The Report: Cote d'Ivoire 2018

Côte d’Ivoire has seen rapid growth since a decade-long bout of civil unrest ended in 2011, registering an average GDP growth rate of 9.3% in the five years to 2016. By far the biggest economy in the UEMOA and the third largest in ECOWAS, the IMF expects GDP expansion in the West African nation to be sustained, forecasting growth of above 7% through to 2019.

Country Profile

Côte d’Ivoire has long been regarded as one of West Africa’s richest and most diverse countries due to its linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity. While agriculture remains a key driver of economic progress, there is an abundance of other natural resources, including crude oil – with proven reserves of around 100m barrels – natural gas and diamonds. As a member of UEMOA, the African Union and ECOWAS, Côte d’Ivoire is an active player in regional politics, having also developed particularly strong ties with Morocco in recent years.

This chapter contains viewpoints from President Alasanne Ouattara and Kofi Annan, Chairman, African Progress Panel; and an interview with Marcel de Souza, President, ECOWAS Commission.

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Having missed out on much of the developing and emerging markets boom that characterised the global economy during 2000-10 due to its domestic political crisis, a more recent period of out-performance has allowed Côte d’Ivoire to bounce back, making it one of the fastest growing economies in the world with a bright medium-term outlook. Strong investment, particularly in infrastructure, has been an important driver of this. According to the IMF, investment as a share of GDP is expected to increase steadily from the 18.2% achieved in 2015 to 20.1% in 2018, before reaching 21.9% by 2020. This should be bolstered by recent efforts to root out corruption and cement rules of law, which have seen improvements in the judicial system and are helping the country move closer to emerging market status. Achieving the latter is the primary goal of the National Development Plan 2016-20.

This chapter contains interviews with Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Minister of Budget and State Portfolio; Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank; Emmanuel Essis, Director-General, Investment Promotion Agency of Côte d’Ivoire; and Jean-Marie Ackah, President, General Confederation of Businesses of Côte d’Ivoire.

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Supported by strong economic growth, the banking industry has expanded rapidly in recent years, financing public and private sector investment in reconstruction since 2011. Profitability among the top-tier banks remains strong, with shareholders in publicly listed institutions benefitting from attractive dividends. Although there has been an influx of new banks over the past decade, increased regulation is expected to weigh heaviest on smaller banks, potentially encouraging mergers and acquisitions, notably by new foreign players. Meanwhile, the proliferation of mobile money has allowed a larger proportion of the population to gain access to financial services, with only 16% of adults in possession of a bank account.

This chapter contains interviews with Tiémoko Meyliet Koné, Governor, La Banque Centrale des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest; and Janine Kacou Diagou, Managing Director, Group NSIA.

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Capital Markets

In September 2018 the Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM), which is headquartered in Abidjan, will celebrate its first 20 years in operation. The past decade has seen a significant increase in the volume of listings, liquidity, valuations and the number of market participants. A long-awaited third compartment of the equity market was launched in the final month of 2017, while the BRVM plans to extend the breadth and depth of the market over the medium term. Initial public offerings have been a key driver of the rise in capitalisation on the BRVM equity market, with the exchange having a standout year in 2016, when four firms listed, raising a combined €129m in capital. The following year saw the flotation of two banks, which raised around €201m in total.

This chapter contains interviews with Edoh Kossi Aménounvé, Managing Director, Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières (BRVM); and Kadi Fadika-Coulibaly, Managing Partner, Hudson & Cie.

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The insurance sector has enjoyed a dynamic half-decade. Strong and sustained economic growth since 2012 has made the industry increasingly attractive, prompting the arrival of multiple new competitors aiming to establish a foothold in West Africa’s biggest insurance market. From its low base, insurance penetration should continue to increase, thereby encouraging overall expansion. With stricter regional insurance rules forcing insurers to strengthen their financial positions, non-compliance by providers should be reduced, easing efforts to expand insurance penetration to new pockets of the population.

This chapter contains an interview with Roger Eugène Boa Johnson, President, Association of Insurance Companies of Côte d’Ivoire.

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Industry & Mining

Industry has quickly become a critical component of the Ivorian economy. This is due, in large part, to an abundance of highly sought-after natural resources. Despite insufficient levels of investment in previous years, Côte d’Ivoire is slowly trying to reclaim its former position as West Africa’s manufacturing centre. Indeed, the sector’s profile is being raised by the creation of new industrial zones and the renovation of existing ones. With several of the world’s mining operators increasing their commitment to West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire remains one of the least explored countries in the region. Mining activity is set to increase in the coming years; however, further investor confidence will depend on the ongoing implementation and validation of the new mining code over the medium term. Easing operating costs by improving infrastructure and logistics performance, as well as reducing electricity prices, which can account for 27% of production costs for mining companies in Côte d’Ivoire, should galvanise further investment.

This chapter contains an interview with Mark Bristow, CEO, Randgold Resources.

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Greater involvement from private energy companies, especially on the production side, has led to increases in electricity production capacity, which reached 2020 MW in 2017. While gas-fuelled thermal power plants accounted for 80% of production that year, plans to boost hydropower capacity, and upcoming biomass and solar power projects, will be critical to diversifying the energy mix and meeting future demand. Although increasing electricity production capacity is a key part of the government’s energy policy, it also emphasises a continued rise in hydrocarbons output, with the authorities announcing in July 2016 that the goal is to double crude oil and natural gas production by 2020.

This chapter contains interviews with Thierry Tanoh, Minister of Petroleum, Energy and Renewable Energy Development; and Amidou Traoré, Director-General, CI-Energies.

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With a wide variety of crops and a high number of cultivation regions, agriculture has long been a valuable economic sector. Fertile land, sought-after cash crops and a favourable climate have all contributed to the industry becoming a crucial source of revenue. Besides being the number-one cocoa producer in the world for many years, Côte d’Ivoire has become one of the largest cashew nut exporters as well. The government is also seeking to raise the amount of domestic processing and in-country value addition by implementing new measures to advance the sector and provide it with a competitive advantage when difficult global market conditions arise.

This chapter contains an interview with Pierre Billon, Managing Director, SIFCA Group.

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Political stability and continued economic growth are fuelling the development of the retail industry. This is attracting new consumer goods manufacturers to the country and driving the development of new shopping outlets with diverse offerings to cater to changing consumer habits. The number of retail points is growing through both brick-and-mortar expansion and e-commerce platforms, as more Ivorians – especially in the major cities – gain access to the internet. Competition is also picking up in modern retailing as international players look to expand their networks of both large-scale supermarkets and hypermarkets. Abidjan has been the main focus of this development, however, as the market matures vendors will likely allocate more resources to less-developed areas.

This chapter contains an interview with Nasser Seklaoui, Director-General, SOCIAM/NASCO.

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The transport sector has undergone rapid development in the past few years, and the country is now re-emerging as a leading regional transport centre. Several projects are under way or in the pipeline, such as the expansion of ports in Abidjan and San Pedro, the rehabilitation of the national railway, and increased handling capability at Abidjan International Airport for both cargo and passengers. Key challenges for the sector include the maintenance of roads and strengthening of links between major ports. Government authorities and private investors alike are seeking to address such issues via the programmes outlined in the 2016-20 National Development Plan, as well as through public-private partnerships.

This chapter contains an interview with Amadou Koné, Minister of Transport; and Philippe Eponon, President, Ivorian Group of Construction and Public Works.

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Construction & Real Estate

In current prices, the construction sector’s value-added was equal to 5.9% of GDP in 2016, according to the BCEAO, up from 1.7% in 2010. Overall, strong demand for residential units and office space, as well as government-led social housing initiatives and falling mortgage interest rates, should underpin continuous development and sales growth over the medium term. This should be bolstered by planned investment under the 2016-20 National Development Plan, which puts a large emphasis on infrastructure construction. The real estate sector has witnessed strong activity in recent years, as stability has returned to the country and a large shortfall in property availability across market segments has attracted international investors and developers. Challenges for the sector include difficulties accessing financing and rising land and cement prices. However, measures are being undertaken to tackle some of these hurdles, including the expansion of domestic cement capacity and the launch of a national land registry.

This chapter contains interviews with Claude Isaac Dé, Minister of Construction, Housing, Sanitation and Urbanism, and Clyde Fakhoury, Administrative Director, PFO Africa.

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In line with economic development, the telecoms industry has undergone a period of significant growth. On top of a strong increase in the penetration of mobile communications services over the past few years, the market is now being revitalised with the expansion of 4G networks, combined with a rising focus on the provision of data services by the three mobile network operators. With investment in infrastructure set to continue and data usage expanding, the industry should maintain its positive performance over the medium-term.

This chapter contains an interview with Bruno Nabagné Koné, Minister of Communications, Digital Economy and the Post.

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Inbound travel has increased considerably since 2011, and Côte d’Ivoire boasts strong potential in terms of natural beauty and a culture of hospitality. The government has also chosen tourism as one of its priority sectors, with the Ministry of Tourism implementing a strategy to make it one of the top-three contributors to GDP by 2020. A stark rise in business tourism has been a significant feature of the sector’s post-conflict evolution. The business tourism segment currently surpasses that of leisure, with spending making up 65.6% of tourism’s contribution to GDP in 2016, reaching 1.4bn, while leisure tourism contributed 34.4%, or €724.6m. The draw of business tourism has led leisure tourism stakeholders to call for more integration between the segments.

This chapter contains an interview with Siandou Fofana, Minister of Tourism.

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The health sector is still recovering from the conflict period due to damaged infrastructure and restricted funding, though recent years have seen investments undertaken to rebuild the health sector from a low base. The 2016-20 National Development Plan made and continues to make valuable progress on key indicators such as the infant mortality rate and access to health services, while major contributions from international development agencies have helped reduce the burden of malaria, HIV and tuberculosis. Though it will be several years before investments in infrastructure and regulation efforts benefit the entire population, initiatives such as mandatory health care coverage and an independent pharmaceutical regulatory agency are necessary steps to develop health care in Côte d’Ivoire.

This chapter contains an interview with Eric Djibo, President and Director-General, International Polyclinic Sainte Anne Marie.

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Significant reform in the education sector is seen as a precondition for Côte d’Ivoire’s manageable and sustainable development. The urgency of this restructuring is closely related to the country’s youth bulge: in 2014, 41.8% of the population was under the age of 15. The state’s main goals for the sector are to increase access to basic education, improve quality and governance, and adapt vocational training to labour market needs. While baseline indicators remain low, consistent prioritisation of education in government budgets since 2011 has led to concrete improvements at both the primary and secondary level.

This chapter contains an interview with Koffi N’Guessan, Director-General, Institut National Polytechnique Félix Houphouët-Boigny.

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In conjunction with EY, this chapter contains an introduction to Côte d’Ivoire’s taxation system.

It also includes a viewpoint from Jean François Albrecht, Country Managing Partner and Regional Leader; and Eric N’guessan, Country and Regional Tax Leader, EY.

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Legal Framework

In conjunction with Bilé-Aka, Brizoua-Bi & Associés, this chapter contains an overview of the legal framework under which local and foreign investors operate in Côte d’Ivoire, covering an overview of the regulations governing different sectors, the rules for investment and expatriate employment, and recently introduced legislation on trade and financial services.

This chapter contains a viewpoint from Joachim Bilé-Aka and Michel K Brizoua-Bi, Founders, Bilé-Aka, Brizoua-Bi & Associés.

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The Guide

The guide contains information on some of the leading hotels in Côte d’Ivoire and contact details for government ministries, embassies and business services, alongside useful tips for first-time or regular visitors.

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