As citizens have begun rebuilding and expatriates have started returning to Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s property market has grown rapidly since 2011. With private initiatives flourishing and public spending on the rise, the market is witnessing genuine developments, but much more will be needed to close a housing gap exacerbated by a decade of civil unrest.

Housing and urban development has been allocated CFA565.2bn (€847.8m) under the 2012-15 National Development Plan (Plan Nationale de Développement, PND), a proportion of which will be used to bridging the housing gap. Of this total, the private sector is expected to contribute 60%. Growth over the next two to three years is set to be concentrated in Abidjan and, to a lesser extent, in other large urban areas, rather than in new-build greenfield projects. Côte d’Ivoire is estimated to have reached an urbanisation rate of 60% by 2012, partly due to Abidjan’s expansion, while outlying cities such as Bingerville and Grand-Bassam are fast becoming developers’ newest frontiers, with many large residential projects under development.


As is the case across West Africa, housing demand is outstripping supply, with a cumulative and growing gap of more than 600,000 units, according to the PND. Annual demand for new residences is 40,000 units, with the shortfall fuelling inflation in both housing prices and rents in denser areas such as Abidjan.

“Since 2011, real estate professionals estimate that rental prices increased by roughly 10% every year,” Mariam Mahama, sales director at local real estate agency Kalimba, told OBG. “Out of 10 requests for residential properties, we may be able to satisfy only two or three clients because of the current deficit,” she added.

Unmet demand is also driving growth in informal housing and unplanned settlements in Abidjan’s poorest neighbourhoods, in particular Washington and Gobelet in Cocody district. At the same time, there is also a gap in the high-end segment, including luxury apartments and villas in Deux Plateaux and Riviera 3, among other areas, brought about through the gradual return of multinational corporations and international organisations, such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), which had temporarily moved its headquarters to Tunis in 2003, and their high-income employees.


In an effort to reduce the housing deficit, as laid out under the PND, the government plans to build a total of 60,000 homes by 2015, with a budget of CFA428bn (€642m). The aim is to boost access to housing priced from CFA5m (€7500) to CFA15m (€22,500), above which units are no longer categorised as low cost. In addition, the scheme will target lower mid-market units priced up to CFA20m (€30,000), for a market of lower-income earners with monthly revenue of less than CFA400,000 (€600). Moroccan property developer Addoha will lead a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement to build 10,000 units by 2020, for an investment of Dh2.2bn (€202.6m), with construction at the Locodjoro and Koumassi sites in Abidjan having begun in early 2014. Another Moroccan developer, Alliances, has invested Dh2bn (€184.2m) in the construction of 7800 houses at Anyama, located about 20 km north of Abidjan, 1580 of which are financed by local group Banque Atlantique, part-owned by Groupe Banque Centrale Populaire du Maroc (GBCP).

Funding Construction

The 80% state-owned Ivorian Company of Construction and Real Estate Management (Société Ivoirienne de Construction et de Gestion Immobilière, SICOGI) is responsible for building a quarter of the 60,000 units outlined under the PND. Such is the demand that the first phase of SICOGI’s allocation process for low-income units saw 58,000 applications, of which 20% were ineligible. Construction had only started on 5000 units by June 2014, according to SICOGI’s director-general. One of the reasons for the delay is that SICOGI does not benefit from any additional government funding to build low-cost housing, but rather relies on commercial banks for financing.

“Having been stripped of public funding in the 1980s, it has been challenging to meet our production objectives,” Camara Loukimane, CEO of SICOGI, told OBG. “On the other hand, it leaves greater opportunities to the private sector,” he said.

In order to access new funds, the company has been linking up with foreign partners to help underwrite building campaigns. In early 2014, for example, Megatron Federal, a subsidiary of South Africa’s Ellies Holding, signed a partnership with SICOGI to build 3000 social houses. The company has also invested CFA6bn (€9m) in a new brick factory for 2015. SICOGI plans to tap into this market and increase its margins by 3%, which will provide greater finances to invest in real estate projects. It is also meant to supply SICOGI’s partners and accelerate project execution while cutting down on logistics costs associated with imported materials.


A major constraint to improving housing supply and reducing costs comes from land availability, with land disputes in both urban and rural areas an ongoing challenge. According to the World Bank’s 2015 “Doing Business” report, Côte d’Ivoire ranked 124th out of 189 countries for registering property. The prevalence of informal and “fake” titles hampers property developments, with just 30% of landowners holding property titles. This limits the scope of lending to developers, as well as providing mortgages.

The government has sought to streamline the permitting process. According to the World Bank, it takes around 30 days to complete the six steps needed register a property, with costs of up to 9.6% of a property’s value. By establishing a one-stop shop – le Service du Guichet Unique du Foncier et de l’Habitat – to award property titles and proof of ownership, as well as plan certificates and building permits, the country improved its ranking by 14 places over 2014 levels. According to the Investment Promotion Centre, between 2013 and 2014 the time it takes to obtain a building permit fell by more than 75%, from 364 days to 87 days.

Financing Demand

Ensuring that prospective homeowners, particularly first-time buyers, have access to funds is also a government priority. Under the aegis of the state-owned Banque Nationale d’Investissement (BNI), the Mobilisation Account for Housing scheme is a national fund providing subsidised mortgages. With maturities of between 11 and 15 years at rates of 9% for properties valued under CFA20m (€30,000), the initiative assists households with annual incomes of below CFA800,000 (€1200) to enter the housing market.

In addition, as part of enhancing access to housing throughout the Union Economique et Monétaire Ouest-Africaine (UEMOA) region, the Caisse Régionale de Refinancement Hypothécaire de l’UEMOA ( CRRHUEMOA) was set up in 2010. As of February 2014, the fund counted 49 financial institutions as shareholders, with equity of CFA5.32bn (€8m). Majority shareholders are the West Africa Development Bank (14.1%), the ECOWAS Bank for Investment and Development (9.4%) and housing finance institution Shelter Afrique (8.7%). The remaining 67.8% equity is held by minority shareholders, including 46 commercial banks in the UEMOA.

The fund aims to refinance mortgage loans made by its shareholders as part of raising the volume and maturity of mortgages, and lowering interest rates. Over a period of 15 months – from July 2012 to October 2013, the CRRH-UEMOA issued a total of CFA51.8bn (€77.7m) in three bond issuances, with an annual interest rate of 6%, and maturities of 10 and 12 years, to refinance mortgages loans made by 23 banks. According to the CRRH-UEMOA, the first two bond issuances mobilised a total of CFA31.66bn (€47.5m): CFA12.5bn (€18.8m) for the first issue and CFA19.16bn (€28.7m) for the second issue, thus allowing the fund to refinance loans made by 18 banks in seven UEMOA countries.

For the first two bond issuances, Côte d’Ivoire’s most active banks using the mechanism were Ecobank, BIAO, Banque Atlantique Côte d’Ivoire and Bank of Africa. Banque Atlantique Côte d’Ivoire, a subsidiary of GBCP, has also been active in financing residential projects, especially social housing by Moroccan developers.

Industrial Zones

The residential sector is far from the only one experiencing a shortfall of supply. Industrial land in Abidjan is becoming scarce, putting on hold a number of industrial projects. “There are currently 60 unprocessed demands for industrial land from large companies looking for a place to settle,” Jean-Marie Ackah, president of the Union des Grandes Entreprises Industrielles de Côte d’Ivoire, told OBG.

The three industrial zones – Koumassi, Vridi and Yopougon – all located in Abidjan, are fully occupied, forcing industrial newcomers to look beyond the traditional commercial capital. “Some industrial companies are moving to Yamoussoukro, where land is more readily available,” said Ackah. “However this negatively affects their competitiveness, in logistics costs particularly.” A highway linking Yamoussoukro, 243 km from Abidjan, to the closest port was completed in 2013, yet trucking costs to the economic capital remain higher.

Nonetheless, the lower costs of being located outside of Zone A (Abidjan and its suburbs) could offset higher transport costs. In Zone B, which comprises Yamoussoukro, Bouake, Korhogo and San Pédro, the industrial lease price is CFA2000 (€3) per sq metre, some 50% cheaper than the Koumassi and Vridi zones.

Industrial lease prices rapidly increased in early 2014, a reflection of growing land scarcity in the commercial capital. For many years, square-metre prices were low compared to other countries in the region, leading to congestion in industrial zones. Prices were as low as CFA65 (€0.10) per sq metre in Koumassi, CFA100 (€0.15) per sq metre in Vridi and CFA100-165 (€0.15-0.25) per sq metre in Yopougon. Hence, the government has restructured its fee structure for industrial land as of January 2015. New industrial lease prices are as follows: CFA4000 (€6) per sq metre in Koumassi, CFA4000 (€6) per sq metre in Vridi and CFA3500 (€5.25) per sq metre in Yopougon. The new price structure is a better reflection of regional and international trends.

Taking advantage of the new highway, the government is also planning a PPP special economic zone, Zone Economique Spéciale PK24, located on the northern highway at kilometre 24. Covering approximately 940 ha, it is hoped the zone will attract industrial processing and value-added activities (See Industry chapter).

Office Space

Abidjan’s Plateau still hosts most financial firms and public administrations, though other businesses have since moved out to Zone 4 and Deux Plateaux, on either side. Given the lack of space, a growing number of firms with low employee overheads have converted homes into offices in suburban areas. “Nongovernmental organisations, mining, and oil and gas companies usually prefer to settle in villas in Deux Plateaux and Zone 4,” Mariam Mahama, sales director at local real estate agency Kalimba, told OBG.

The opening of Abidjan’s third bridge should make Cocody and Deux Plateaux more attractive, linking it directly to Zone 4 and the airport beyond. Luxembourg’s serviced-offices provider Regus, for instance, entered the Ivorian market in September 2011, offering physical and virtual offices just 15 km from the international airport. Rental spaces quickly reached a high occupancy rate, prompting the company to expand to Zone 3, with new offices opening in September 2014.


Although Côte d’Ivoire does not yet host largescale shopping mall developments, such as in Ghana or Nigeria, a number of mid-sized commercial spaces have been developed by Lebanese and French investors. For many years, the retail segment was a duopolistic market, dominated by Compagnie de distribution de Côte d’Ivoire and Prosuma (see Industry chapter), but the sector is now expanding. Construction permits for the first Carrefour branded store in sub-Saharan Africa were obtained in early 2014. Due to open on the Boulevard Valéry Giscard d’Estaing in Abidjan’s Marcory district in 2015, the 20,000-sq metre hypermarket will also host several global-branded stores.


Despite challenges in land access, the government has made strides in streamlining a complex administrative system. While private investors are focusing on gaps in the middle and upper segments of the residential market, the government’s social housing programme should drive low-cost developments in the coming years. As foreign investment expands in industry and services, however, new solutions are needed to address land problems that could constrain growth.