President Alassane Dramane Ouattara on the path to prosperity: Viewpoint

President Alassane Dramane Ouattara

Our country has recovered from a decade of turmoil and now sustains strong economic growth. All the indicators are positive, and Côte d’Ivoire is currently among the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world. This strong performance is acknowledged by all our partners, including large international institutions. In terms of construction and rehabilitation of economic and social infrastructure, significant results can be seen by everyone, especially in roads, water, electricity, education and health. The entire country is being modernised.

The ongoing infrastructure projects – including roads, bridges, ports and airports – are the first steps toward modernisation, and will serve as the foundation for Côte d’Ivoire to move forward to become an emerging country by 2020. Examples include the Abidjan-Yamoussoukro highway, the Henri Konan-Bédié toll bridge, the two interchanges in Riviera 2 and Marcory, the Abidjan-Bassam highway, and the Jacqueville, Bouaflé and Béoumi bridges. In addition, the rehabilitation of the Boulevard Lagunaire will start soon, as will the extension and modernisation of the Port of Abidjan.

The year 2014 will mark the end of drinking water shortages in Abidjan, thanks to the works at Bonoua. Also, almost 100% of the Ivorian population will have access to ICT services due to the use of new technology. Strong focus has also been given to the construction of social housing. The craze for such programmes is proof of the sizeable opportunities for investors in this sector. The government is keen to go forward with its homeownership policy for low-income and middle-income earners, and in the years to come the thorny housing issue will be mitigated, both in Abidjan and in the interior. While there is still work to do, we are on the path that leads to prosperity. Reforms need to be completed so that the population can benefit from the country’s economic performance. Consumer prices are high, and many Ivorians struggle to make ends meet, so the fight against high prices is a priority. I have asked the government to reinforce dialogue with market players and provide solutions to this pressing issue.

The country’s strong economic performance must translate into improved incomes and more help for disadvantaged populations. As civil servants’ salaries had been frozen since 1988, the government decided to raise the guaranteed minimum monthly wage from CFA36,607 (€55) to CFA60,000 (€90). Each civil servant’s salary will rise steadily, so that purchasing power increases. In 2013 and 2014, CFA137.7trn (€207bn) was allocated to increase salaries.

In addition, despite a volatile commodities market, the state maintained remunerative prices for farmers in the cocoa, coffee and cotton businesses in order to improve farmers’ incomes and living conditions. In the same vein, after restructuring our health system in 2013, the government decided to roll-out universal health coverage, effective from January 2015.

Another real concern for us is employment, particularly youth employment, which remains a priority. With a new set of measures already taken, the current pace of job creation will go even faster. Despite some difficulties, the goal of creating 1m jobs over five years is still within reach. These measures will provide a breath of fresh air, especially in an economy where agriculture remains the main source of employment.

However, I would again like to pay tribute to our peasant parents, who have always shown great enthusiasm for work, and have made the rise in food crops and exports possible. We are also planning to improve access to microfinance for projects that are initiated by young people, and to increase allocations to the Women’s Support Fund of Côte d’Ivoire.

The sharp improvement in the country’s security index, which improved from 3.8 to 1.3 in one year, shows that the safety of our citizens is well served throughout the country. The return of international organisations to Abidjan, including the African Development Bank, is eloquent testimony. In 2013 Côte d'Ivoire resumed its place in the comity of nations. It is now set to continue to deepen its relations with its neighbours, and to strengthen its ties with other countries.

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Cover of The Report: Côte d'Ivoire 2015

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