Bolstered by its natural resources and political stability, Ivory Coast is enjoying rapid growth and paving the way for a successful modern economy.
In 2015 Ivory Coast ranked 171st out of 188 countries in the UN Human Development Index (based on GDP, life expectancy and education level). The poverty rate (49%), unemployment (100 employed for 85 unemployed) and illiteracy (56%) remain high. But since 2012 the “Cocoa Republic” has enjoyed remarkable economic success, most notably because of its return to political stability.
In 2015 Ivory Coast ranked 171st out of 188 countries in the UN Human Development Index (based on GDP, life expectancy and education level). The poverty rate (49%), unemployment (100 employed for 85 unemployed) and illiteracy (56%) remain high. But since 2012 the “Cocoa Republic” has enjoyed remarkable economic success, most notably because of its return to political stability. Over the last five years it has been Africa’s fastest-growing economy, averaging more than 8% growth. Its GDP in 2016 stood at €35 billion (or €1,400 per capita). According to the World Bank, its outlook over the coming years remains promising.
Ivory Coast is a member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and plays a significant economic role in the region. It accounts for 39% of the money supply and contributes to one third of the GDP of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), an eight-country union sharing the CFA franc. This position, together with the country’s stability, has proven a magnet for people to relocate to Ivory Coast. In fact, newcomers now comprise 25% of the total population.
Agriculture: the cornerstone of the economy
The Ivorian economy is largely based on the primary sector, which accounts for a quarter of GDP and 60% of exports. Ivory Coast is the world’s leading producer and exporter of cocoa, timber, cashew nuts and cola nuts, and the world’s third largest coffee exporter. It also produces oil, gas and electricity. Faced with the shrinking supply of arable land and low price of raw materials, the country is now turning its attention to industrialisation to increase its income. At present, industry accounts for just 20% of its GDP. High-potential sectors are civil engineering, mining, agribusiness, consumer goods (especially textiles, clothing and leather goods), ICT, and financial services.
Ivory Coast is the only “non-significant oil-producing” African country with a structurally surplus trade balance. In 2015, it had exports of €11.3 billion and imports of €9.4 billion. Its main customers are the Netherlands, the United States, Belgium, Germany, France and Angola. Its main suppliers are Nigeria, France, China, the United States and South Korea. In 2016, French exports to Ivory Coast totalled €1,073 million, with medicines and cereals accounting for almost a quarter of that total. French imports amounted to €787 million - mainly cocoa, coffee and tropical fruit.
Seventy percent of Ivorians understand and speak French, which is the country’s official language. Ivory Coast is a member of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (an international organisation representing countries and regions where French is a lingua franca or customary language), and its major cities are members of the Association Internationale des Maires Francophones (an international organisation of mayors of cities in French-speaking countries). Ivory Coast’s economic growth and special ties with France are conducive to trade development between the two countries.