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Kuwait to invest $56m in Comoros

Moroni, March 30, 2008

Kuwaiti investors said they will pump nearly $56 million into Comoros, which hit the headlines this week when African Union troops helped topple the rebel leader of one of its three islands.

The swift success of the operation was a boost for President Ahmed Abdallah Sambi, a former Islamic preacher, who has worked hard to court Arab business in the small coup-prone Indian Ocean archipelago.

Bachar Kiwan, leading a delegation of Kuwaiti investors, said they would initially focus on telecoms and banking.

'We have just obtained a licence to become the second mobile operator,' Kiwan told reporters in Moroni, capital of the biggest Comorian isle. 'We are expecting to invest about $40 million.'    

His group, Comoro Gulf Holding, is 90 percent owned by a Kuwaiti prince and other Arab investors. The other 10 per cent is held by the Comoros government.

Kiwan said the group would also inaugurate Federal Trade Bank in Comoros in July with capital of 10 million euros ($15.8 million).

Two Comoro Gulf Holding projects announced last year, a deep water quay and a $114 million euro ($180m) tourist village, will employ Saudi Arabia's Bin Laden construction group, a government official said.

'We have signed a letter of intent for the construction of Bangoi Kouni tourist village by Salted Lake and the building of a deep water quay at Moroni port,' said Idi Nadhoim, vice president in charge of transport and telecommunications.

In another sign of an increasing Arab presence on the archipelago, Dubai World, a state-owned conglomerate, said this month it would invest $70 million in a hotel.

With a tropical climate and white sandy beaches, tourism has long been seen as a big potential growth sector for Comoros, whose 700,000 people depend mostly on farming, fishing and remittances from relatives abroad.

First settled by Arab sailors 1,000 years ago, the islands later became a pirate haven. They have suffered about 20 coups or attempted coups since independence from France in 1975. - Reuters




Tags: Moroni | Comoros |

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