In the latest African Connected journey to highlight economies on the continent that are writing their own success stories, Nikiwe and the team visit the flourishing West African nation of Cote d’Ivoire.
For decades after French colonial rule, Cote d’Ivoire – or the Ivory Coast – was hailed as a beacon of stability in West Africa thanks to its ethnic and racial harmony, and well-developed economy. But an armed rebellion split the nation in two in the early 2000s, and, since then, peace deals have alternated with conflict as the country limps towards a permanent political solution.
Yet, despite the political turmoil, Cote d’Ivoire’s economy is widely reported as stable and even prosperous: the International Monetary Fund predicts that its GDP will increase by an average of 7.4% between 2017 and 2020, and the country is well-placed to act as the business hub for the entire West African region, further entrenching its influence and value - indeed, Cote d’Ivoire currently makes up about 40% of this zone’s economy.
Cocoa and cocoa preparations account for 55.5% of the country's top exports
The reasons for the Ivory Coast’s prosperity are numerous. Largely an agricultural economy, it is one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of cocoa, coffee beans, and palm oil. Forestry is another economic mainstay, with the industry exporting more than 25 different types of wood (including mahogany, teak, pine and cedar) to Europe, Senegal and Morocco.
Most important to foreign investors, though, is the country’s excellent infrastructure: Described as “outstanding” compared to that of other developing countries, Cote d’Ivoire boasts a network of more than 13 000km of paved roads; modern, accessible telecommunications services; rail links; regular air transport service within the region and to Europe; and a highly regarded education system.
With this in mind, it’s clear why many multinational companies are moving, and have made the move, into the Ivory Coast: US Giant General Electric (GE) opened a subsidiary in Abidjan in 2012; MTN began operating in the country in 2005; and Standard Bank established its first Ivorian branch in 2015- Stanbic Côte d'Ivoire - to expand its operations into Francophone Africa. On her journey, Nikiwe will interview representatives from all these organisations - and others - getting to the heart of their activities in West Africa and their goals for the future.
As the Ivory Coast is one of the world’s major cocoa-producing nations, no tour of the country would be complete without a visit to a chocolate factory or the Conseil Cafe Cacao (the Coffee and Cocoa Council or CCC). Though the West-African country exports the cocoa and coffee beans needed to produce globally adored treats, this industry is blighted by the scourge of child labour. The CCC is determined to combat this, promoting a fair and sustainable export industry.
Just like past Africa Connected adventures, this one promises to be as enlightening as it’s engaging. To join Nikiwe on this latest journey of discovery, follow #AfricaConnected with Standard Bank and 702’s Nikiwe on Twitter.