Interview: Emmanuel Esmel Essis
To what extent has the one-stop shop facilitated investment in Côte d’Ivoire?
EMMANUEL ESMEL ESSIS: The one-stop shop is an essential tool for building an entrepreneurial ecosystem and an important lever for promoting investment. It brings together all departments involved in establishing a company under one roof, ensuring the facilitation of administrative procedures related to the creation, operation, transmission, modification and extension of companies, as well as the cessation of a company’s activities. As a platform for boosting private investment, the one-stop shop uses incentives as laid out under the Investment Code. Investments are chosen in line with sectoral and regional priorities, contribute to the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, and promote local content. More specifically, the Investment Code offers two incentive schemes. Exemptions from Customs duties and value-added taxes are offered in the investment phase, while companies in the operating phase are granted a combination of exemptions and tax credits.
What challenges must be overcome for Côte d’ Ivoire to improve its business climate?
ESSIS: Under the leadership of President Alassane Dramane Ouattara the government has prioritised improving its business climate. Since 2013, when these efforts began, many reforms have been implemented with an aim to strengthen legal institutions; reduce costs and delays; remove barriers; ease the administrative burden; and promote transparency and greater levels of efficiency.
These measures have resulted in an improvement in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, with the country moving up from 177th out of 183 countries in 2012, to 110th out of 190 countries in 2019. Indeed, Côte d’Ivoire was also among the top-10, most reform-oriented countries in 2014, 2015 and 2019. Continued efforts to improve the business environment, combined with progress that has been cited in the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, highlight the fact that these reforms have had a positive impact on our economy. However, there is still work to be done to position Côte d’Ivoire among the top-50 in the ease of doing business index. There are continued obstacles to reforms that will require advocacy and awareness-raising efforts in order to ensure more successful implementation.
In what ways will the country benefit from the national investment policy?
ESSIS: The national investment policy, which was adopted in 2019, is a framework built around the principles of promoting a conducive and transparent business climate, modernising the legal framework for investment, adopting best international practices and standards, respecting the environment, and ensuring socio-cultural cohesion. It aims to attract new investment throughout the country, boost value-added activities and integrate the activities of foreign operators into the local economy to ensure Ivorians benefit. It provides Côte d’Ivoire with modern and dynamic tools to attract foreign direct investment, and will ensure that the country is equipped to meet the challenges that come with improving the business climate – as well as with creating and managing industrial, economic and free zones – while at the same time promoting entrepreneurship.
How does the unique identifier certificate contribute to improvements in the business climate?
ESSIS: The unique identifier certificate is a registration number created online that replaces all other numbers generated for a company. It ensures that we have a reliable database of companies that are carrying out economic activities in Côte d’Ivoire. This allows the authorities to follow up with firms and ensure they contribute to the broadening tax base.
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