For the last decade, Ivory Coast has been one of the fastest-growing and most dynamic economies in sub-Saharan Africa, with an annual growth rate averaging eight percent since 2012. Although its economy took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, the country has managed to maintain a positive growth rate of 1.8% and is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels by 2022.
Its success can be attributed to a number of adroit strategies implemented by the government in the early 2010s, which include large-scale structural fiscal reforms and infrastructure development projects, economic diversification policies to limit reliance on primary exports (e.g. cocoa, cashew, cotton), and the establishment of funds to facilitate credit access to domestic companies. These measures have substantially improved the business environment and helped reassure investors of the country’s standing as a viable investment destination, attracting significant investment for energy and development projects in the process.
Among the most active entities in the country is U.K. Export Finance (UKEF), a governmental export credit agency working alongside the Department for International Trade, which aims to help U.K. companies secure export finance by providing and underwriting long-term loans to appease prospective buyers.
In August, UKEF provided infrastructure project developer NMS Infrastructure with a nearly $280-million loan for the construction of six hospitals, as well as the provision of specialized medical and non-medical equipment produced in the U.K. through an export contract with Ivory Coast’s Ministry of Health and Public Hygiene. With an estimated completion in 2024, the project aims to service about one million people and deliver training and technical support. This is the largest project loan that UKEF has issued in francophone Africa to date
Meanwhile, last June, the World Bank’s Development Association (IDA) allocated $250 million to the Agri-Food Sector Development Project in Ivory Coast, in a bid to create innovative solutions that enhance the sector’s value chains in cassava production and aquaculture, as well as ease the access of new technologies to farmers to improve production capabilities and better respond to market needs. In addition, the project will focus on reducing the sector’s vulnerability to climate change. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) will also lend support to the initiative by encouraging private partnerships and investments that work towards the sector’s development.
Despite sustained economic growth and macroeconomic stability, widespread poverty remains in rural areas in Ivory Coast. Initiatives like the Agri-Food Sector Development Project not only serves to attain long-term food and energy security, but also create jobs and stimulate economic development within local communities.
Moreover, the IFC and other partners, including pan-African industrial group Eranove, the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dutch entrepreneurial development bank FMO, and the OPEC Fund for International Development, signed an agreement in March 2020 to construct a 390 MW natural gas-fired power plant, known as Atinkou “Ciprel V”. The $468-million project will replace a number of the country’s ailing power plants like Vridi and Ciprel I, whic have an installed power generation capacity of 110 MW and 99 MW, respectively.
What’s more, the IFC is involved in the construction project of two solar parks with a capacity of 60 MW each, in the localities of Laboa and Touba in northeast and central Ivory Coast, respectively. The project is part of the World Bank’s Scaling Solar initiative that aims to attract private investment in solar power development projects. The Ivorian Government has launched the pre-qualification for the development and operation of the two solar parks and is expected to select an independent power producer in the coming months.
In regard to developing the country’s hydropower potential, the AfDB, alongside IHE Holding and the German Investment Corporation, have been instrumental in developing the 44 MW “Singrobo” hydroelectric power station located across the Bandama River between Abidjan and Yamoussoukro. The project is financed by the consortium at an estimated cost of $225 million.