Economy of Ivory Coast
|Currency||West African CFA franc (XOF, CFA)|
|655.957 CFA francs per euro|
|AU, AfCFTA, WTO, ECOWAS, WAEMU|
GDP per capita
GDP per capita rank
GDP by sector
|2.0% (2020 est.)|
Population below poverty line
|41.5 medium (2015)|
Labour force by occupation
|agriculture: 68% (2007 est.)|
|Unemployment||9.4% (2013 est.)|
|foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, gold mining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity|
|110th (medium, 2020)|
|Exports||$11.74 billion (2017 est.)|
|cocoa, coffee, timber, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, fish|
Main export partners
|Imports||$9.447 billion (2017 est.)|
|fuel, capital equipment, foodstuffs|
Main import partners
|−$1.86 billion (2017 est.)|
Gross external debt
|$13.07 billion (31 December 2017 est.)|
|47% of GDP (2017 est.)|
|−4.2% (of GDP) (2017 est.)|
|Revenues||7.749 billion (2017 est.)|
|Expenses||9.464 billion (2017 est.)|
|Economic aid||recipient: ODA, $1 billion (1996 est.)|
|$6.257 billion (31 December 2017 est.)|
The economy of Ivory Coast is stable and currently growing, in the aftermath of political instability in recent decades. The Ivory Coast is largely market-based and depends heavily on the agricultural sector. Almost 70% of the Ivorian people are engaged in some form of agricultural activity. GDP per capita grew 82% in the 1960s, reaching a peak growth of 360% in the 1970s. But this proved unsustainable and it shrank by 28% in the 1980s and a further 22% in the 1990s. This coupled with high population growth resulted in a steady fall in living standards. Gross national product per capita, now rising again, was about US$727 in 1996. (It was substantially higher two decades ago.)
After several years of lagging performance, the Ivorian economy began a comeback in 1994, due to the devaluation of the CFA franc and improved prices for cocoa and coffee, growth in non-traditional primary exports such as pineapples and rubber, limited trade and banking liberalization, offshore oil and gas discoveries, and generous external financing and debt rescheduling by multilateral lenders and France. The 50% devaluation of franc zone currencies on 12 January 1994 caused a one-time jump in the inflation rate to 26% in 1994, but the rate fell sharply in 1996–1999. Moreover, government adherence to donor-mandated reforms led to a jump in growth to 5% annually in 1996–99. A majority of the population remains dependent on smallholder cash crop production. Principal exports are cocoa, coffee, and tropical woods.
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By developing-country standards, Ivory Coast has outstanding infrastructure. There is a network of more than 13,000 kilometres (8,000 mi) of paved roads; modern telecommunications services, including a public data communications network; cellular phones and Internet access; two active ports, one of which, Abidjan, is the most modern in West Africa; rail links-in the process of being upgraded-both within the country and to Burkina Faso; regular air service within the region and to and from Europe; and real estate developments for commercial, industrial, retail, and residential use. Ivory Coast's location and connections to neighboring countries makes it a preferred platform from which Europeans conduct West African business operations. The city of Abidjan is one of the most modern and liveable cities in the region for wealthy French expatriates. Its school system is highly regarded and includes an excellent international school based on a U.S. curriculum and several excellent French-based schools.
Ivory Coast has stepped up public investment programs after the stagnation of the pre-devaluation era. The government's public investment plan accords priority to investment in human capital, but it also will provide for significant spending on economic infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Continued infrastructure development is also expected to occur because of private sector activity.
In the new environment of government disengagement from productive activities and in the wake of recent privatizations, anticipated investments in the petroleum, electricity, water, and telecommunications sectors, and in part of the transport sector, will be financed without any direct government intervention.
Mean wages were $1.05 per man-hour in 2009.
Ivory Coast is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to weather conditions. Despite attempts by the government to diversify the economy, it is still largely dependent on agriculture and related activities. Forced labor by children bought and sold as slaves is endemic in cacao production.
Earlier in the 1880s and 1890s, the French had conquered and ruled most territories in West Africa and managed them either under the ruling of Senegal or as individual regions. In 1895, the Colonial Ministry in Paris launched a plan to establish the Afrique Occidentale Française (AOF) or the Federation of French West Africa in order to decentralize French authoritative power into Africa so that proper political decisions could be made based on the local modalities. Also, they launched a development project along with the establishment of AOF, named mise en valeur — “rational economic development”, to level up African living standards and fulfill the French imperial needs. A series of actions were executed, including developments in areas of economic trade and market, transportation and communication, African civilians’ legal rights opportunities, and elite projects for the intelligence input into Europe. This Federation of French West Africa included 8 countries: Mauritania, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, and Benin.
In order to develop the trade market between Africa and France, and to make AOF as self-supporting territories with returning profits, the same as other preindustrial societies, the French government started with AOF’s agricultural development. Not only solving up civilians’ basic food crises, but agricultural surplus could help produce other products and commodities, which facilitates trade and market to flow and function. For example, the yearly massive production of peanuts in West Africa back in the 1980s had reached 5,288,000 metric tons. Due to the huge consumer needs in the United States, they were transported and traded into cities of New York and Boston for direct sale. Meanwhile, such mass production of peanuts was also exported to metropolitan industrial European countries, such as Marseilles and Bordeaux, where they were transformed into soap, wax, and other industrial commodities. As a trade return, some manufactured products were also sold back into West Africa, such as textiles, salt, iron, tobacco, and guns.
However, only a few regions of AOF were qualified to be actively engaged in such cash-corp trade. Preparatory agricultural development in Africa required countries with geographical advantages for crop plantation, opportunities with the exploitation of irrigation systems, coastal benefits for transportation and telecommunication, and the Ivory Coast, also as the Republic of Côte d'Ivoire, was one of the few with these advantages and opportunities. The president of Côte d'Ivoire seized the opportunity with the funds and technical guidance provided by France to develop their agricultural and industrial sectors by exporting products: “The Ivory Coast has had policies focused on the development of agriculture, with much attention to peasant agriculture and the export sector has been regarded as the main source of growth.” 
Firstly, Ivory Coast was geographically suitable for the growth of certain grains such as peanuts, palm-oil, and kernels. Ivory Coast is located on the Gulf of Guinea, between the countries of Liberia and Ghana, with a land area reaching 322,463 kilometers. The Gulf of Guinea is a coastal region situated by the Atlantic Ocean, and its river outlets had drained through almost all West African territories. Small rivers like Sasandra, Bandama, and Comoé are the main outlets from the Niger River that flowed through Ivory Coast. Meanwhile, because West Africa is under the tropical climate with frequent rainy seasons (twice a year), the tropical water over Ivory Coast is of relatively low salinity compared to normal coastal areas. Along with the warm temperature in West Africa, although a rainforest was in the south part of Ivory Coast, which limited the potential agricultural planting area, however, the north part of Ivory Coast were areas with woodlands or savannah, providing fertile soil for crops like peanuts and palm kernels to grow.
Despite the natural geographical advantage of Ivory Coast, the irrigation systems invested by the French government over the Niger Valley had boosted the production of cash-corps as well. The irrigation concept of building dams and systems of irrigation canals was first brought up in Niger Valley in 1918 when cotton was in high demand after WWII. A consortium was convinced that investing in the irrigation system could help turn Western Sudan into a vast cotton plantation and sufficient lower-price cotton products could be imported into France. On March 15, 1924, a policy was carried out by the Governor General of Jules Cardeto to implement the long-term scheme on Niger irrigation systems. Labourers were forced to dig ditches, canal systems and dams to set barrages across rivers and canals to control the flowing direction of the water. Meanwhile, in 1932, the Office du Niger was established as an autonomous department managing the construction of the irrigation system and the settlement of labourers and farmers. The construction of the irrigation system was designed and carried out all by the Office du Niger itself, as Wilde says, “Rather than letting all the administrative services of the French Sudan contribute, each according to its own competence, the Office du Niger became progressively more or less sovereign within the limits of its territory.” Although the Niger project failed due to insufficient labourers in that region, the funds and existing irrigation system still beneficially facilitate the crop production for areas as Ivory Coast and other Niger regions.
Another factor leading to the success of agriculture in Ivory Coast is the development of transportation and telecommunication. After the Industrial Revolution, the French government proposed to bring more advanced techniques into West Africa to facilitate exportations. Roads, railways, and harbors were constructed and telecommunication was reformed. First of all, the Ivory Coast has one of the most prosperous harbors in Western Africa—Abidjan, the capital city of Ivory Coast, also named as “Pearl of the lagoons”. Basically all administrative offices were set in Abidjan, and it was the major stopover place for cash-corp products to be exported to France and where all returned manufactured goods were imported. At the same time, there existed a railway across the southern rainforests and Abidjan was located by savannah, which was the main area for crop production. This railway had reduced a great amount of time for interior commodities transportation. For public telecommunications, international development organizations and NGOs, such as the World Bank, pushed corporatization and privatization for public telecommunications operators in Africa by linking loans to sectors reforming PTTs (Post, Telephone, and Telegraph), helping West African countries to restructure their telecommunications and thus, with commands and instructions being delivered more timely, the cash-corp trade and market became more transparent and efficient.
As emphasized by president Felix of Ivory Coast, “Agriculture is a major component of the Ivorian economy and the basis of its development. It contributes one-third of the GDP, provides around 50 percent of exports, and employs an estimated 75 percent of the labor force...”, the economic achievements brought by agricultural development were undeniable and as expected. The Ivory Coast’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) increased at a rate of 7.5% annually during the beginning of the agricultural development era. However, an unbalanced economy entity would easily be defeated and decline. Along with the world economic depression, and how Ivory Coast’s economy mainly depended on only agriculture, the country’s economy declined at a precipitate pace. Although specific efforts were made, such as expanding the categories of export corps, additional assistance from France to aid Ivory Coast’s economy, all of these failed when waste disposal and other environmental problems were exacerbated, manufacturing and construction sectors were deficient, and the industrial development was absent. In an address to the nation in 1987, President Felix said, “We have been denouncing for many years the deterioration of the terms of trade; but as long as we are not able to process all or part of our raw materials into manufactured or semi-manufactured products, we will be wasting our time denouncing the situation.”
Much of the country lies within tsetse-infested areas, and cattle are therefore concentrated in the more northerly districts. In 2004 there were an estimated 1,460,000 head of cows (compared with 383,000 in 1968), 1,192,000 goats, 1,523,000 sheep, and 342,700 hogs. There are 33 million chickens; 31,214 tons of eggs were produced in 2004. Milk production is small and there are no processing facilities so the milk is consumed fresh; production in 2004 was 25,912 tons.
In 2005, meat productions included (in pounds): beef, 52,200; poultry, 69,300; pork, 11,760; and sheep and goat, 9,429. Nomadic production accounts for around half of cattle herds and is mainly undertaken by non-Ivoirian herders. Settled herders are concentrated in the dry north, mainly in Korhogo, Ferkessedougou, Bouna, Boundiali, Odienne, and Dabakala. Sheep and goat rearing is a secondary activity for many herders. Pork production is periodically affected by African swine fever; potential increases are limited by the fact that Muslims (who do not eat pork, which they consider to be unclean) account for 40 percent of the population.
Fishing In 1964 a modern fishing wharf was opened at Abidjan, which is Africa's largest tuna fishing port, handling about 100,000 tons of tuna each year. There are fish hatcheries in Bouaké, Bamoro, and Korhogo. Commercial fishing for tuna is carried on in the Gulf of Guinea; sardines are also caught in quantity. The total catch was 71,841 tons in 2004, with commercial fishing accounting for 25 percent; artisanal fishing, 74 percent; and aquaculture, 1 percent.
There are three types of forest in Ivory Coast: rain forest, deciduous forest, and the secondary forest of the savanna region. Total forest area in 2000 was 7,117,000 hectares; the natural rain forest constitutes the main forest area, as only 184,000 hectares (455,000 acres) are planted forests. In 1983, the government acknowledged that the nation's forest area, which totalled approximately 16 million hectares at independence in 1960, had dwindled to about 4 million hectares. However, the deforestation rate still averaged 3.1 percent during 1990–2000. The lingering political instability since the outbreak of hostilities in 2002 has contributed to illegal logging and increased deforestation.
The forested area is divided into two zones, the Permanent Domain (PD) and the Rural Domain (RD). The PD consists of classified forests, national parks, and forest areas. This includes major forested areas made up of 231 classified forest areas, 9 national parks and 3 forest reserves, 7 semi-classified forests, and 51 unclassified forests. The total area of the national parks and reserves is 1,959,203 hectares. Forest exploitation activities are prohibited in the classified forest areas, which cover an estimated 4,196,000 hectares. However, for maintenance purposes, limited logging is permitted occasionally in classified forests, which amounted to 148,271 cu m in 2003. These forests are spread throughout the country in three zones: 31.8 percent in the humid dense forest in the south, 30.5 percent in the semi-deciduous forests of central Ivory Coast, and 33.7 percent in the savannah forests in the north. The RD, where logging is permitted, covers 66 percent of the total land area of Ivory Coast. However, the effective area for forestry production is estimated at 2.9 million hectares.
In 2003, forest products accounted for $269 million in export value, providing the third most important source of foreign revenue after cocoa and petroleum products. The major export markets were Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, India, Ireland, Senegal, and Morocco. The total 2003 roundwood harvest was 11,615,000 cu m. Tropical hardwood production primarily consists of logs, 70 percent; lumber, 20 percent; and veneer and plywood, 10 percent. At one time, mahogany was the only wood exploited, but now more than 25 different types of wood are utilized commercially. The major species planted are teak, frake, framire, pine, samba, cedar, gmelina, niangon, and bete. The increasing scarcity of forest resources is adversely impacting value-added industries, leaving lumber and veneer production in a steady state of decline.
Ivory Coast has made progress in diversifying its economy, and since the 1970s, has steadily expanded the facilities offered to tourists. Resort lodgings in coastal areas have been developed. There are numerous hotels in Abidjan, including international chains such as Novotel and Sofitel.
External trade and investment
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays a key role in the Ivorian economy, accounting for between 40% and 45% of total capital in Ivorian firms. France is overwhelmingly the most important foreign investor. In recent years, French investment has accounted for about one-quarter of the total capital in Ivorian enterprises, and between 55% and 60% of the total stock of foreign investment capital.
The following table shows the main economic indicators in 1980–2017.
|GDP in $
|15.38 bil.||20.37 bil.||25.52 bil.||30.32 bil.||39.35 bil.||44.21 bil.||46.25 bil.||48.32 bil.||50.52 bil.||52.56 bil.||54.28 bil.||53.07 bil.||59.51 bil.||66.08 bil.||73.18 bil.||80.51 bil.||88.34 bil.||96.92 bil.|
|GDP per capita in $
(in Percent of GDP)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 17.4% industry: 28.8% services: 53.8% (2017 est.)
Labor force: 8.747 million (60% agricultural) (2017 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9.4% (2013 est.)
Population below poverty line: 46.3% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.2% highest 10%: 31.8% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 41.5 (2008)
Investment (gross fixed): 8.7% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget: revenues: $7.121 billion, expenditures: $8.886 billion (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products: coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
Industries: foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, gold mining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity
Industrial production growth rate: 7% (2017 est.)
Electricity - production: 8.262 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 5.669 billion kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - exports: 872 million kWh (2015 est.)
Electricity - imports: 23 million kWh (2015 est.)
Oil - production: 30,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
Oil - consumption: 20,000 bbl/d (3,200 m3/d) (2003 est.)
Oil - exports: 34,720 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Oil - imports: 65,540 bbl/day (2014 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 100 million bbl (1 January 2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2013 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 28.32 billion cu m (1 January 2017 est.)
Current account balance: $-$490 million (2017 est.)
Exports: $11.08 billion (2017 est.)
Exports - commodities: cocoa, coffee, timber, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, fish
Exports - partners: Netherlands 11.8%, US 7.9%, France 6.4%, Belgium 6.4%, Germany 5.8%, Burkina Faso 4.5%, India 4.4%, Mali 4.2% (2017)
Imports: $8.789 billion (2017 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuel, capital equipment, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: Nigeria 15%, France 13.4%, China 11.3%, US 4.3% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $4.688 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
Debt - external: $12.38 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $1 billion (1996 est.)
Currency (code): Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 594.3 (2017 est.) 593.01 (2016 est.) 593.01 (2015 est.) 591.45 (2014 est.) 494.42 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year: calendar year
- Agriculture in Ivory Coast
- Pineapple production in Ivory Coast
- Transport in Ivory Coast
- Politics of Ivory Coast
- Departments of Ivory Coast
- Geography of Ivory Coast
- Demographics of Ivory Coast
- Economy of Africa
- Child labor in cocoa production
- United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
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- Economy of Ivory Coast at Curlie
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- West African Agricultural Market Observer/Observatoire du Marché Agricole (RESIMAO), a project of the West-African Market Information Network (WAMIS-NET), provides live market and commodity prices from fifty seven regional and local public agricultural markets across Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Togo, and Nigeria. Sixty commodities are tracked weekly. The project is run by the Benin Ministry of Agriculture, and a number of European, African, and United Nations agencies.