Jean-Luc Ruelle, Senior Partner, KPMG Côte d’Ivoire, on maintaining the country’s renewed growth

Jean-Luc Ruelle, Senior Partner, KPMG Côte d’Ivoire

Following a sociopolitical crisis that lasted for more than 10 years, since 2012 Côte d’Ivoire has quickly resumed its economic growth. Indeed, 2012 was a year of strong growth, as GDP increased by 9.8% in real terms, while 2013 will most likely record a similar increase. This growth is based on increased demand due to increases in public and private investment and a spike in consumption. It is also driven by increases in supply, owing to increased activity in the secondary sector, namely agro-industry, construction, oil and energy, and in the tertiary sector, with a boost coming from transport.

This very positive trend will probably be consolidated over the next several years, thereby enabling Côte d’Ivoire to achieve the status of an emerging country by 2020, in accordance with its 2012-15 National Development Plan (PND). As such, and under the framework of the PND and the emergence strategy, economic expansion will be supported by both public and private investment. Additionally, the execution of major public and private works will benefit from adequate sources of funding.

For this purpose, the government has already taken steps to reduce the risk factors that are likely to undermine economic development. Although external risk factors are not controllable, as price decreases for natural resources due to ongoing international crises that could adversely affect sources of the country’s external funding, it should be noted that the Ivorian government’s policy mix and action regarding internal risks is particularly decisive. Measurable progress is being made in terms of stimulating demand and consumption through efforts to sustain national reconciliation, as well as by the means of improving the security of persons and goods throughout Côte d’Ivoire.

Investment promotion depends on the establishment of an effective incentive policy, attracting adequate funding and improving the business climate. Several decisions and measures have been implemented by the country’s authorities in order to achieve this purpose. To begin with, as per Order 2012-487 of June 7, 2012, a new Investment Code has been drawn up and implemented. The code features modern, geographic and sector-targeted aspects that grant Customs and tax incentives, with safeguards that underpin investment security.

The Investment Promotion Agency of Côte d’Ivoire (CEPICI) has spearheaded significant improvements by overseeing the creation of a Single Window, which enables investors to set up companies in Côte d’Ivoire within a reasonable timeframe. The CEPICI has also undertaken systematic research on the means of improving of the business climate and has continued to be active in promoting the country to investors.

Other steps to improve the business environment for the private sector have been taken. Management policy related to public-private partnerships has been the subject of much thought, while policy proposals have been brought to the fore in order to catalyse the reduction of interest rates on bank loans. The social security administration (Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale) has undergone significant reform, which has served to extend the service life of employees. Additionally, pilot projects are being conducted on health insurance for private sector employees, with a view to extend a wide-ranging, effective health insurance scheme.

The legal aspects have also been improved, as a Commercial Court has been created and has been actively demonstrating on a daily basis its capacity to preserve litigants’ rights within the bounds of their commercial activities. In another positive move, urban and rural property law has been reinforced in order to bolster security.

These accompanying measures will be necessary to have in place. Particularly as economic growth continues to be reinforced, it will also be important to guarantee a fair redistribution of wealth among the population to ensure sustainable social peace.

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