Côte d’Ivoire is determined to leave the past behind and to build solidly on the future. One of its priorities is to revamp the ICT sector, currently one of the country’s most important economic contributors, and to stimulate further growth and attract foreign investment.
Little under three years ago, the Ivoirian news was dominated by bouts of post-election violence. The events had a negative impact on the economy and as a result, by the time 2011 drew to a close, the country’s national gross domestic product (GDP) had shrunk by 4.5 per cent compared to the previous year.
Côte d’Ivoire, however, bounced back quickly and firmly, surprising the world with an annual growth rate of 9.8 per cent for the year 2012. Similar year-on-year achievements are expected for 2013 and the current year, making it one of the fastest growing countries in the world.
Determined to keep the momentum going, the Ivoirian authorities have developed several strategies. One of them is an ambitious campaign to take the country’s ICT sector to the next level and to expand the digital economy.
Côte d’Ivoire’s ICT industry is currently valued at 6-7 per cent of national GDP. This makes it the second biggest contributor to the economy after the cultivation of coffee, cocoa and other agricultural products.
|“The costs of ICT in Côte d’Ivoire are the lowest in the western African region” |
Bruno Nabagné Koné,
Minister of Post and ICT
Over the past few years, internet access and capacity have improved significantly, among other things, due to the fact that Côte d’Ivoire is now served by three international internet cables. Better 3G technology and penetration as well as ever-decreasing prices have played a significant role too.
“The costs of ICT in Côte d’Ivoire are the lowest in the western African region,” said Bruno Nabagné Koné, Ivoirian Minister of Post and ICT, during the presentation of the ICT development campaign in September last year.
The new ICT plans revolve around key priorities that include expanding the number of fixed internet lines in urban and rural areas, as well as boosting the national fibre-optic network to 7,000km in the medium term.
The initiative furthermore aims to promote e-commerce and give entrepreneurs and small businesses the necessary tools to exploit the internet to attract more customers. Last but not least, thousands of cyber centres are in the pipeline, predominantly in rural areas. Slightly under half of Côte d’Ivoire’s population of 22 million people lives outside the cities and towns.
The overarching goal of the campaign is to sustain and further stimulate economic growth and to make Côte d’Ivoire an attractive investment destination, says the Director General of La Poste, Mamadou Konaté. The Ivoirian postal services have played a crucial role in rolling out some of the ICT development plans.
“Investors, including investors from the UK, will gain when coming to Côte d’Ivoire. There is a lot of potential in all fields, including mining, agriculture and ICT,” he explains. “The country has just rebooted and it will be good for investors to take their place here.”