Leading Africa: a historic role for Comoros

March 15, 2023

Comoros will serve as the Chair of the African Union (AU) in 2023. This is the first time that Comoros will be assuming this huge responsibility to champion Africa’s agenda. It is also a first for a small island economy.  The Government and People of Comoros recognize that these are all difficult challenges. Nonetheless, the commitment, leadership, and determination of the government of Comoros with international assistance could help advance some the continent’s agenda.

On 18 February 2023, during the 36th Summit of the African Union (AU), Heads of State and Government elected H.E. Azali Assoumani, President of the Union of Comoros, as AU Chairperson for the year 2023. This marks the first time Comoros has been entrusted with leading the vision of the AU. It also comes at a time when the continent is grappling with significant development and security challenges. 

The socio-economic impact of COVID-19 continues to adversely affect populations. It has led to unsustainable indebtedness across African countries, at a time when public resources are greatly needed to advance recovery and promote sustainable development. Insecurity caused by violent extremism and unconstitutional changes of government, especially in the Sahel, continues to persist despite the intensification of continental, sub-regional and international efforts in the region. 

Yet, Africa’s development trajectory can be altered in a positive direction with the right leadership. 48 African countries have ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and eight AU member states have already commenced trading under this regime. The innovation and ingenuity of young people and women continue to be sources of inspiration for advancing Africa’s transformation. Comoros can tap into these opportunities to advance growth, investment and sustainable development on the continent. 

Comoros and Africa will require international support to succeed. This is why the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) deployed a technical mission from the UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa to assess the potential areas of support that UNDP can provide to the Comoros over the course of this year. The mission was preceded by a meeting between President Assoumani and Ahunna Eziakonwa, UN Assistant Secretary-General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Regional Director for Africa, to discuss and align on joint priority areas.

The UNDP technical mission was well received by various national stakeholders. The mission engaged with the Ministries of Economy, Interior and Agriculture; the Office of the Presidency; the Comorian Agency for International Cooperation; the Chamber of Commerce; the Ambassador of South Africa; a woman agricultural entrepreneur; and representatives from the EU and World Bank. The consultations provided clarity and guidance on the priorities and visions of what the AU presidency means for government institutions and how UNDP could support them.

After the various consultations, the overall observation of the mission is that UNDP should support Comoros, together with other development partners, to ensure that its continental leadership role can successfully drive continental priorities. With international support, Comoros could champion Africa’s agenda especially in the areas of advancing women’s empowerment, contributing to continental peace and security priorities, acceleration of the AfCFTA, combatting climate change and enhancing the blue economy.

Comoros is poised to contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2063, a continental blueprint for promoting a peace, stability and prosperity, and on delivering on “The Africa We Want”. UNDP will seek to accompany Comoros in this journey in 2023.