Ivory Coast Leader Sees Steady Growth of 9 Percent Through 2017

ABIDJAN, Capital Markets in Africa: Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara said he expects an economic growth spurt in the west African nation that’s outpaced all its continental peers to last until at least through next year, and said the country is looking everywhere for investors as it recovers from internal conflict.

Ivory Coast has no preference for either public or private investment on whether investors come from “China, the Gulf States” or anywhere else, Ouattara said in a speech to the U.S.-Africa Business Forum in New York on Wednesday. “We just want the maximum amount of investment possible.”

The government’s outlook, with a growth forecast of 9 percent this year and next, is a little rosier than the International Monetary Fund, which sees Ivory Coast’s economy expanding 8.5 percent this year and 8 percent in 2017. Growth has averaged 9 percent since 2012, the year after French and United Nations troops helped Ouattara wrest power fromLaurent Gbagbo who had refused to step down after losing 2010 elections.  

Gbagbo stands accused of inciting violence that claimed more than 3,000 lives and brought the economy to its knees after the vote, and is now on trial for crimes against humanity at the International Criminal Court.

Ouattara, 74, revived growth and encourage investment by building new highways and dams, cutting red tape for businesses and increasing cocoa output. He won a second term in October last year, securing 84 percent of the vote, and in May his administration secured more than $15 billion in pledges from donors and lenders to fund its five-year plan to develop the country.

Ivory Coast is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, providing about 45 percent of supply. While the country had a record crop of about 1.8 million tons in the 2014-2015 season, dry weather and the worst Sahara desert winds in more than three decades is set to curb this year’s output.

Ouattara in October plans to organize a referendum on proposed changes to the constitution, including the creation of the post of vice president. He said the amendments will strengthen the justice system and allow for a smooth succession once his term ends in 2020. “After my second mandate, the next generation will have to take over,” he said.

Source: Bloomberg Business News

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