Business etiquette is similar to that in France. A handshake is appropriate for both men and women upon first meeting someone new. When a woman meets someone for the second time, three kisses on the cheek, just as in some regions in France, are an appropriate greeting. Before discussing business, it is considered polite to break the ice by discussing family, health or the weather.
Waiting times can be long in public hospitals but there are many to choose from in Abidjan, though complicated surgical procedures are best conducted outside of Côte d’Ivoire, if possible. There are also a few private clinics in Abidjan providing health care that meets international standards.
Muslims make up roughly 40% of the population, while Christians – mostly Roman Catholics – comprise around 46%. The remaining 14% of people either follow indigenous religions or no religion.
Côte d’Ivoire has used the West African Communauté Financière d’Afrique (CFA) franc since 1945, with the franc linked directly to the French Treasury. Through this mechanism, the CFA franc is pegged to the euro at the fixed rate of €1:CFA655.957. The currency code for the West African franc is XOF.
Côte d’Ivoire uses a 220-V, 50-Hz electricity network. European two-pin plugs without a ground pin are widely used. Modern buildings are equipped with European three-pin plugs.
Abidjan is the most secure part of the country, and movement during daylight hours is safe and checkpoints are rare, but travellers should take necessary precautions while out. A watchful eye must be kept when travelling between different cities by car, 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 hours. However, reaching areas that are further out from the capital is more difficult and less secure given the condition of the road network.
The international dialling code for Côte d’Ivoire is 225. The country currently has six mobile operators, and prices have fallen in recent years, though the current quality of the network leaves room for improvement. 3G services became available in 2012 and wireless connections are generally only available in hotels. Only Abidjan currently has 4G services.
Côte d’Ivoire follows a continuous working day policy, which means that business hours run from around 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Lunch is generally eaten between 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm. The private sector follows regular European hours with later closing times, especially for foreign firms. Friday afternoons are usually quiet within public entities.
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 are generally multi-entry and have a duration of 90 days, but is it possible to have them granted for a one-year period. Foreigners residing in the country typically have a residence permit that was obtained through their employer.
People largely get around 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-coloured taxis. Rates vary between CFA500 (€0.75) for a short journey to CFA5000 (€7.50) 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 available for the intrepid traveller. Transportation between various cities is typically done by train, plane or car. Buses are available for those willing to rough it, though this is not recommended given unsteady security situations in some areas of the country.
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