Window of opportunity: A boost in public funding and foreign direct investment is opening doors for numerous infrastructure projects

The government unveiled the National Development Plan (Plan National de Développement, PND) 2021-25 to improve infrastructure development and support the expansion of the construction sector. This agenda is also expected to attract more public and private investment, and boost exports.

Attracting Foreign Investment

The swift response by the government and financial support from the IMF alleviated the burden of the Covid-19 pandemic, making Côte d’Ivoire one of the few African countries to see economic growth in 2020. In its April 2022 World Economic Outlook, the IMF predicted that the PND 2021-25 will help yield annual GDP growth of 7.7% on average between 2021 and 2025, with the contribution of private investment increasing from 14.4% of GDP in 2021 to 22.7% in 2025.

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development’s “World Investment Report 2021”, Côte d’Ivoire attracted $936m in foreign direct investment in 2019 and $509m in 2020. While China was the largest investor in the country, contributing over $4.9bn between 2010 and September 2021, significant levels of financing also came from the EU and Canada. This was amplified by the implementation of the Investment Code of 2018, which has simplified the process for international investors to provide financing and establish businesses in Côte d’Ivoire.

Infrastructure Projects

The government’s expansion of the Autonomous Port of Abidjan will enhance the country’s reputation as a gateway for trade in West Africa. The second container terminal, the Côte d’Ivoire Terminal, is expected to be operational in late 2022 and will support the expansion of the country’s industrial development.

Foreign investors are assisting Abidjan in becoming an economic centre by building a number of energy, transport and commercial projects. The PND 2021-25 aims to strengthen energy security by raising energy production from 2229 MW in 2020 to 3428 MW in 2025. This objective is based on the development of private ventures, including oil and gas exploration, solar power generation and the electrification of rural areas.

In response to foreign interest in establishing offices in Abidjan, several commercial building projects are in progress. “One aspect we need to focus on involves boosting the volume, capacity and availability of office space for the government. We aim to construct buildings of 15-20 floors to meet these demands,” Amadou Koné, minister of transport, said at a roundtable discussion in 2021. To achieve this, renovations on and construction of towers by Belgian firm BESIX are under way. This will boost employment in construction and encourage job creation in the professional sector.

Confidence in Côte d’Ivoire’s growth as a regional economic and industrial leader is evident through the construction of the new 1081-km Abidjan-Lagos highway. The $15.6bn initiative is being led by the ECOWAS.

Social Housing & Real Estate

Another goal of the PND 2021-25 is to improve the business climate and overall quality of life by expanding investment in housing and providing universal access to education, health care and electricity. An influx of low-wage and middle-class workers into the major cities is increasing the demand for affordable housing and public services.

However, the growth of Abidjan has recently gained precedence over the housing needs of the rural population. The government plans to address the issue by constructing more housing in rural areas. The creation of new public-private partnerships may facilitate this process. Some businesses, such as the real estate investment firm Econyx Group, and social organisations are already assisting the creation of more affordable housing in Abidjan in light of the shifting demand across the country and the difficulties securing financing. Increased funding from the African Development Bank and the International Fund for Agricultural Development, in partnership with the government, is expected to improve economic security in under-served areas.