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Economic prospects of Côte d’Ivoire

Côte d’Ivoire is the largest and historically most diversified economy in the franc zone. Years of domestic conflict damaged the country’s economy and reputation, but the strong-minded foreign policy Côte d’Ivoire launched in late 2011 has helped it to quickly restore its rank as a leading economic power in West Africa.

Agriculture

Home to fertile land and a pleasant climate, Cote d’Ivoire is strategically situated for an agricultural revolution. More than 70 percent of the country’s land is arable, and it is blessed with nearly six months of rainfall.

The agricultural sector contributes about 26.6 percent of the West African nation’s GDP and more than two-thirds of the labour force is employed in the sector. Côte d’Ivoire is the premier producer of cocoa in the world. The African Development Bank and the International Office of Cocoa and Coffee are planning to locate their head offices/quarters in the national capital of Abidjan, indicating a restored confidence in the country.

Côte d’Ivoire is Africa’s leading producer of natural rubber, and its rubber production is showing strong growth. The country is also a major exporter of palm oil products. The government intends to further capitalise on its abundance of arable land. The Ivorian authorities plan to invest more than $4bn to improve and diversify the agricultural sector in order to create some 2.4 million jobs in the sector by the end of 2016.

Mining

Apart from agriculture, the West African country also has significant prospects in the oil and gold mining industries. Due to the much improved macroeconomic and political environment in Côte d’Ivoire, the services and industrial sectors should show strong growth rates over the medium term after expanding by double digit rates in 2012. The government is trying to attract oil companies to invest in upstream activities by improving the business environment and transparency.

Cote d’Ivoire’s exports consist primarily of agricultural products and petroleum. Oil exports decreased significantly in 2012 due to a fall in domestic output levels. Due to the decade of political turmoil, little effort was put into development of the hydrocarbons sector; however, the government aims to raise its oil output to around 200,000 barrels per day (bpd) over the next five years, from 38,000 bpd in 2012, thanks to recent discoveries and on-going exploratory drilling.

The government, with the help of multilateral organisations, is going to support the electricity sector by increasing thermal and hydroelectric production capacity, and this will also aid in the growth of the mining sector.

Economic future

The economic strategy of Côte d’Ivoire aims for it to become an emerging economy by 2020. The growth rate for 2014 is estimated to reach 9.8 percent.

Côte d’Ivoire’s political turmoil stunted economic development throughout the 2000s. The social and political situation took Côte d’Ivoire from being one of the richest and most developed economies in Africa, to one with a treacherous business environment and meagre GDP growth, which contracted by 4.7 percent in 2011. However, relative stability has returned to the West African nation, causing the economy to grow by a staggering 9.8 percent in 2012.

The country was also the recipient of a great deal of debt relief in 2012, which has enabled the government to pursue its plans for large scale infrastructure investment over the medium term. Macroeconomic stability has also prompted an influx of foreign investor interest. In fact, the IMF estimates that real investment increased by 63.2 percent in 2012.

It is expected that Côte d’Ivoire’s economy will continue to expand rapidly over the medium term so long as the new state of political stability persists.

 

David Okwara

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