Côte d’Ivoire—the world’s largest producer of cocoa and cashew nuts and an oil exporter with a substantial manufacturing industry—has enjoyed remarkable economic success since 2012 and is a major economic power in the subregion.
Political stability has been restored and maintained, despite recent tensions within the ruling coalition. In August 2018, President Alassane Ouattara announced an amnesty for 800 political prisoners prosecuted for crimes related to the post-election crisis of 2010–2011, a decision hailed across the political class and civil society as an important step toward reconciliation. Since then, hundreds of political prisoners have been released, including former First Lady Simone Gbagbo. Following municipal and regional elections in October, consultations with the political class are expected to be held with a view to reforming the Independent Electoral Commission ahead of the presidential election scheduled for 2020—an election with high stakes both for consolidating peace and political stability and for maintaining the pace of economic growth. Like all countries in the subregion, Côte d’Ivoire has had to grapple with the threat of terrorism. The country was hit by a jihadist attack in Grand Bassam (in the southern part of the country) in March 2016.
In 2017, Côte d’Ivoire continued to be one of Africa’s most vibrant economies, with the growth rate expected to remain at around 7.6%. This sound performance, attributable to the rebound in the agriculture sector, attests to the country’s resilience to internal and external shocks.
The economic outlook for the next two to three years is positive. The growth rate is expected to hold steady at around 7% in 2018 and 2019, which bodes well for the maintenance of moderate inflation and the management of public finances through prudent fiscal and monetary policies, as well as the furtherance of reforms aimed at improving the business climate and fostering the effective use of public-private partnerships.
However, the Ivorian economy remains vulnerable to external risks, including volatility in the prices of agricultural and mining products, climate conditions, global and regional security risks, and a tightening of regional and international financial markets.
Government negotiations with labor unions resulted in a truce, putting to rest a series of conflicts that had led to several strikes that paralyzed the administration and public services in 2017.
The key social challenge will be to keep the country’s economy on a strong growth path in order to reduce inequalities significantly. In 2018, Côte d’Ivoire ranked 170th among 189 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index. Between 1985 and 2011, the depth and severity of poverty increased considerably, and the proportion of poor population rose from approximately 10% to 51%. However, the findings of the most recent Living Standards Monitoring Survey carried out by the World Bank in 2015 indicate that the recent economic upturn has brought the poverty rate back down to 46%.
The Government of Côte d’Ivoire must now strive to ensure that the most vulnerable segments of the population receive a greater portion of the spoils of economic growth. It must also work to develop the country’s human capital to better meet the needs of the labor market. The production of modern goods and services requires skills that are still missing from the local workforce. Women must not be overlooked in this drive to develop human capital. Despite recent efforts, Côte d’Ivoire remains one of the countries with the highest gender inequality rates in the world.
lastupdated: Jan 11, 2019