by Benoit AUBENAS
The Federal Islamic Republic of The Comoros celebrated its 15th
anniversary of independence on 6 July this year, but cooperation with the
Community goes further back than that, to the early days of the European
unification process-in 1958. Between then and 25 July 1991, when the LomV
indicative programme was signed, the Community has allocated more than ECU 73
million in programme aid, plus ECU 3.2 million risk capital from the European
Investment Bank, ECU 18 million from Stabex, ECU 16 million-worth of food aid
and ECU 3.5 million assistance for structural adjustment - a total of more than
ECU 118 million.
These figures reveal that Community aid is, one, constant, two,
provided through a number of different instruments and, three, intended to cater
for the economic difficulties of an island country which is one of the least
developed nations and has the world crisis to contend with.
This is summarised in the tables.
Community aid is constant
In 1958, in the early days of the construction of Europe, the
Community helped the then Overseas Territory with a development programme -
active involvement which was to continue and expand in the years which followed.
Under the first three EDFs (1958-75), assistance was given with
basic infrastructure and social facilities (ports, roads, education and health),
but, in 1975, Community aid began to take the form of programmes and this took
off in a big way, with ECU 18 million in 1977-80, ECU 29 million in 1980-85 and
ECU 35 million from 1985.
In the vagaries of the international economic situation, the EEC
has maintained and even stepped up its aid to The Comoros, which despite very
few donors, has a constantly active partner in Community assistance.
Table 1: Summary of aid, 1st-3rd
EDFs, 1958-1975 (Mayotte included)
Table 2: Summary of aid, Lom, 4th
Community aid is varied
The Comoros is in a difficult economic situation. It is
particularly sensitive to changes in the international economy and, having a
volcano and being prey to hurricanes, is the victim of weather too.
Table 3: Aid programme LomI, 5th
It has taken considerable advantage of the various means of
assistance provided by the Lomonvention.
Table 4: EEC - Comoros cooperation
Table 5: Community programme aid
under LomV (7th EDF)
Programme aid has been provided under the successive EDFs for:
- agricultural programmes:
· maize and other food crops to
counter the consumption of imported rice;
small livestock (poultry for the table to replace imported birds);
· artisanal fishing, with a view to making more of the
· integrated project to develop
part of Anjouan Island;
- infrastructure programmes:
· Port of Moroni;
power supplies and telecommunications;
- social programmes:
· water supplies for Moroni;
Mutsamudu and Fomboni.
Stabex payments have been made over and above this to compensate
for earnings lost on vanilla, cloves and essential oils. Food aid (rice, milk
powder, sugar and vegetable oil) has gone some way to making up the food
shortfall which is inevitable in a country where the farmers cannot hope to feed
the constantly expanding (3.4% p.a.) population and emergency aid has provided
immediate help for the victims of hurricanes and volcanic eruption.
In addition to the grants The Comoros gets from the Community,
it derives benefit from the risk capital managed by the European Investment
Bank, which provided an ECU 2 million line of credit to The Comoros Development
Bank for the period of LomII (1985-90). In 1991, all loans were committed to
the building and building materials sector and to food and agriculture.
ECU 3 million has also been provided for The Comoros Development
Bank for 1990-95, this time for one-off schemes in such sectors as
telecommunications as well.
Lastly, The Comoros belongs to various international
organisations (the IOC, CICIBA etc) and therefore gets the benefit of projects
which reduces its isolation and involve it more in international life. Ongoing
discussions of financing to modernise the telecommunications network is also
primed at helping in this respect.
This, then, is a country which will have made the most of the
instruments of cooperation which the Lomonvention offers - and, of course,
made its aid management more complex in the process.
Adapting Community aid
The Comoros has been discussing the rationalisation and
modernisation of its economy with the Washington institutions for several years
and President Dhojar made his priority signing a structural adjustment agreement
with these bodies when he took office in March 1990. The procedure began in
April 1990 and ended in mid-June 1991 with a favourable decision by the Boards
of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.
The structural adjustment programme should help with the
(internal and external) public debt and the vital rationalisation of public
The LomV indicative programme contains special arrangements
for which The Comoros is eligible and ECU 3.5 million is to be allocated for the
country to import essentials such as petrol, cement and fertiliser. The
counterpart funds accruing from the sales of these goods could be used to
cushion the negative effects of measures taken under the structural adjustment
programme. Cooperation can provide an answer to problems of debt and State
reform and the flexible nature of Community aid is very much appreciated by the
In late 1989, the Commission of the European Communities decided
to upgrade its representation in The Comoros to the status of Delegation, so it
no longer depended on the Delegation in Mauritius - a response to the
countrys oft-stated desire and to the extreme diversity of Community
cooperation in the islands. In LomThe Comoros has the instruments it needs to
help its development along and the recent signing of agreements with the Bretton
Woods institutions will enable it both to boost this cooperation with the EEC
and harmonise it better with aid received from other funders. This is an
essential aspect of international cooperation and one which this country, with
so few resources of its own, is making efficient use of in the field.