Business etiquette in Côte d’Ivoire is similar to that in France. A handshake is appropriate for both men and women when first meeting someone new. When a woman meets someone for the second time, three kisses on the cheek are an appropriate greeting. Before discussing business, it is polite to break the ice by discussing family, health or the weather.
Côte d’Ivoire has used the West African CFA franc as its currency since 1945, with the franc linked directly to the French Treasury. Through this arrangement, the CFA franc is pegged to the euro at the rate of €1:CFA655.957.
Since January 2014 most leisure visitors to the country can obtain a visa upon arrival, provided that they have pre-enrolled online. Business travellers require an invitation from a Côte d’Ivoire-based entity and, in some cases, proof of employment is also necessary. Business visas generally allow for multiple entries and have a duration of 90 days, but it is possible to have them granted for a one-year period. Foreigners residing in the country typically have a residence permit obtained through their employer.
People largely get around by using privately owned cars, but taxis are ubiquitous throughout the day and, in some neighbourhoods, late at night. They are easy to flag down and can either be shared with other passengers, as is the case with yellow cabs, or rented for an individual ride, as with the red-orange taxis in Abidjan. Red-orange taxi rates vary from CFA500 (€0.76) for a short journey to CFA5000 (€7.62) for a long, night-time itinerary crossing much of the city. Private taxis can generally be found at high-end hotels, and minibus services are also available.
Transportation between various cities in Côte d’Ivoire is typically done by plane, private car or train – although the latter is less frequently available.
Bus services are also available, though this mode of transport is not recommended as a result of volatile security situations in some areas across the country.
Abidjan is the most secure part of the country. Movement during daylight hours is safe and checkpoints are rare, but travellers should take necessary precautions. A watchful eye must be kept when travelling between cities, especially at night. Given the road infrastructure, cities close to Abidjan, such as Assinie, Grand-Bassam and Yamoussoukro, can be reached easily during the day and evening. However, reaching areas that are further away from the capital is more difficult and less secure due to the conditions of the road network. The road that runs from Abidjan to San Pedro – the country’s second-biggest port – is in a poor state, rendering travel by plane or an alternative route as more favourable options.
The international dialling code for Côte d’Ivoire is 225. The country has three mobile operators and prices have fallen in recent years, though there is a great deal of room for improvement in terms of network quality. Each mobile service provider offers access to 3G and 4G technology via the USSD network. Wi-Fi has become widely employed at hotels, bars and various other public areas.
Waiting times in public hospitals can be long, but there are many to choose from in Abidjan. That said, complicated surgical procedures are best conducted outside of Côte d’Ivoire, when possible. A number of private clinics in Abidjan provide health care services that meet international standards.
Côte d’Ivoire follows a continuous working day policy, which means that business hours run from around 8.00am to 4.00pm. Lunch is generally eaten between 12.00pm and 2.00pm. The private sector follows regular European hours with later closing times, especially for foreign firms. Friday afternoons within public entities are usually quiet.
Côte d’Ivoire uses a 220-V, 50-Hz electricity network. European two-pin plugs without a ground pin are widely used across the country. Modern buildings are equipped with European three-pin plugs.
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