Ambassador Sylvestre Kouassi Bile of Cote d’Ivoire
Cote d'lvoire grows fast to be
an emerging country by 2020
The following details were contributed to The Korea Post by the Embassy of Cote d?voire in Seoul for publication on the occasion of its National Day on Aug. 7, 2013.--Ed.
Located in West Africa along the Gulf of Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire’s neighbours include Liberia (716 km border) and Guinea-Conakry (610 km) in the west, Mali (532 km) and Burkina Faso (584 km) in the north, Ghana (668 km) in the east and, in the south, for about 500 km, it opens onto the Atlantic Ocean.
The country has the general appearance of a plateau rising gently from south to north, with land relief concentrated in its western part.
It is irrigated by a large number of rivers, of which there are three major ones: Bandama, Comoe, Cavally and Sassandra.
Cote d’Ivoire has a tropical climate with an average temperature of 28 degrees Centigrade all year round. The natural vegetation is rainforest in part of the south, savannah in central and northern parts.
The choice of economic development
Felix Houphouet-Boigny, first President of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire, independent since 7 August 1960, chose to focus on economic development in the ideological debates that followed independence in many countries.
Within fifteen years, Cote d’Ivoire became the most prosperous country of the former French West Africa (AOF). However, this “Ivorian miracle” started coming to an end as a result of the drastic drop in world prices of cocoa and coffee, the country’s main exports and on which its economy was based.
Area: 322,462 km2
Population: 22 million people
2010 (GDP): $24.5 billion
GDP per capita: $1200
Currency: CFA franc (1 euro = 656 FCFA francs)
Ten tough years
With the death of the first President Felix Houphouet-Boigny on 7 December 1993, the political and social climate changed for the worse. His successor, Henri Konan Bedie, elected in 1995, was overthrown on 24 December 1999 during a coup led by General Robert Guei. Ten months later, in October 2000, Laurent Gbagbo was elected to the top job in electoral conditions he himself described as “calamitous.” On 19 September 2002, a military uprising against the regime was triggered in the capital. It failed, but the instigators took refuge in Bouake, the centre-north, about 350 km from Abidjan. Despite a cease-fire agreement signed on 17 October, the northern half of the country was beyond the control of the government. The UN and France with its Licorne troops - as well as the African Union and regional organizations, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA) - became involved in the pacification of the country and the search for a political solution.
An unprecedented crisis
Presidential elections were finally held under international control in 2010. On 28 November, Alassane Ouattara won the second round over Laurent Gbagbo, with 54.10% of the vote.
But the outgoing President refused to bow to the verdict of the polls and declared himself the winner. After prolonged fighting between supporters of the legally elected President and the forces of the former President Gbagbo with the use of heavy weapons, reinforced militia and foreign mercenaries, even inside the walls of the Presidency of the Republic, Gbagbo was finally arrested on 11 April 2011, and transferred on 30 November, to the prison of the International Criminal Court in The Hague, before which he will appear for crimes against humanity.
He left his successor with a country to be rebuilt on all fronts: political, economic, social and moral.
Outlook for recovery
Cote d’Ivoire has keenly resumed its way with democracy, peace, security and stability base to development. It is obvious that the coming back of the African Development Bank (AfDB) in 2014 at its historic headquarters in Abidjan, economic capital of Cote d'Ivoire, will more contribute to the strengthening of the assets of the country.
Therefore, knowing Korean businessmen dynamism and know-how, it will be better for them to operate and invest in the market of Cote d’Ivoire, where various projects await them in the areas of agro-industry, infrastructure, mining, energy and information and communication technologies.
Economic position on Africa
Based on agriculture and agro-allied industries, the economy of Cote d’Ivoire has resisted the world’s financial crisis. The country is still the world’s largest producer of cocoa and is still among the biggest African producers of agricultural products. The main products are:
- Cocoa: 1,400,000 T/year ― 40 percent of the international market
- Coffee: 170,000 T/year 3rd in Africa
- Rubber: 150,000 T/year 1st in Africa
- Pineapples: 260,000 T/year 1st African provider for European market
- Palm oil: 1,400,000 T/year 1st in Africa
- Bananas: 300,000 T/year 2nd African producer
More and more, the country is diversifying its economy. The mining and energy sectors are developing rapidly. Cote d’Ivoire produces natural resources and minerals including gold, diamond, manganese, iron ore, nickel, oil and natural gas deposits.
Cote d’Ivoire accounts for 40percent of the GDP of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union. The country represents 38.9percent of exports and 43percent of manufactured products, 84.2percent of the companies quoted on the regional Stock Market in Abidjan are from Cote d’Ivoire.
Being one of the key countries of West Africa, Cote d’Ivoire has several assets favorable for investments such as:
- An abundant and well trained workforce
- Modern and suitable infrastructures, including Abidjan Port (ranked second in Sub-Saharan Africa)
- Sufficient electricity, water supply and telecommunication systems including Internet
- More than 68,000 kilometers of road (among the best in Africa)
- Favorable tax and customs measures for foreign investment
Korean companies are invited to invest in Cote d’Ivoire where many business opportunities and privileges await them, in particular in the following areas:
- Agriculture and agro-business (cocoa, coffee and tropical fruits processing, etc.)
- Transportation and logistics (Abidjan urban train system, San Pedro airport fitting etc.)
- Construction and development (highways, more than 20 000 houses etc.)
- Mining and energy (power generation and transmission, oil exploration, gold, manganese, copper, nickel exploitation and natural gas etc.)
- Information Technology and Biotechnology (VITIB project etc.)
The Ivorian government is planning several big development projects in Abidjan, Yamoussoukro and San Pedro, where the country’s second sea port is located. These projects consist of constructing modern infrastructures, industrialization of the country, and development of natural resources, to name but a few Korean investments are sought.
Cote d’Ivoire is also a fantastic tourism destination with marvelous sites such as Grand-Bassam, the first capital, with colonial buildings. There are also beautiful beaches in Asouind, Assinie and Monogaga on the sea coast. Tourists can also enjoy national parks full of various animals and sights such as the Basilica Notre Dame de la Paix in Yamousoukro, the biggest in the world.
Profile of President Alassane Auattara
The president of Cote d’Ivoire was born in Dimbokro in the Centre of the country on 1 January 1942. After primary school in Cote d’Ivoire, and high school in Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), he obtained a doctorate in economics at the University of Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania (United States). For ten years he held various positions at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Central Bank of the States of West Africa (BCEAO), becoming Deputy Governor in 1983.
He was Prime Minister from November 1990 until the death of Felix Houphouet-Boigny in December 1993, when he became deputy director of the IMF from May 1994 to July 1999. Elected in November 2010, he has set priorities for the reconciliation of Ivorians and reviving the economy. k