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Ivory Coast seeks top investment destination status for West Africa [Focus]

Ivory Coast seeks top investment destination status for West Africa [Focus]

Focus Africa

Ivory coast is witnessing impressive growth, with a GDP rate of eight percent last year according to the World Bank. Now, the world’s biggest exporter of cocoa beans wants to diversify.

The government hopes it can perform an economic makeover and finally put an end to the violence and political turbulence that has dominated it since 2002.

A National Development Plan (NDP) 2016- 2020 has been set to lay the foundations for an emerging economy and boost business in the upcoming years. We met the prime minister who explained his economic vision.

“This 2016-2020 plan is valued at 60 billion dollars, our goal is to fund this plan by 40 percent from the public sector, to support all infrastructure-related activities, and about 60 percent from the private sector. And we also have a strong investment in human capital, supporting education, professional training and the healthcare sector,” said Amadou Gon Coulibaly, Prime Minister of Ivory Coast.

More than 60 percent of the population is under 35 years old and with this in mind the government says it will boost the education sector as well as elevate women’s status in society.

If it is going to attract foreign investment, Ivory Coast must boost the skills that young people entering the jobs market possess. Meanwhile the government has promised to cut business taxes.

“We have an investment code, that is one of the most attractive laws, it includes an important exemption in terms of tariff reduction but also the exemption on VAT. But we will ask investors both foreign and locals to return. Creating jobs should be considered as important part of the investment,” the prime minister added.

The Ivory Coast is one of the best bets in Africa with a diverse sector for investment such as banking, telecommunications, energy, real estate, mining and big opportunities in agriculture.

Ivory coast investment promotion centre (CEPICI) is essential to help in matching opportunities with potential investors and providing useful connections.

The first step of the new investor when he arrives in the country is to seek information. (The Ivory coast investment promotion center) CEPICI was created precisely to act as a single interlocutor for this quest, so it is a one-stop shop.

At CEPICI, you will get the information, you will have the assistance; you can create your business in one day, so it is this one-stop shop, that allows investors to not waste time, says Emmanuel Essis, CEO , Ivory coast investment promotion center (CEPICI).

“The Ivory Coast has the advantage of having a diverse community for investment, which starts from agriculture to services; In Ivory Coast there is the agricultural raw material, the first opportunity is agro-industry, industrial processing,” Emmanuel Essis said.

Ivory Coast is ranked as the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, a record crop of about 1.9 million tonnes, it is one of the most promising industries in the Ivory Coast.

CEMOI, a french chocolate producer and one of first investors in 1997 established itself in Abidjan and then in 2015 invested six million euros in a chocolate factory which produces chocolate hundred percent “Made in Ivory Coast”.

“The activity here makes it possible to process 70,000 tons of cocoa. So we receive cocoa with cooperatives and we do all the transformation from the cocoa bean to the finished chocolate,” Benjamin Bessi, General Manager, CEMOI – Ivory Coast.

What is the magic recipe of success for foreign investors?

“The key to success first of all is training. International groups, when they invest here, they look for these types of profiles: well trained Ivorians who have expertise. So we come back to a point of convergence between a national policy of promotion of national executives and the need of international investors who seek local competence,” Benjamin Bessi explains.

For the government, the vision of development is about exporting confidence and trust to the international markets. And they want to send the signal that the ambition is there in Ivory Coast for it to rise far above fifteenth place in the current African economy rankings.

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