The “whole of island” approach not only ensures that the development is homogenous but also provides revenue from the widest range of sources to include (but not limited to): -

 

  • Tourism – a wide range of 3,4 & 5 star hotels, spas and resorts

  • Infrastructure – airport, seaport, free trade zone, roads & bridges

  • Banking & Finance – banking & Investment licence in Moheli

  • Residential & Commercial Property – Villas & plots, apartments, retail & industrial

  • Healthcare – provision of cutting edge healthcare solutions

  • Communication – postal service, telephone, mobile and Internet

  • Agriculture – providing for the needs of the islanders, visitors & workers

  • Import of consumer goods & services – for visitors, hotels & retailers

  • Export of local products – ylang ylang, clove, cinnamon and many other spices

  • Leisure – golf, sailing, cycling, walking, water sports

  • Air, sea & ground transportation – vehicles, inter-island flights & ferries

  • Power, water, fuel, and waste – provision, storage, supply and distribution

  • Mineral & Petrochemical

1. Purpose

The Mwali Limewood Framework Agreement between the Union of Comoros and the Limewood Group of Companies Limited will enable joint promotion of, and investment in, appropriate policies, plans and projects which will assist the imaginative, regulated and responsible development of the Comorian Islands.

 

The strategy we intend to adopt is best characterised as a “whole island” approach. This business model is designed to ensure that there is a considered, consistent and sustainable approach to all of the development projects that we will jointly control, throughout the island of Mwali . 

 

This partnership will enable us to place social and ecological considerations at the forefront of the development process, enabled by investment. Our ‘whole island’ approach is the best means of developing a coherent and coordinated strategy that is comprehensive in its scope, considered in its planning and sustainable in its execution. 

 

Co-ordination and investment by Limewood across the proposed development projects for the island will ensure the best possible outcomes for "stakeholders" whilst also ensuring positive outcomes for the environment of the island and the local population as a whole. This integrated approach recognises the fact that action in any one area will naturally affect outcomes in other apparently unrelated areas, and that to ensure a truly sustainable development, we must achieve a balance in terms of social, economic and environmental considerations.

 

2. People

It is readily acknowledged that there has been, over many years, an out-migration of Comorians from Ngazidja , Ndzouani  and Mwali to Maore. This has resulted in a strong imbalance in economic activity, requiring substantial support to Maore from the French Government and relative impoverishment amongst the other three independent islands. Recently, a call from President Macron of France proposed forms of subsidy for the Union of Comoros to help stem the flow of migration into Maore. Our investment strategy for the Comoros is entirely consistent with this policy. 

 

Also, of significance is the complementary statement by the African Development Bank in its strategy document "Comoros 2016-2020: Country Strategy Paper 14-4-2016" which highlights key challenges including persistent poverty, high youth unemployment rate, vulnerability to  climatic  shocks  and  weak  national  cohesion.

 

The goal of the Limewood group is to aid the Islands of Comoros to move from being inward-looking, entirely reliant on subsistence agriculture and a limited number of services, to becoming an outward-looking, sought-after location with an economy based on tertiary-sector activities.

 

New investment is critical to the welfare of the islanders and the future of Mwali. Our ability to control the overall development process is essential to providing reassurance to outside investors that their potential funds will be managed diligently to good effect. Their investment risk and returns will be spread across a portfolio of investments and will not be wholly reliant on the success of any one particular aspect of a specific development.

 

3. Projects

We can best achieve this goal of much-needed investment through a focus on projects:

Tourism – a wide range of 3,4- & 5-star hotels, spas and resorts

Leisure Activities - golf, sailing, fishing, cycling, walking, swimming and water sports

Residential and Commercial Property – villas, plots, apartments, commercial retail & industrial zones

Infrastructure – airport, seaport, free trade zone, roads and bridges

Power, water, fuel, and waste – provision, storage, supply and distribution

Transport Services – public transport, inter-island flights & ferries, car hire, bicycle hire

Healthcare – expansion of healthcare facilities - doctors’ surgeries, clinics and hospitals

Education & Training – Provision of schools and adult education centres

Communication – postal, telephone, mobile and Internet services

Banking and Finance – licensed banking and investment services

Agriculture – to meet the needs of islanders, visitors and workers

Import of consumer goods and services – to meet the demands of visitors, hotels and retailers

Export of local products – ylang-ylang, clove, cinnamon and many other spices.

 

It is our desire to aid the "call to action" for major new investment across these various sectors, with a particular focus on the island of Mwali through our experience of and contact with potential investors in many of these subject areas.

 

4. Priorities

Improve inter-island transport: Sea-going transport plays a central and important role in the Comorian economy, but port facilities are inadequate, and the capacity of inter-island boats is very limited. The initial facilitating development will be to improve the local sea-going transport sector. Approved plans exist to create a Sea Catamaran Ferry Service at Camar Marine and to expand the current port capacity and the services on offer. This will facilitate the transportation of goods to and from Africa and the other islands of the Comoros archipelago, along with Madagascar and many other islands of the Indian Ocean. 

 

Enhance the "paradise experience". There is a global scarcity of undeveloped or un-spoilt native wilderness. Conversely there is a growing global demand for ‘undiscovered’ and exclusive eco-tourism destinations. Mwali, in particular, is regarded as "an island paradise" and has remained un-spoilt compared to the uncontrolled and unrestricted development typical of many other "exotic" tourist destinations. The Comoros islands benefit from a year-round, tropical climate. 

 

Improve international access: The Comoros archipelago lies between Mozambique and Madagascar in the Mozambique channel in the western Indian Ocean. It is located around 300 miles from the coast of Madagascar and only 200 miles off the coast of Africa and can be reached within four or five flying hours from cities such as Cape Town, Nairobi, Lagos, Cairo, Dubai and Mumbai. Mwali is well placed to benefit economically from this growing demand; the expansion of airport facilities is a crucial first step in this process and essential if the people of Mwali are to fully exploit and benefit from the opportunities and additional revenue streams that increased tourism will provide. 

 

Actively explore the sources of investment capital across the various sectors of interest. The Limewood Group has access to investment capital from its own resources, but we will also make contact with other investors known to us; initial contacts are regarded as promising. The Limewood Group will also, from its own resources, commission specialist professionals to conceive and draw up plans for first phase developments which will be subject to early discussion with island and Government agencies. 

 

5. Program/Product

The parties to the framework agreement have agreed to the phased development of a series of well-designed hotel and resort projects, founded on eco-tourism principles and implemented in accordance within a 10-year development plan, in several specific development zones. 

 

There is much scope for the involvement of many different types of investor.  To manage and facilitate this investment-development process, a coherent approach is required. This approach embraces the whole-island strategy and allows investors to make investment decisions with confidence, knowing that other individual projects will be notable architecturally but also complementary in scale and character, suited to their setting. All projects undertaken will respect the ecological, cultural and social sensitivities of their location.  They will be selected for development only if they have the potential to add value to the “Mwali brand" – and with confidence that any neighboring sites will not be developed inappropriately, with little regard for the local people and their environment.

 

The history and current situation in Mwali are poorly understood by many outside investors. Its geographical location is unfamiliar to most.  Therefore, it is of vital importance that:

- the overall development strategy is clear to all, is well published, and widely circulated and discussed;

- the local government is seen to be totally committed to the overall project and the infrastructure provisions that will be required; and

- that a MIGA guarantee is in place, to enable potential investors to alleviate any fears they may have with regard to the political stability of the island. 

 

The program of planned works will start gradually. Alongside these initiatives a "business development team" needs to be formed to accomplish a number of goals that are pre-requisite, if the island is to facilitate sustainable and economically-sound developments. This requires:           

-  building the island’s tourism profile through various forms of publicity;

- improving the quality and expanding the capacity of the island’s infrastructure;

- assisting existing local businesses to review their "service offer" and to

take advantage of the provision of commercial advice and aid; 

- training local people, to provide them with the skills necessary to create and take advantage of the growing employment opportunities that will emerge and evolve.

 

These activities will require the identification of key local partners with business experience to band together (perhaps in the form of a "chamber of commerce") to be able, as a group, to engage with and assist others who can play a part in the planned physical and economic development of the island.

 

We plan to give support to local communities and local people in many ways. We will employ local people from local villages. We will provide them with dedicated schools, further education and vocational training facilities. This will equip the community with the skills required and demanded by a modern economy. This will enable the local population to take advantage of all the opportunities that development of the island will provide. 

 

We will also provide health and community care facilities to enable Comorians to access the very best medical and social care available. We will offer sponsorship and support to local community, religious and social groups.

 

Community sponsorship enables local community groups to welcome and support others in their local communities. A community-led approach will foster the establishment of positive relationships, in terms of community engagement and collaborative working between government, businesses and the local populace.

 

Bringing communities together around a common cause and mobilizing people to action can play a part in facilitating some under-represented and minority groups.  It will help to develop stronger links between the people, their community and the local business community. This policy will help us to identify local leaders, thereby enhancing local capabilities and building stronger communities.

 

We estimate that over a 10 to 12-year period, it is likely that capital investment flowing to the island will conservatively be in the range of €250 million up to and beyond €1 billion Euros, in a continuous program of investment, spread across a range of projects that include infrastructure, holiday accommodation, residential housing, commercial property and community projects. 

 

In the first stage, scheme masterplans will be finalized for three initial development zones.  The approach we adopt, and the policies we formulate for these zones, will be in keeping with our ‘whole island’ concept.   

 

Development appraisals for the three initial "enabling projects" proposed by LGC will be vigorously tested and verified. This process will involve alternative scenarios of the increased number of visitors the island is likely to attract, once these enabling projects are underway. The projects will be as follows:

 

Development of a world-class, beach-side resort in Houeni to include the training an employment of local staff to provide an appropriate hospitality service.

Development works at Moimbassa Beach and the provision of the LGC marketing suite and facilities.

Essential upgrade of some facilities on the island to minimum essential standards to facilitate the satisfactory transfer of tourists.

These projects will be delivered according to the principles of "eco-tourism", which is founded on the principles of unifying conservation, communities, and sustainable travel. 

We will adopt the following guiding principles of Eco-tourism to achieve this goal:  

Minimize physical, social, behavioral, and psychological impacts.

Build environmental and cultural awareness and respect.

Provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts.

Provide direct financial benefits for conservation.

Generate financial benefits for both local people and private industry.

Deliver memorable interpretative experiences to visitors that help raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climates.

Design, construct and operate low-impact facilities.

Recognize the rights and spiritual beliefs of the Indigenous People in your community and work in partnership with them to create empowerment.

 

It is only through these principles that tourism can enhance and improve the material life of the local community, without causing a loss of traditional employment systems, cultural divergence or social disruption.

 

6. Strengths and weaknesses of the island (SWOT Analysis)

Mwali natural environment is its biggest strength. Our development framework agreement will be used to enhance and protect Mwali natural environment of virgin forest, unique flora and fauna, tropical sandy beaches and coral reefs, specifically: 

 

Protection of the marine park with its' rich and unique flora and fauna - turtle nesting, the Coelacanth, Livingston Bats and Ylang-ylang plants used in the creation of perfumes and essential oils.

Prevention of effluent discharge which, if not controlled, could impact adversely on the island's blue sea, coral reefs and abundant natural sea-life.  

Sensible exploitation of the agricultural potential as the island is not at great risk of flooding caused by rising sea-levels, due to its' volcanic origins which have created an interior rising to an elevation of over 800 meters thereby contributing to an attractive, much-photographed topography.

Enhancement of an exotic location offering a unique, memorable tourism experience for visitors seeking exclusivity and individuality in a beautiful, unspoiled landscape and oceanic shoreline;

Profiting from a year-round warm climate to facilitate and satisfy visitor demand for comfortable destinations throughout the calendar year. 

Engaging the island's friendly people, known for their happy and sunny disposition, and educating them through training and awareness of the value of tourism's potential for the development of the island's economy.

 

7. The framework agreement will seek to address and eventually remove all aspects of the following perceived weaknesses: -

The infrastructure is basic and requires extending and upgrading to accommodate a large increase in visitor numbers:

Infrastructure in need of upgrading includes the airport with its asphalt runway and inadequate control tower, the main seaport, the island's roads, the overall provision of clean drinking water and sanitation, reliable power generation and distribution, and an improved telecommunications infrastructure (mobile/landlines/internet)

Air and sea access to the island is dated and of limited practical value for tourism in its current condition. Chartered flights and all but the smallest aircraft are obliged to go to Grand Comore Island where regular scheduled flights are in place to and from international destinations.

The existing tourism offer is poor and not of an acceptable standard when compared to other destinations within the "Vanilla Islands" affiliation of island nations.

An airport upgrade is needed to allow airlines to land aircraft at night and to allow larger aircraft, with greater capacity, to operate safely.  

The levels of education, literacy and skill-based training of the local population are poor and should be upgraded. 

Emigration of the younger generation to seek employment opportunities elsewhere reduces the potential to grow the island's economy and the trend must be reversed.

 

8. The framework agreement will provide numerous new opportunities for the people of Mwali, including: -

 

Social, economic and ethical advancement.

Reducing poverty and raising the standard of living for the population of local inhabitants, many of whom currently live at subsistence levels.

A tourism offering untainted by any inappropriate historic legacy.

Tourism-related and supporting businesses and industries, which will broaden and expand the economy, improve productivity and expand the tax base to provide a more robust income stream to support government spending priorities.

Eco-tourism markets are expanding faster than other tourism market segments. Ethical and environmental concerns are promoting change in travelling habits and the tourism experience being sought. 

Expansion and development of the financial and banking sector will encourage further investment and foreign currency flows to the island, potentially as a tax haven for "high net worth" individuals from places such as India, the Middle East and Africa.

Opportunities should be taken to raise the island's profile. This will be greatly helped by improving awareness of the island’s cultural and natural heritage. 

Increased flows of money which can be used to protect and maintain the island’s natural environment and resources.

 

A better-developed economy enabling the people of Mwali to exploit and take full advantage of the increased levels of opportunity which the overall development strategy will offer. Further economic growth through the exploitation of proven oil and gas reserves under the ocean may happen in the future, but the short-term goal should be to achieve the economic stability required without any reliance on future oil revenues.

 

9. The framework agreement seeks to guard against a number of threats to our shared vision. 

 

Minimises the risks of poorly thought-out and purely speculative developments.

Greatly aids protection of the natural resources of the island from unregulated and uncontrolled development (urban sprawl). Competitors who do not embrace the principle of eco-tourism can be excluded from the market.

Will help to ensure that the islanders can share in the success of projects due to better employment, education, training, health care, and quality of life.  

 

10. The tourism offer recognizes that world travel and tourism are increasing in volume and value:

The expansion of the travel industry shows no immediate or even medium-terms signs of slowing down. According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism globally will grow by around four per cent in each of the next ten years. The UN's World Tourism Organisation reckons that the number of travelling tourists is approaching 1.6 billion, double the number who packed their bags ten years ago. Eco-tourism markets are expanding faster than other tourism market segments. Ethical and environmental concerns are promoting change in travelling habits and the tourism experience being sought. 

 

 11. A Distinctive Approach

We see our role as a facilitator and innovator to encourage increased capital investment to the island of Mwali. We will seek to develop schemes and projects and then bring them to the attention of private investors enabling us to deliver what we have planned. Mwali benefits from being in a location accessible to continents with rapidly growing populations, including new wealthy investors in emerging nations such as Brazil, Russia, India and China.  There is an increasing enthusiasm from investors, following years of stagnation in the investment market, to consider safe and politically stable developing nations as potential recipients of investment funds. The MIGA guarantee is an important first step along this road. 

 

Similarly, there is a wealth of funds, grants and aid available for schemes that prioritize humanitarian and ecological improvements - UNDF, GCF, foreign aid, charitable institutions, etc. These funds are substantial and run into billions of euros. We intend to develop relationships with key decision-makers and individuals in such organizations and will submit schemes that will attract these types of funds to Mwali for the benefit of all its people.

 

12. Conclusion

 

We believe that Mwali is a very special place which is currently unspoiled by inappropriate development, poorly planned schemes and social exclusion which characterizes many of the development models adopted by others in emerging countries elsewhere. 

 

We believe it is essential to the success of Mwali is that the local populace share in the wealth which expanding the economy provides. 

 

We are committed for the long-term. Our business model recognizes this, and we intend to transform, improve and increase the living standards and opportunities for the people of Mwali for the better, without the need to damage its environment or to exclude its peoples from a share in the prosperity that modernisation will bring.

 

We believe that our ‘whole island’ strategy will enable us to help the people of Mwali to create exceptional standards of modernity & hospitality. The offer of "a uniquely pleasant experience and a strong sense of well-being", will extend to both the resident population and visitors alike.

 

Social inclusion will be an important instrument of policy and progress. Our investments will assist greatly in this process. We will be mindful of past tensions and the challenge of creating opportunity to overcome poverty, social exclusion and the negative impact of upheaval to which these factors can give rise.

 

Our proposition is tailored to ensuring that all of the people of Mwali can share in the benefits that growing the economy will provide. We believe our "whole island strategy" will create exceptional standards of hospitality, a uniquely pleasant experience for visitors and a strong sense of well-being within the local population.

 

Pursuit of these objectives could have a thematic dimension, embracing (for example):

Sensuality – the combination of a warm, moist climate, lush plantations of perfumed plant species, a warm clear sea, the use of natural, indigenous materials in creating beautiful interior spaces, and standards of service and facilities aimed at pleasing body and mind will induce pleasurable sensations which cannot be surpassed, anywhere else.

 

Exoticism – the creation of an environment and experience which are non-habitual, strange or different in a way that is striking, strangely beautiful and enticing, made possible by the unspoilt nature of the island and its people, together with the exotic plants and creatures found in very few other parts of the world.

 

Discovery – not just to do with the finding out about nature on land or in air and sea, but also through adventure on and around the island, and participation with members of the community in teaching and learning, with visitors encouraged to contribute to personal development programs from which they themselves benefit. 

 

Tranquility – a chance to enjoy the peace of the forest and the calm of the sea, without intrusion or the tinnitus of everyday life, and to see the stars as they cannot be seen from our cities.

 

Security – the feeling of contentment that comes from not being apprehensive or afraid about the possibility of personal attack or theft of valuables, which turns to a sense of well-being when surrounded by people who are friendly and welcoming.