Business etiquette is similar to that of 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.
Muslims make up roughly 42.9% of the population, Christians – mostly Roman Catholics – comprise 33.9%, while 3.6% are thought to be animist.
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 mechanism, the CFA franc is pegged to the euro at the fixed rate of €1:CFA655.957.
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. Movement during daylight hours is safe and checkpoints are rare, but travellers should try to 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 due to the conditions of the road network.
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 service provider provides access to 3G/4G technology via the USSD network. In recent years Wi-Fi has become widely used in hotel, bars and in various other public areas.
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. Some private clinics in Abidjan provide health care that meets international standards.
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 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 from 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 in Côte d’ Ivoire is typically done by train, plane or car. Buses are available for those willing to rough it, though this mode of transport is not recommended due to the unsteady security situations in some areas of the country.