Interview: Emmanuel Essis
How will the revision of the Investment Code improve incentives for investors?
EMMANUEL ESSIS: McKinsey has been chosen to perform an assessment on the strength and weaknesses of the code as it currently stands, as well as of the investment environment as a whole. They have looked into the investment ecosystem from the perspective of investors, and identified the challenges that come up during the investment process.
So far, what we can say is that any revision of the code will entail a better targeting of incentives towards those companies that need it most. We hope to minimise the dead-weight loss, as local investors who have not benefitted from the code during their initial investment are finding themselves competing against those who have. We will also seek to better consider the use of local content by providing additional support to companies that are subcontracting, sourcing or helping develop human capital in Côte d’Ivoire. The budget allocated towards these incentives will remain the same, but they will direct government effort towards the goals highlighted in the National Development Plan 2016-20.
Indeed, the journey of an investor does not stop with the Investment Code. Investors have praised the competitiveness and transparency of the code, but have encountered hurdles during later implementation stages. Providing better service to investors by lowering administrative procedures, and achieving optimal coordination between public departments and agencies, is thus critical in attracting and maintaining investment into our economy.
Furthermore, turning the Investment Code from a decree into law would further the investment authority’s ability to support investors through the process.
Which sector offers the most potential for investment, and what are the challenges that it faces?
ESSIS: Despite recent efforts, Côte d’Ivoire is still missing adequate infrastructure to satisfy foreign and local investors. In spite of more attractive incentives for those willing to invest outside of Abidjan, only 10% of total investments has been directed to the interior regions. Thus, incentives alone aren’t enough to attract investment: they must be accompanied by adequate infrastructure and service offering.
From energy and telecommunications to ports, roads and airports, there is increasing pressure on infrastructure as a result of economic growth. In this context the building and public works sector accounts for the second-largest share of private investment. The agro-industrial sector remains the largest, with investments going into food and cash crops, and their respective processing capacities.
Our development policy is based on three pillars that need to be addressed simultaneously: industrialisation, infrastructure development and the service sector.
What measures can be expected to improve the public administration’s efficiency?
ESSIS: In the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2012” report, Côte d’Ivoire ranked 167th out of 183 countries on the ease of doing business index. Since then we’ve successfully racked up numerous quick wins and positioned ourselves as an attractive destination for foreign investors. At least 50 reforms, both operational and regulatory, have been realised, and according to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2018” report, Côte d’Ivoire improved its position to 139th out of 190 economies on the ease of doing business index.
In addition to that, the Côte d’Ivoire government signed the chart for the dematerialisation of administrative services in 2015, which includes 62 reforms set to be implemented by 2018 at a cost of €19.5m. This process begun in 2017 with the establishment of online tax payments and Customs procedures, for example. We are expecting a further 10 reforms to be completed in the coming year, including the complete dematerialisation of company registration procedures.
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