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One of the world's fastest growing countries

Article - February 14, 2014
The government aims to provide private firms, in particular SMEs, with the cash flow they need in order to further drive more widespread growth
Côte d’Ivoire is currently one of the most attractive investment destinations in western Africa and the world. The post-election violence that struck Côte d’Ivoire in 2011, which severely impacted the country’s economy and investment climate, seems to have been confined to the history books: at the moment, the world’s largest cocoa producer and exporter has one of the highest economic growths globally.
Minister of Commerce Jean-Louis Billon says that his country’s achievements of the past two years have been driven by a variety of factors. One of them is the decision by the government not to put all its eggs into one basket, for instance in terms of trading partners. 
“As an export-oriented nation, we not only export raw materials to Europe, the United States and Asia, but also to other African countries,” Mr Billon says. “This makes Côte d’Ivoire a very important regional industrial hub.”
Secondly, Côte d’Ivoire has made great strides in adding diversity to its economic landscape. While cocoa undoubtedly remains a key player, other agricultural products including rubber, palm oil, coffee and nuts have become increasingly important. 
“Cocoa, for a long time, was our most important product. And it still is. Our cocoa exports constitute 40 per cent of global exports. While it remains our flagship export product, the role of cocoa is declining because other products are on the rise. Palm oil and rubber for instance,” says the minister.

“Côte d’Ivoire will once again serve as the economic crossroads of West Africa”

Jean-Louis Billon,
Minister of Commerce
Then there are the mining sector and oil industry. “Côte d’Ivoire has not exploited its mineral wealth up until quite recently. President Houphouët-Boigny in the 1960s wanted us to work the land first, and build our economic success on agriculture. He said that for an economy to be and remain sustainable, it should preserve its wealth for future generations,” Mr Billon says, explaining that focusing on agriculture in the 1960s was sufficient to keep Côte d’Ivoire going. This has changed, among other things, due to population growth.

 “We had a population of less than 4 million in 1960, and today we have around 22 million people,” he says. “It is therefore time to open and explore new avenues to remain economically sustainable.”
This situation makes Côte d’Ivoire an interesting investment location, the minister stresses, including for investors from the UK. “We are just as important as the other markets in the region, such as Ghana and Nigeria, and there is no real language barrier anymore,” he says, pointing at his country’s Francophone background. “We love English brands.”
Another element that makes Côte d’Ivoire an attractive bet for the international investment community is the national government’s pledge to guarantee and safeguard peace, security and stability in the future. “Economic growth, peace and security go hand in hand,” Mr Billon says. “We realise very well that there can’t be economic growth without security, and there cannot be security without economic growth.”