The economy of Ivory Coast is stable and currently growing, in the aftermath of political instability in recent decades. The Ivory Coast is largely market-based and depends heavily on the agricultural sector. Almost 70% of the Ivorian people are engaged in some form of agricultural activity. GDP per capita grew 82% in the 1960s, reaching a peak growth of 360% in the 1970s. But this proved unsustainable and it shrank by 28% in the 1980s and a further 22% in the 1990s. This coupled with high population growth resulted in a steady fall in living standards. Gross national product per capita, now rising again, was about US$727 in 1996. (It was substantially higher two decades ago.) After several years of lagging performance, the Ivorian economy began a comeback in 1994, due to the devaluation of the CFA franc and improved prices for cocoa and coffee, growth in non-traditional primary exports such as pineapples and rubber, limited trade and banking liberalization, offshore oil and gas discoveries, and generous external financing and debt rescheduling by multilateral lenders and France. The 50% devaluation of franc zone currencies on 12 January 1994 caused a one-time jump in the inflation rate to 26% in 1994, but the rate fell sharply in 1996-1999. Moreover, government adherence to donor-mandated reforms led to a jump in growth to 5% annually in 1996-99. A majority of the population remains dependent on smallholder cash crop production. Principal exports are cocoa, coffee, and tropical woods.
By developing-country standards, Ivory Coast has an outstanding infrastructure. There is a network of more than 13,000 kilometres (8,000 mi) of paved roads; modern telecommunications services, including a public data communications network; cellular phones and Internet access; two active ports, one of which, Abidjan, is the most modern in West Africa; rail links-in the process of being upgraded-both within the country and to Burkina Faso; regular air service within the region and to and from Europe; and real estate developments for commercial, industrial, retail, and residential use. Ivory Coast's location and connections to neighboring countries makes it a preferred platform from which Europeans conduct West African business operations. The city of Abidjan is one of the most modern and liveable cities in the region for wealthy French expatriates. Its school system is highly regarded and includes an excellent international school based on a U.S. curriculum and several excellent French-based schools.
Ivory Coast has stepped up public investment programs after the stagnation of the pre-devaluation era. The government's public investment plan accords priority to investment in human capital, but it also will provide for significant spending on economic infrastructure needed to sustain growth. Continued infrastructure development is also expected to occur because of private sector activity.
In the new environment of government disengagement from productive activities and in the wake of recent privatizations, anticipated investments in the petroleum, electricity, water, and telecommunications sectors, and in part of the transport sector, will be financed without any direct government intervention.
Mean wages were $1.05 per man-hour in 2009.
Ivory Coast is among the world's largest producers and exporters of coffee, cocoa beans, and palm oil. Consequently, the economy is highly sensitive to fluctuations in international prices for these products and to weather conditions. Despite attempts by the government to diversify the economy, it is still largely dependent on agriculture and related activities. Forced labor by children bought and sold as slaves is endemic in cacao production.
Much of the country lies within tsetse-infested areas, and cattle are therefore concentrated in the more northerly districts. In 2004 there were an estimated 1,460,000 head of cows (compared with 383,000 in 1968), 1,192,000 goats, 1,523,000 sheep, and 342,700 hogs. There are 33 million chickens; 31,214 tons of eggs were produced in 2004. Milk production is small and there are no processing facilities so the milk is consumed fresh; production in 2004 was 25,912 tons.
In 2004, meat productions included (in tons): beef, 52,200; poultry, 69,300; pork, 11,760; and sheep and goat, 9,429. Nomadic production accounts for around half of cattle herds and is mainly undertaken by non-Ivoirian herders. Settled herders are concentrated in the dry north, mainly in Korhogo, Ferkessedougou, Bouna, Boundiali, Odienne, and Dabakala. Sheep and goat rearing is a secondary activity for many herders. Pork production is periodically affected by African swine fever; potential increases are limited by the fact that Muslims (who do not eat pork, which they consider to be unclean) account for 40 percent of the population.
Fishing In 1964 a modern fishing wharf was opened at Abidjan, which is Africa’s largest tuna fishing port, handling about 100,000 tons of tuna each year. There are fish hatcheries in Bouaké, Bamoro, and Korhogo. Commercial fishing for tuna is carried on in the Gulf of Guinea; sardines are also caught in quantity. The total catch was 71,841 tons in 2004, with commercial fishing accounting for 25 percent; artisanal fishing, 74 percent; and aquaculture, 1 percent.
There are three types of forest in Ivory Coast: rain forest, deciduous forest, and the secondary forest of the savanna region. Total forest area in 2000 was 7,117,000 hectares; the natural rain forest constitutes the main forest area, as only 184,000 hectares (455,000 acres) are planted forests. In 1983, the government acknowledged that the nation’s forest area, which totalled approximately 16 million hectares at independence in 1960, had dwindled to about 4 million hectares. However, the deforestation rate still averaged 3.1 percent during 1990–2000. The lingering political instability since the outbreak of hostilities in 2002 has contributed to illegal logging and increased deforestation.
The forested area is divided into two zones, the Permanent Domain (PD) and the Rural Domain (RD). The PD consists of classified forests, national parks, and forest areas. This includes major forested areas made up of 231 classified forest areas, 9 national parks and 3 forest reserves, 7 semi-classified forests, and 51 unclassified forests. The total area of the national parks and reserves is 1,959,203 hectares. Forest exploitation activities are prohibited in the classified forest areas, which cover an estimated 4,196,000 hectares. However, for maintenance purposes, limited logging is permitted occasionally in classified forests, which amounted to 148,271 cu m in 2003. These forests are spread throughout the country in three zones: 31.8 percent in the humid dense forest in the south, 30.5 percent in the semi-deciduous forests of central Ivory Coast, and 33.7 percent in the savannah forests in the north. The RD, where logging is permitted, covers 66 percent of the total land area of Ivory Coast. However, the effective area for forestry production is estimated at 2.9 million hectares.
In 2003, forest products accounted for $269 million in export value, providing the third most important source of foreign revenue after cocoa and petroleum products. The major export markets were Italy, Spain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, India, Ireland, Senegal, and Morocco. The total 2003 roundwood harvest was 11,615,000 cu m. Tropical hardwood production primarily consists of logs, 70 percent; lumber, 20 percent; and veneer and plywood, 10 percent. At one time, mahogany was the only wood exploited, but now more than 25 different types of wood are utilized commercially. The major species planted are teak, frake, framire, pine, samba, cedar, gmelina, niangon, and bete. The increasing scarcity of forest resources is adversely impacting value-added industries, leaving lumber and veneer production in a steady state of decline.
Ivory Coast has made progress in diversifying its economy, and since the 1970s, has steadily expanded the facilities offered to tourists. Resort lodgings in coastal areas have been developed. There are numerous hotels in Abidjan, including international chains such as Novotel and Sofitel.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) plays a key role in the Ivorian economy, accounting for between 40% and 45% of total capital in Ivorian firms. France is overwhelmingly the most important foreign investor. In recent years, French investment has accounted for about one-quarter of the total capital in Ivorian enterprises, and between 55% and 60% of the total stock of foreign investment capital.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $28.52 billion (2005 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $16.56 billion (2006 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 1% (2005 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,600 (2005 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 27.7% industry: 16.7% services: 55.6% (2005 est.)
Labor force: 6.95 million (60% agricultural) (2008 est.)
Unemployment rate: 9% in urban areas (2008)
Population below poverty line: 26% (2009)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 4% highest 10%: 25.5% (2008)
Distribution of family income - Gini index: 45.2 (1998)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 2% (2005 est.)
Investment (gross fixed): 8.7% of GDP (2005 est.)
Budget: revenues: $2.434 billion expenditures: $2.83 billion; including capital expenditures of $420 million (2005 est.)
Public debt: 70.4% of GDP (2005 est.)
Agriculture - products: coffee, cocoa beans, bananas, palm kernels, corn, rice, manioc (tapioca), sweet potatoes, sugar, cotton, rubber; timber
Industries: foodstuffs, beverages; wood products, oil refining, truck and bus assembly, textiles, fertilizer, building materials, electricity, ship construction and repair
Industrial production growth rate: 15% (1998 est.)
Electricity - production: 5.127 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - consumption: 3.418 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - exports: 1.35 billion kWh (2003)
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2003)
Oil - production: 32,900 bbl/d (5,230 m3/d) (2005 est.)
Oil - consumption: 20,000 bbl/d (3,200 m3/d) (2003 est.)
Oil - exports: NA bbl/d
Oil - imports: NA bbl/d
Oil - proved reserves: 220,000,000 bbl (35,000,000 m3) (2005 est.)
Natural gas - production: 1.3 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 1.3 billion cu m (2003 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 0 cu m (2001 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 29.73 billion cu m (2005)
Current account balance: $-289 million (2005 est.)
Exports: $6.49 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Exports - commodities: cocoa, coffee, timber, petroleum, cotton, bananas, pineapples, palm oil, fish
Exports - partners: France 23.7%, Netherlands 10.8%, US 10.2%, Nigeria 7.5%, Italy 4.8% (2004)
Imports: $4.759 billion f.o.b. (2005 est.)
Imports - commodities: fuel, capital equipment, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: France 32.7%, Nigeria 20.3%, Thailand 2.8% (2004)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $1.95 billion (2005 est.)
Debt - external: $13.26 billion (2005 est.)
Economic aid - recipient: ODA, $1 billion (1996 est.)
Currency (code): Communaute Financiere Africaine franc (XOF); note - responsible authority is the Central Bank of the West African States
Exchange rates: Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (XOF) per US dollar - 527.47 (2005), 528.29 (2004), 581.2 (2003), 696.99 (2002), 733.04 (2001)
Fiscal year: calendar year