- Tomorrow, the donors' conference for the impoverished island nation of Comoros is opening in Mauritius. The Comoran government and its partners hope for pleads of euro 250 to 300 million to materialise for the next three years. With political stability returning to Comoros, the archipelago wants to turn the 20-year trend of negative economic growth.
The luxurious venture at Grand Baie on the northern tip of the fellow Indian Ocean nation of Mauritius contrasts the poverty lived in Comoros. Here, Comoran government representatives tomorrow will get a first hand example of the tourism and economic potential for Indian Ocean island states providing political stability and a positive long-term investment climate.
Comoran leaders will be joined by representatives from more than 100 potential donors and investors, including governments, organisations and private businesses. At the "Comoros Donors' Conference", authorities will present their national Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) and Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) to convince donors that their investments are worthwhile.
South Africa, which plaid a vital role in negotiating the Comoran peace deal two years ago, is co-hosting the conference. South African President Thabo Mbeki joined Mauritian Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam in sending out invitations, resulting in visits from a large number of countries never before involved in Comoros.
The conference in the Indian Ocean region is seen as crucial to the possibilities of Comoros to overcome its chronic instability and poverty. The island nation since independence in 1975 has achieved a world record in coups and coup attempts, which has hindered all meaningful economic development in the country. While neighbouring Indian Ocean nations have become wealthy on tourism and fisheries, Comoros has mostly had a negative economic development for twenty years.
Over the last few years, however, peace has been established under the new Comoros Union, which gives very wide autonomy to the archipelago's three islands. Democratic institutions have been established on all levels and the worst power struggles seem to have come to a conclusion. Meanwhile, the Union government of President Assoumani Azali has been negotiating with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), agreeing on a poverty reduction strategy to be externally financed.
This poverty reduction strategy is to be presented to potential donors at Grand Baie during the next few days. According to the South African government, the strategy focuses on structural reforms of the public sector, infrastructure and communications, good governance, the environment, energy, health and education.
The Comoran government has announced its aim to launch this three-year economic strategy already in 2006. Authorities therefore will ask international donors to contribute with budget and project aid worth between euro 250 and 300 million for the 2006-09 period. Among the powerful guests expected to promise funds are Development Commissioner Louis Michel of the European Union (EU), IMF and World Bank officials and representatives from several Arab countries.
President Azali already came to Mauritius this morning, heading a large Comoran delegation. The Comoran Head of State today met with his Mauritian and South African counterparts. Also representatives from the autonomous island governments are in Mauritius, trying to assure that not all donor funds are directed towards the Union government in Moroni, which could tilt the current power balance.
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