Economy & Industry
Chocolate is key
The economy of Ivory Coast is dominated by agriculture, in particular the growing of cocoa beans, the country’s largest export.
Ivory Coast supplies more than a third of the world’s cocoa and its exports for the global chocolate market were worth around 2.5 billion dollars in 2010 (according to the UN's Food & Agriculture Organisation).
New trees needed
Yields of cocoa trees drop after 30 years and the last major cycle of planting was in the 1970s. Some new trees have been planted (with funding from large food companies), but they represent a small proportion of output.
However, revenues from cocoa production are threatened by regular blights such as black pod disease. Small farmers are unable to afford the regular spraying which would protect their cocoa crops. The industry also suffers from under-investment.
Local investment is hampered by high taxes on farmers, with around 40% of the money paid by commodity buyers going to the government. Since most cocoa producers are small-scale, this has led some farmers to rely on child labour to make a living.
Oil and natural resources
Oil and natural gas production are a growing sector of the economy. A major refinery at Abidjan processes crude oil from off-shore rigs. Some petroleum is used locally and the rest is refined into oil products for export.
Ivory Coast has mineral resources, including diamonds and gold. Deposits of iron ore, bauxite and manganese are there to be developed.
Manufacturing is mainly limited to the refining and processing of agricultural produce (e.g. palm oil, coconut-oil, sugar) or the canning of fruits such as pineapples.
State of the economy and industry
After independence in 1960, Ivory Coast enjoyed decades of stable government and became the wealthiest country in West Africa, boasting the fourth-largest economy south of the Sahara.
Many state-owned companies, including electricity and water utilities were privatised over the last two decades. But with political divisions and coups, the economy slumped during the 1990s. It suffered further during the civil war of 2002 and the recent violence following elections in 2010.
However, peace and stability in the last few years have allowed the economy to flourish, with growth in the oil, transportation and banking sectors in particular.
With good infrastructure and the major port and refinery at Abidjan, Ivory Coast has the natural resources for future economic success.