Côte d’Ivoire is divided into nineteen regions: Agneby, Bafing, Bas-Sassandra, Denguele, Dix-Huit Montagnes, Fromager, Haut-Sassandra, Lacs, Lagunes, Marahoue, Moyen-Cavally, Moyen-Comoe, N’zi-Comoe, Savanes, Sud-Bandama, Sud-Comoe, Vallee du Bandama, Worodougou and Zanzan. The regions are further divided into 81 departments.

The official capital of Côte d’Ivoire is Yamoussoukro (295,500), despite the fact that it is the fourth most populous city. Abidjan, with a population of 3,310,500, is the largest city and serves as the commercial and banking center of Côte d’Ivoire as well as the de facto capital. It is also the most populous city in French-speaking Western Africa. Most countries maintain their embassies in Abidjan, although some (including the United Kingdom) have closed their missions because of the continuing violence and attacks on Europeans. The Ivoirian population continues to suffer because of an ongoing civil war. International human rights organizations have noted problems with the treatment of captive non-combatants by both sides and the re-emergence of child slavery among workers in cocoa production.

Although most of the fighting ended by late 2004, the country remained split in two, with the north controlled by the New Forces (FN). A new presidential election was expected to be held in October 2005. The election has been postponed multiple times due to delays in its preparation. Although an agreement was reached among the rival parties in March 2007, the presidential election still remains to be held. Despite the presence of over 9,000 UN forces (UNOCI) in Côte d’Ivoire since 2004, ethnic conflict still leaves displaced hundreds of thousands of Ivorians in and out of the country as well as driven-out migrants from neighboring states who worked in Ivorian cocoa plantations. The March 2007 peace deal between Ivorian rebels and the government brought significant numbers of rebels out of hiding in neighboring states.

  • National Holiday: 7 August (1960)
  • Weather: tropical along coast, semiarid in far north; three seasons – warm and dry (November to March), hot and dry (March to May), hot and wet (June to October).

Economy

Côte d’Ivoire is the most developed country in francophone West Africa, but there is a strong north/south imbalance. Economic activity is concentrated in the south. UNDP ranked the country 163 out of 177 on the Human Development Index in 2005. Poverty is a growing problem and social services have deteriorated. AIDS is estimated to affect 7% of the population, one of the highest in West Africa.

Côte d’Ivoire’s economy is based on the export of cash crops. It is the largest producer of cocoa in the world, producing 40% of global supply, and the fifth largest producer of robusta coffee. It is estimated that 650,000 farmers work solely in the cocoa sector, which represents 40% of GDP and 60% of export revenues. The economy has expanded into agro-industry and the manufacture of consumer goods for domestic and regional markets. Given recent difficulties at management level, related to embezzlement in the coffee and cocoa sector, some producers turned to other export products, such as rubber and palm oil.

The primary sector was also driven by mining, up by 3% in 2008 after an 18.7% drop in 2007. Extraction of mineral reserves remains below its full potential, however, due to difficulties in managing, funding and rehabilitating cottage-type and semi-industrial extraction sites. Real growth in construction was very strong in 2008 (9.3%), as in 2007 (9.8%), owing in particular to the resumption of housing construction under the stimulus of strong demand, especially in Abidjan.

  • Industries: foodstuffs, beverages, wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity, ship construction and repair
  • Export: cocoa, coffee, timber, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, fish
  • Electricity export: 772 million kWh (2007 est.)
  • Oil Export: 115,700 bbl/day (2007 est.)
  • Export Partners: Germany 10.9%, US 10.1%, Netherlands 9.7%, Nigeria 9.3%, France 6.4%, Burkina Faso 4% (2008)
  • Import Commodities: fuel, capital equipment, foodstuffs
  • Import Partners: Nigeria 31.5%, France 14.9%, China 7.2% (2008)

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest producer and exporter of cocoa beans and a significant producer and exporter of coffee and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products, and, to a lesser extent, in climatic conditions. Despite government attempts to diversify the economy, it is still heavily dependent on agriculture and related activities, engaging roughly 68% of the population.

Since 2006, oil and gas production have become more important engines of economic activity than cocoa. According to IMF statistics, earnings from oil and refined products were $1.3 billion in 2006, while cocoa-related revenues were $1 billion during the same period. Côte d’Ivoire’s offshore oil and gas production has resulted in substantial crude oil exports and provides sufficient natural gas to fuel electricity exports to Ghana, Togo, Benin, Mali and Burkina Faso. Oil exploration by a number of consortiums of private companies continues offshore, and President GBAGBO has expressed hope that daily crude output could reach 200,000 barrels per day (b/d) by the end of the decade.

Since the end of the civil war in 2003, political turmoil has continued to damage the economy, resulting in the loss of foreign investment and slow economic growth. GDP grew by nearly 2% in 2007 and 3% in 2008. Per capita income has declined by 15% since 1999.

Macroeconomic Policy

The government continued implementation of the economic and structural reform programme over the 2007-08 period. The programme aims to re-establish macroeconomic stability and accelerate structural reforms in key sectors such as energy and coffee/cocoa. This government programme has been supported thus far by two post-conflict assistance programmes (PCAP) of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Implementation of the first PCAP, satisfactory on the whole, improved the macroeconomic framework and led to approval of a second IMF programme (PCAP-II) in April 2008. Reforms implemented in 2008 included: i) quarterly publication of budget implementation; ii) improved transparency in the energy and coffee/cocoa sectors; iii) improved management of public expenditure; and iv) maintenance of a slight surplus of the basic primary balance. Signature of a three-year Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility agreement with the IMF covering the 2009-11 period is expected for the first quarter of 2009.

Since 2007, the government has adopted a cautious fiscal policy aimed at recreating the climate of confidence necessary for a long-term recovery of the private sector. Government efforts, coupled with the country’s membership of the Franc Zone, have helped keep inflationary pressures at bay. In 2007, inflation settled to an average 1.9 %, thanks to controls over non-food prices (transport and housing, which dropped 0.4% and 0.7% respectively). In 2008, however, given the world food crisis, the prices of rice, milk, oil and other food products rose significantly.

Côte d’Ivoire signed a temporary economic partnership agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU) in November 2008. The main purpose of this agreement is to preserve existing trade preferences between the EU and Côte d’Ivoire, in the period leading up to signature of the regional EPA currently under negotiation with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). The negotiations should draw to a close by July 2009.

  • Central bank discount rate:
    4.75% (31 December 2008)
    4.25% (31 December 2007)
  • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
    6.3% (2008 est.)
    1.9% (2007 est.)
  • Exchange rate: Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar – 447.81 (2008 est.), 481.83 (2007), 522.89 (2006), 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004)

*Note: Since 1 January 1999, the West African CFA franc (XOF) has been pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA francs per euro; West African CFA franc (XOF) coins and banknotes are not accepted in countries using Central African CFA francs (XAF), and vice versa, even though the two currencies trade at par.

Import regulations by Ivory Coast customs:

  • Tobacco: 200 Cigarettes or 100 Cigarillos or 25 Cigars or 250 grams of Tobacco
  • Alcohol: 1 bottle of wine, 1 bottle of spirits
  • Perfume: 205ml
  • Toilet water: 500ml
  • Gifts: reasonable amount

Telephone system

General assessment: well-developed by African standards. The telecommunications sector privatized in the late 1990s and operational fixed-lines have more than quadrupled since that time. With multiple cellular service providers competing in the market, cellular usage has increased sharply to roughly 55 per 100 persons.

  • Domestic: open-wire lines and microwave radio relay; 90% digitalized
  • International: country code – 225; landing point for the SAT-3/WASC fiber-optic submarine cable that provides connectivity to Europe and Asia; satellite earth stations – 2 Intelsat (1 Atlantic Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean) (2008)
  • Airport: 28 in total, 7 with paved runways, 21 with unpaved runways

Media

Radio is Ivory Coast’s most popular medium. There is a tier of low-power, non-commercial community radio stations, including some run by the Catholic Church.

There are no private terrestrial TV stations, although pay-TV services are provided by Canal Satellite Horizons.

The press:

  • Fraternité Matin – state-owned daily
  • Notre Voie – daily, owned by ruling party
  • Le Patriote – opposition daily
  • Soir Info – private daily
  • Le Nouveau Reveil – private daily
  • Le Jour – private daily
  • 24 Heures – private daily
  • Le Front – private daily
  • L’Inter – private daily

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by Chaoyi Hu

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