poorest and least developed nations. Although the quality of the land differs from island to island, most of the widespread lava-encrusted soil formations are unsuited to agriculture. As a result, most of the inhabitants make their living from subsistence agriculture and fishing.

Agriculture, involving more than 80% of the population and 40% of the gross domestic product, provides virtually all foreign exchange earnings. Services including tourism, construction, and commercial activities constitute the remainder of the GDP. Plantations engage a large proportion of the population in producing the islands' major cash crops for export: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, and copra. Comoros is the world's leading producer of essence of ylang-ylang[?], used in manufacturing perfume. It also is the world's second-largest producer of vanilla. Principal food crops are coconuts, bananas, and cassava. Foodstuffs constitute 32% of total imports.

The country lacks the infrastructure necessary for development. Some villages are not linked to the main road system or at best are connected by tracks usable only by four-wheel-drive vehicles. The islands' ports are rudimentary, although a deepwater facility was recently completed on Anjouan. Only small vessels can approach the existing quays in Moroni on Grande Comore[?], despite recent improvements. Long-distance, ocean-going ships must lie offshore and be unloaded by smaller boats; during the cyclone season, this procedure is dangerous, and ships are reluctant to call at the island. Most freight is sent first to Mombasa or Reunion and transshipped from there.

France, Comoros' major trading partner, finances small projects only. The United States receives a growing percentage of Comoros' exports but supplies only a negligible fraction of its imports (less than 1%).

Comoros has an international airport at Hahaya[?] on Grande Comore. It is a member of the franc zone (Communaute Financiere Africaine[?]--CFA), with an exchange rate of 546 CFA francs=U.S.$1 (2001).

GDP: purchasing power parity - $410 million (1998 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 0% (1998 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $725 (1998 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 40%
industry: 5%
services: 55% (1997 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4% (1998)

Labor force: 144,500 (1996 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture 80%, government 3%

Unemployment rate: 20% (1996 est.)

revenues: $48 million
expenditures: $53 million, including capital expenditures of $NA (1997)

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 15 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 86.67%
hydro: 13.33%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 14 million kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: vanilla, cloves, perfume essences, copra, coconuts, bananas, cassava (tapioca)

Exports: $9.3 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

Exports - commodities: vanilla, ylang-ylang[?], cloves, perfume oil, copra

Exports - partners: France 43%, United States 43%, Germany 7% (1997)

Imports: $49.5 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

Imports - commodities: rice and other foodstuffs, consumer goods; petroleum products, cement, transport equipment

Imports - partners: France 59%, South Africa 15%, Kenya 6% (1997)

Debt - external: $197 million (1997 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $28.1 million (1997)

Currency: 1 Comoran franc (CF) = 100 centimes

Exchange rates: Comoran francs (CF) per US$1 - 485.44 (January 2000), 461.77 (1999), 442.46 (1998), 437.75 (1997), 383.66 (1996), 374.36 (1995)
note: prior to January 1999, the official rate was pegged to the French franc at 75 CFs per French franc; since January 1, 1999, the CF is pegged to the euro at a rate of 491.9677 Comoran francs per euro

Fiscal year: calendar year

See also : Comoros

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