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Comoros infrastructure plan in motion for better inter-island transportation

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Port expansion, new ferry and taxi boats among transport infrastructure solutions considered to move people and goods, enhance connectivity to the international market, reduce poverty and increase access to social services for the island group located off the coast of Mozambique in the Indian Ocean.

“Being able to play a small part in making people’s lives better is a privilege and a rewarding experience” says Anabelle DiCarlo, senior transport infrastructure specialist at CPCS.

Here’s at-a-glance the story of this archipelago in search of solutions to fix inter-island transportation problems and unlock more economic growth:

  • Maritime connectivity between the three islands of the Comoros Union, Grande Comore, Mohéli and Anjouan, is inadequate to address the population’s needs, as it is largely seen as unsafe, unreliable and not user-friendly
  • Maritime connectivity from and to Mohéli Island is deficient, isolating Comorians from the rest of the country and the world
  • Greater connectivity from and to Mohéli, and between all the three islands in general, will enhance the population’s access to social services, including education and healthcare, as well as to new economic markets
  • Brighter days ahead for Comorians as work is underway to renovate the port in Mohéli, develop secondary ports across the three islands and deploy safer and more reliable fleets

Comoros Islands’ fragmented economy

The infrastructure plan CPCS crafted has the potential to improve lives and livelihoods for generations to come.

To get it right, its team of infrastructure specialists in economics, analytics, transactions, policy and transport studied the situation from many angles, including technical, political, environmental and social.

“CPCS has all this expertise and that’s why we can design infrastructure solutions that are practical and resilient while helping with complex project implementation.”

With proprietary data in hand, CPCS saw a clear link between the lack of transport connectivity across islands and how this is a barrier to accessing basic services.

“To change this, basic infrastructure and good governance will encourage more women to travel, go to school or where they can sell products.”

In terms of infrastructure, Comoros only has one official maritime operator for passenger and cargo transportation services. This in itself is a problem because the ship sails only once a week and can carry a maximum of 200 passengers.

Also, a host of small, informal taxi-boat operators carry passengers and goods between the islands with poor safety standards. 

While straightforward yet complex, what came out of this study was the urgency for new transit options proposed as projects.

3 infrastructure projects for sustainable impacts

One of three projects that CPCS recommended is underway, but it’s clear that if the other two are implemented, it will increase the positive impact for years to come.

  • Project 1: renovating and expanding the port in Moheli (underway)
  • Project 2: acquiring and operating a new regular ferry service between islands
  • Project 3: creating secondary ports with piers and acquiring new taxi boats to replace existing ones, deemed unsafe and inadequate as a means of travel on the ocean

“We often forget the power that appropriate infrastructure has in our day-to-day lives. Helping them put the right infrastructure in place will surely have a positive ripple effect,” says Anabelle.

Map for potential inter-island maritime transportation in the Comoros

Concrete use of good infrastructure for a small island nation

The concrete changes these projects bring is serious.

For example, Comorians will have the infrastructure to put in place a cold transport system so they can develop domestic poultry and dairy markets. This could lead to agriculture playing a bigger role in their economy, contribute to reducing poverty and reduce dependence on imports.

Increased travel safety means that people would have better access to other markets to sell products. Better connectivity between islands would also mean greater access to social services, including education and healthcare. All basic yet essential services in growing economies so that Comorians can continue sustaining the archipelago’s growth.

Anabelle DiCarlo is a transport infrastructure specialist at CPCS. Anabelle has more than 15 years of experience advising public and private sectors in airport development in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

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