With a stated goal of having industry account for close to 40% of the country’s economy by 2020, up from 25% currently, the authorities are focusing on the development of new industrial zones to cater to emergent manufacturing capacity. The effort involves revamping existing economic zones and developing new areas to be managed under public-private partnerships. The need to establish sufficient industrial space and improve existing areas has further become a necessity after the country’s civil conflict led to under-investment in some essential economic zones. “The industrial zones have had problems, but they are being solved,” JeanLouis Menudier, president and managing director at textiles and design firm Uniwax, told OBG.
A series of legislative steps to promote new industrial zones started to take shape in 2013, when authorities created the Agency for the Management and Development of Industrial Infrastructure. The government body is in charge of industrial zone establishment and expansion. The government also created the National Fund for the Development of Industrial Zones, which is partly financed through contributions from the industrial sector. The current development efforts also involve a focus on revamping the existing Yopougon industrial area, north of Abidjan, set to be completed in early 2017. The 645-ha zone is one of the country’s primary economic areas, hosting about 80% of domestic industrial capacity, according to 2016 figures from the Ministry of Industry and Mines, but lack of investment and economic expansion have left it overcrowded, negatively affecting firms in the zone.
The enhancement of the Yopougon industrial area is supported by a CFA20bn (€30m) investment by the government and will include the modernisation of energy and water infrastructure, the establishment of a fibre-optics telecoms network and the overhauling of roads. A new logistics centre for heavy cargo trucks was also included in the project to ease traffic congestion. Furthermore, the government has announced its intention to revamp other important industrial zones around Abidjan, especially Koumassi and Vridi.
A brand new 940-ha economic zone called PK 24 is also under development on the outskirts of Abidjan with the goal of alleviating pressure on the industrial areas around the country’s economic centre. After an international tender, authorities announced in September 2015 that PK 24 would be built by China Harbour Engineering Company. According to a September 2015 report from weekly magazine Jeune Afrique, the total investment in the new industrial zone will amount to CFA60bn (€90m), with development already under way on an initial area of 200 ha. Establishment of another new industrial zone is under way in the city of Bouake, in central Côte d’Ivoire, which is estimated to cost over CFA100bn (€150m).
Once completed, PK 24 is set to be the biggest such zone in the country. It has already attracted the attention of international industrial investors. Brassivoire, a new €150m joint-venture brewery being set up by Dutch beer producer Heineken and retailer CFAO, will open in the industrial PK 24 area in early 2017. Ensuring the entrance of international brands provides opportunities for domestic firms could pose a challenge. “Some multinationals are still sceptical of sub-contracting to local companies,” Daouda Doumbia, CEO of SIP, a welding and steel assembling company, told OBG. “Despite requiring bigger firms to partner with local enterprises, the rules are often not followed and need to be better emphasised.” Part of the financing for the development and restructuring of industrial zones has already been secured. In July 2016 the government announced that a joint loan by the Export-Import Bank of China and African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) would be channelled into 2000 ha of economic zones. The programme is part of a larger scheme launched by the two banks to support the establishment of industrial zones in Africa. In mid-2015 Afreximbank opened a regional office in Abidjan to support its regional initiatives.
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