Ivory Coast is an independent country found on West Africa’s south coast bordering the Gulf of Guinea. The largest city in the country is Abidjan which is also the economic capital of the country while Yamoussoukro is the political capital. Currently, Ivory Coast has a stable and steadily growing economy after a long period of political instability which affected the country. The country has a market-based economy which is heavily reliant on agriculture, and about 70% of the country's population is engaged in agriculture.
History of Ivory Coast's Economy
In the 1960s, the country's GDP per capita grew by almost 82% and reached its peak in 1970s when the growth was averaging 360%. However, the growth was not sustainable, and in the 1980s it shrank by about 28%, and in 1990s it deepened further by 22%. The situation was made even worse with the increasing growth of population which led to a drastic fall in the standards of living. In 1994, the country's economy showed some signs of recovery after decades of stagnation, and this was the result of the devaluation of the regional currency of CFA Franc coupled with falling prices of commodities such as coffee and cocoa.
Agriculture plays a critical role in the economy of Ivory Coast. The country is the world's leading producer of cocoa, and among the major producers and exporters of palm oil and coffee. These agricultural products make the economy highly susceptible to price fluctuations in the international markets. In the past, the government has tried to diversify the economy, but it has not been successful, and the country is still heavily reliant on agriculture and other agricultural related activities.
The larger part of the country is found within the tsetse fly-infested zone and therefore keeping of cattle is concentrated mostly in the northern districts of the country. In 2004, the country was estimated to have about 1.4 million heads of cows which was an improvement compared to 1968 when the country had a population of 383,000 cows. It was also estimated that the country had a population of 33 million chickens which produced approximately 31,214 tons of eggs in 2004. There are no milk processing facilities in Ivory Coast, and therefore milk is sold and consumed fresh, and similarly, milk production is low. In 2004, the country produced approximately 25,912 tons of milk.
Fishing is one of the major economic activities in Ivory Coast, and the country has the largest tuna fishing port in Africa which handles approximately 100,000 tons of tuna annually. There are numerous hatcheries in Bamoro, Bouake, and Korhogo. Large commercial fishing particularly of tuna if carried out around the Gulf of Guinea and similarly sardines are also harvested in large quantities around the area.
The area under the forest in Ivory Coast is divided into two different domains, the first one is the Permanent Domain (PD) and the second one is the Rural Domain (RD). The permanent domain forest is made up of national parks and other forest reserve areas. The reserves and the national parks in the country cover an area of about 1,959,203 hectares. Logging is allowed in the rural domain which covers about 66% of the total land area in the country. The rate of deforestation in the country stood at about 3.1% between 1990 and 2000. Increased deforestation as a result of illegal logging was carried out during the period of political instability.
In 2003, forest products were the third highest source foreign income generating about $269 million in export revenues. The leading export destination for forest products from Ivory Coast includes Spain, Italy, France, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Ireland, India, Morocco, and Senegal among others. Forest products export from the country was made up of 70% logs, 20% lumber, and 10% plywood and veneer. In the past mahogany was the only type of wood exploited in the country, but currently, there are more than 25 various types of wood which are commercially exploited. The major species of wood harvested in the country include frake, teak, pine, framire, cedar, samba, niangon, gmelina, and bete.
The country has attempted to diversify its economy by promoting tourism and promoting facilities associated with tourism. In the coastal areas of the country, there has been the development of resort lodgings and several hotels, particularly in Abuja. There has been a significant change in tourism which has its roots in the 1970s. In 1997, the country had about 7,786 hotel rooms with 11,374 beds and had an occupancy rate of 70%. Approximately 301,039 tourists arrived in Ivory Coast in 1998 and excess of 73,000 visitors from Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. Some of the major attractions in the country include a photo of safaris, game reserves, and tourist villages among others. The government has removed the visa requirement for a stay of fewer than 91 days, although there is a requirement of vaccination against yellow fever for all visitors in the country.
As of 1986, mining accounted for only 1% of the country's GDP although the country is estimated to hold different minerals and some have not been commercially exploited given the high cost of mining in the country. In the colonial period, gold was mined in small quantities along river beds and streams and was sold along the coastal regions. There were several attempts by the colonial administration to mine gold in Kokoumbo located the central part of the country and several other mines in the southeast part of the country, but all were unprofitable. Similarly, diamonds have been mined in the country since the colonial period, but the last mine was closed and in 1979. Other minerals which have been mined in the country particularly in the past include manganese, bauxite, nickel, copper, cobalt, and tantalite.
Other Important Industries
Other significant industries in Ivory Coast include oil and petroleum, which was discovered in 1977. Presently, most of the country’s gas and oil wells are found in the marine areas, and some are found in the deep offshore sea. In 2015, oil reserves in the country were estimated to be in the tune of 100 million barrels. Manufacturing is another important industry in Ivory Coast which has witnessed significant growth since the country attained its independence 1960's which experienced an average growth of about 13% annually until the 1980s. At independence, manufacturing accounted for about 4% of the GDP, and by 1984 it contributed about 17% to the GDP.
About the Author
Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor.
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