By Magreth Nunuhe
Pretoria – The Ambassador of the Union of the Comoros to South Africa, Chamsidine Mhadjou, says his country is excited to be a member of SADC as they can benefit from various projects through regional integration.
The Comoros became the 16th SADC member state during the 37th SADC Summit of Heads of State and Government meeting in Pretoria, South Africa, in August 2017.
“Our vision is for the economic development of our country. It was a very good idea,” said Mhadjou, adding that their citizens were comfortable with the region.
The French-speaking Comoros is a volcanic archipelago off Africa’s east coast in the Indian Ocean located at the northern end of the Mozambique Channel, between north-eastern Mozambique and north-western Madagascar.
Other countries near the Comoros are Tanzania to the northwest and the Seychelles to the northeast.
The country consists of three major islands Grande Comore (Ngazidja); Mohéli (Mwali); and Anjouan (Nzwani) and the contested island of Mayotte still under French administration.
The Comoros ambassador said they would seek dialogue on the Mayotte Island and will take the issue up with SADC to ask for the solidarity of all member states.
Relations between Comoros and France remain fragile, as the Comoros claim the island of Mayotte is part of its territory.
Mhadjou further hoped that his country would benefit from social projects through SADC regional integration.
He said they currently mainly import goods from the United States and Europe but want to make use of the African Continental Free Trade Area to import and export goods in Africa.
African governments signed a framework establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, from 17-21 March 2018 to create a single market for goods and services in Africa.
The Comoros is hoping to trade in main cash crops such as vanilla, ylang-ylang and clove.
“South Africa will be the main partner for those products,” said Mhadjou.
He said that with the SADC membership they can now import goods from other member states instead of Europe and the US, which is an expensive undertaking.
The main imports of the Comoros are rice, meat, poultry and wheat flour.
They also import meat from Belgium and chicken from Brazil, which is bound to change when they find partners with whom to trade within the SADC region.
“At the moment, we are still observing. We can’t sign any memorandums now, but by August we will,” said Mhadjou.
The ambassador dispelled negative reports about his country’s tourism sector, saying what is reflected in the media is not the reality on the ground.
“Comoros is peaceful and we have lots of opportunities to develop tourism. Please come to the Comoros to discover the country. We call it the country of the moon,” he added.