The Union of the Comoros is a cluster of islands 875 kilometres north-west of Madagascar off the African east coast.
One of the smallest but most densely populated countries in Africa, the Comoros is inhabited by approximately 788,000 people, with around 40 percent of the population aged under 14. The many islands of the Comoros are home to a diverse ethnic population with African, Arabic, and French ancestral ties.
The official languages of the Comoros are Comorian, Arabic, and French, allowing for wide participation in the country’s economy and infrastructure. The capital city, Moroni, is in the island of Grand Comore, also known as N’gazidja, and is shrouded in Arabic and early Islamic influences.
With temperatures being relatively high throughout the year, the Comoros could attract year-round tourism, but the industry is still in its early stages. Ecotourism is a popular experience in the Comorian island of Mohéli, known for its untouched scenery and wildlife.
A developing nation, the Comoros is heavily dependent on fishing and agriculture. In 2013, around 71.5 percent of its land was being put to agricultural use, with key export products including vanilla and ylang-ylang. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) forecast a real GDP growth rate of 2.2 percent for 2016.
The Comoros has struggled with maintaining a stable Government since its independence from France in 1975. One of the main Comoro Islands, Mayotte, voted to remain part of France, but its status as a French insular department is contested by the Union of the Comoros.
The Comoros passed its first Law on Economic Citizenship on 27 November 2008, having found authority to do so in Articles 5 and 19 of the Constitution of 23 December 2001. The Economic Investment Programme was devised as a means of generating income for the nation, with the Gulf States as key target markets.
Shortly after its inception, the Comoros announced that more than US$200 million would be invested through the Programme in return for the naturalisation of 4,000 families, each between six and eight family members. The families were all composed of Bedoon, stateless people who generally do not enjoy the same rights as those of the nationals of the countries they reside in, primarily the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait.
The Programme has since sought to entice individual investors, with minimum required investments set each financial year by the relevant Finance Act. Furthermore, each naturalisation requires the payment of 1,000,000 Comorian francs (around US$2,000) to the national Treasury.
The body responsible for processing all applications under the Comoros Economic Investment Programme is the Independent National Committee, which aims to process each application within a timeframe of 45 to 80 days. Economic citizenship is granted by a decree of the President of the Republic issued by the Council of Ministers.
The Programme does not require applicants to reside in the archipelago, and is restricted to those foreigners whose habitual residence is outside Comorian territory. Unlike for other programmes, there is a requirement that the applicant not support principles contrary to Sunni Islam, the nation’s dominant religion. The applicant must also attend an interview and provide biometric data before an Enrolment Officer in Dubai, or anywhere in the world provided the applicant pays for the Officer to travel.
The Comoros Programme for citizenship offers rewarding personal benefits, such as travel to more than 45 countries and territories, many of which are located in Africa and Southeast Asia. The Union of the Comoros respects the applicants’ personal choice to retain their citizenship of origin by allowing dual nationality once Comorian citizenship is obtained. However, as a citizen who was naturalised through an investment in the Comoros, an applicant will not have the right to vote, become part of the country’s judicial branch, or join the army.