Ivory Coast at 58: A Look at the Nation’s Achievements and Development

With two civil wars behind it, we look at one of the continent's fastest growing economies, as it celebrates 58 years of independence.

 

Ivory Coast gained independence from France almost 60 years ago, now in its 58th year, the country continues to achieve positive growth and development while impacting the world at large.

The journey hasn’t always been smooth for the Coast, however. Having to deal with two civil wars, with the second being as recent as 2011; the result of the aftermath of a general election, which threw the country into complete disarray.

As expected the conflict resulted in thousands of casualties, with numerous deaths reported in places like Bloleqin and Duekoue. This devastation made it difficult to see a way out. In the eyes of the world, there was no way the government could reunite the broken nation which was deeply divided at the time.

However, in a very short space of time, Ivory Coast has worked incredibly hard to overcome the disaster. Nowadays, the country is known for being among the world’s largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. It also produces rubber, cotton, bananas and so much more.

One of Africa’s leading producers of agricultural products, it’s been estimated that the Ivory Coast exported around $10.1 billion worth of goods around the world in 2017.

The agriculture sector accounts for 25% of the country’s GDP. The 2017 GDP growth rate was driven mainly by the agricultural sector, and this is despite the recent drop in the price of cocoa. Agriculture is also responsible for keeping two-thirds of the nation in employment, which is contributing to the country’s plan to continue decreasing the unemployment rate.

Ivory Coast is a mineral-rich country that is on a stable and improving path to real economic riches. It possesses minerals like petroleum, natural gas, diamonds, manganese, iron, cobalt, and gold.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) views the nation as one of the continent’s fastest-growing economies. Its increasing prosperity and phenomenal growth contrasts largely with the rest of sub Saharan African countries. The average per capita income has risen nearly 40% since the end of the crisis in late 2011, reaching $1,630 in 2017, at this rate, the country could join the group of middle-income economies, as defined by the World Bank, by 2035, with income per capita at around $4,300.

It’s worthy to note that while they are experiencing this economic growth, it’s not yet inclusive. Although the official poverty rate is decreasing, the government have made it a priority to continue shrinking it and hope to improve the redistribution of the nation’s wealth.

“We expect growth to become more inclusive so that the population will benefit more than what it has,” IMF’s Ivory Coast Mission Chief, Dhaneshwar Ghura.

Sports is also a major part of the Ivorian narrative. Within football, the West African nation has produced some of the world’s best footballers including Yaya Toure, Serge Aurier, Max Gradel and Didier Drogba. All of whom have or are currently playing for international leagues and have also played for their national team.

Drogba, in particular, has firmly cemented his legacy as a footballing legend. He has been using his platform to raise awareness for various causes in Africa and especially Ivory Coast. His foundation works to improve education for disadvantaged youths and has recently partnered with Nestle to build a new school in the village he grew up in.

“I say to young people who want to become Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure…education is very important, it’s this which is going to allow you to have a good career”

The Ivorian economy’s short and mid-term outlook is positive, as it is on course to stay on a GDP growth path of some 7% to 7.5% in the coming years. The government is on course to reduce its deficit from 4.2% of GDP in 2017 to 3% of GDP in 2019. A host of administrative reforms are set to increase the tax base and hopefully bring in more revenues, and the government are keen to ensure continuous growth in all avenues.

The positive changes are noticeable by the world, and the country is making self-development key to ensuring its own continuous and active growth.