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Côte d’IvoireWest Africa

Investment Opportunities in Côte d’Ivoire; From Agriculture to Mining

Story Highlights

  • Investment opportunities in Ivory Coast
  • Investment Opportunities in the Mining Sector
  • Ease of doing Business
  • Risk
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Côte d’Ivoire adopted a new investment code in August 2018 which made investing and investment opportunities more transparent and attractive. It includes investment dispute settlement mechanisms and the promotion of socially responsible and sustainable investment.

Agriculture is the main pillar of Côte d’Ivoire’s economy which contributes about 16% to GDP and makes up 40% of exports. Côte d’Ivoire is among the top global producers of cocoa beans, cashew nuts and coffee.

Investment Opportunities Côte d’Ivoire

There are many investment opportunities in the agricultural sector in Côte d’Ivoire as the country still imports most of its needs.

The livestock industry does not meet local demand, so animals are imported, particularly from Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso. In the dairy industry, most operators are informal players and not organised, so demand is met through imports. France has traditionally been the source of imports, but the country is also looking for regional suppliers.

Other investment opportunities in Côte d’Ivoire include the production of fruit and flowers. Ivory Coast’s climate is favorable for the cultivation of flowers, vegetables and fruit. But the quality of the products is often insufficient for export because the country lacks the skill and technical know-how in the production of fruit and flowers.

There is a lot of work to do for Dutch experts in the entire chain, from seed breeding, soil analysis and fertilization to management, logistics and refrigeration technology.

Also investment opportunities in the fishing industry is numerous, Cote d’Ivoire has a vibrant market for fish, with total production estimated at around 90 000 tonnes of fish annually. This figure is combined with the 260 000 tonnes imported each year from countries like China and Senegal, illustrating the strong demand for fish and fish products domestically. Fish consumption in Côte d’Ivoire averages 15 kg per capita.

The palm oil industry in the country is also filled with lots of investment opportunities.

The demand for the lucrative palm oil across the world is increasing and land in the main exporting countries of Malaysia and Indonesia is quickly running out.

So companies are now looking to West Africa where the soil and weather is favourable to grow the cash crop.

The palm oil sector, according to the latest statistics, brings 500 billion CFA francs to the Ivorian economy.

The government wants processed goods to represent 50% of the country’s economy, up from 25% now. This is a great opportunity for entrepreneurs.

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Regulatory Bodies

There are regulatory bodies for the bigger crops such as cocoa, coffee, cashew and cotton. They support farmers through co-operatives to improve productivity and the quality of production, help to maintain fair pricing for producers each season and ensure that exporters comply with export guidelines.

Most growing is done by co-operatives, although there are also big investors such as Olam, Barry Callebaut, Nestlé and Cargill. Foreign investors can own land only if they enter into a bilateral agreement with landowners – the government doesn’t own the land. But they need to work with the cooperatives who work the land. A foreign company cannot own the whole value chain.

Investment Opportunities in the Mining Sector

The mining code in Côte d’Ivoire was reformed in 2014 making it more investor friendly.

The mining sector in Côte d’Ivoire is filled with investment opportunities and the government is encouraging investment in the industry to make it the next biggest sector after agriculture. Although investors need to give the government 30% ownership in mining ventures, there are no other restrictions.

The government offers guidance, making sure the mining and labour codes are followed but there are no local content regulations and expatriates are welcome. The state-owned mining company SODEMI is responsible for engaging with investors.

The oil and gas sector is also developing and the government has entered into joint ventures with international companies through the national oil company, PETROCI. The country has access to the same reserves that have already been exploited by Ghana and there is a wide scope of investment opportunities both onshore and offshore that international companies are already active in.

Industrial development zones are also attracting lots of investment opportunities. The main zones are around the ports. Côte d’Ivoire has two ports – Abidjan in the east, which processes 85% of trade, and the fast-growing Port of San-Pedro in the south west, which is addressing congestion problems in Abidjan and boosting development in this part of the country.

San-Pedro is also becoming the main trade port for landlocked countries to the north and for the export of manganese and other minerals in the area.

There is another industrial zone about 20km outside Abidjan, a 940-ha economic zone called PK 24, that is attracting investment opportunities because of space issues in the Abidjan zone. Investors include cement producers from Morocco, Nigeria, Togo and Burkina Faso.

There is also a free zone near Abidjan where pharmaceutical manufacturers are located, mostly producing basic medications, as well as services businesses.

Power is readily available with 95% of needs covered by the national grid. There has also been private investment in the sector by companies such as GE and Azito Energie and there are many opportunities for energy investment, particularly in the industrial zones.

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Ease of doing Business

Côte d’Ivoire has simplified the process of registering a company. It now takes just 24 hours, although the process for larger companies requires more steps and may take longer. This has helped the country to improve its rankings on the World Bank Doing Business Index from 122 in 2019 to 110 in 2020.

Risk

Political risk is mostly an issue around elections and there was some trouble during the 2020 election but that has died down. The government is working on settling political issues to restore confidence in the country.

A possible risk in time could be with the currency and possible depreciation because of the drive by ECOWAS, the regional bloc, to introduce a common currency. The CFA franc is pegged to the euro as a result of the historical link with France.

This has provided stability for investors but the issue of a common currency for the whole region, including Nigeria and Ghana, is still on the table. However, this is a slow-moving process and unlikely to happen any time soon as the region is not ready for the currency convergence this requires.

Foreign exchange repatriation and availability is not a risk because this process is very well regulated by the central bank. All proceeds in and out of the country must go through the bank, which also monitors exports. It is important for investors to follow the processes and to get the right advice on entering the country.

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