ICI 2014 Forum: Côte d’Ivoire Opens Its Doors to the World
January 30, 2014
ABIDJAN, January 30, 2014 — From January 29 to January 31, investors from all over the world converged on Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital. The city was hosting the “Invest in Côte d’Ivoire Forum (ICI) 2014,” a conference bringing together more than 2,000 participants, including entrepreneurs, government officials, business people and development partners.
The Forum’s objective is to mount a large-scale mobilization of private-sector support for economic recovery as Côte d’Ivoire gets back on its feet after 10 years of political upheaval that has shaken the country’s economic and social foundations, causing it to lose its status as West Africa’s driving force.
The Ivorian Government intends to use this Forum to restore investor confidence by sharing its vision for Côte d’Ivoire’s development in the years ahead.
In an opinion piece published on the Forum’s website, President Alassane Ouattara expressed his aspirations for his country: “We are striving to be the subregion’s hub, the entry point to West Africa, a market of over 300 million individuals. Reaching this goal entails forging strong, sustainable partnerships with economic operators who can seize the opportunities created by growth.”
In 2012, GDP growth stood at 9.8% (compared to a negative rate of -4.7% in 2011), and in 2013, growth was estimated at around 9%. The country aims for double-digit growth in 2014-2015.
Improving the ability for entrepreneurs and others to do business in Cote d’Ivoire has become a chief government priority. According to the report Doing Business 2014, Côte d’Ivoire is among the countries that implemented the highest number of reforms in improving the business climate in the 2012-2013 period.
Conferences and workshops held over the four-day investment Forum will focus on agribusiness, economic infrastructure, public-private partnerships, the promotion of small and medium enterprises (SMEs), and renewable energy --all investment opportunities that the government hopes will attract investors to Côte d’Ivoire.
In his remarks at the opening ceremony of the Forum, Makhtar Diop, World Bank vice president for the Africa Region, commended Côte d’Ivoire for the major reforms it has implemented to support the private sector. “We all know the private sector is the engine of wealth and job creation,” he stated, “and Côte d’Ivoire offers a host of opportunities, particularly in the agribusiness sector.” The country’s central location, he added, provides access to a vast regional market.
We all know the private sector is the engine of wealth and job creation.
Unwavering World Bank support
“The World Bank Group has supported the Government’s efforts to attract investors not only through technical support but also through numerous financing programs intended, among other things, to improve the business climate and promote competitiveness in Côte d’Ivoire,” explains Lorenzo Bertolini, senior private-sector development specialist for the World Bank in Africa.
In infrastructure for instance, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) has provided over US$700 million in investment guarantees backing US$2 billion in direct investments for three major projects: building a third bridge in Abidjan, boosting production capacity for the Azito thermal power plant along with financing from the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and constructing a new gas platform together with an IDA partial risk guarantee.
The World Bank Group has been paying close attention not only to the development of Small and medium sized enterprises, but also to helping Cote d’Ivoire with its business climate improvements — for example, by creating a commercial court, establishing an anti-racketeering unit, and reducing the time needed to start a business and obtain a construction permit.
A day before the opening of the forum, Air France’s brand new superjumbo, double decker Airbus 380 landed at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny international airport in Abidjan (a first for francophone Africa), symbolizing the private sector’s renewed commitment to Côte d’Ivoire.
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