Ivory Coast Economy and History

By | June 6, 2022

Economic conditions

According to Homosociety, the economy of the Ivory Coast d’A. went through a critical period in the early 1990s, but after the devaluation of the CFA franc by 50 % (January 1994) it improved the competitiveness of exports and entered a phase of rather strong growth (in 1997 the GDP increased by 6, 6 %).

The cultivation of coffee remains the main source of income and employs about 2, 5 million people. In 1997 the Ivory Coast d’A. it was still the third largest African producer after Ethiopia and Uganda, but production (1. 650. 000 q) is declining, because about three quarters of the country’s plantations are over the age most profitable. The other important agricultural resource, cocoa, is instead marked by a rising trend in production (11,190. 000q); cultivation has gradually moved from the traditional south-east area to the wetter western regions of the country. For about twenty years now, the Ivory Coastd’A. it has overtaken Ghana, and is the world’s leading cocoa producer and exporter. Since the total export earnings are made up for about half by the sale of these two products (both highly vulnerable to price fluctuations on world markets), the government pursues a policy of diversification in the agricultural field. In sharp increase are the palm oil production (300,000 q of nuts and 2. 650. 000 oil q), cotton (1.420. 000 q of seeds and 1,140,000 q of fiber), product for which the Ivory Coast d’A. It occupies a prominent place among African producers, and rice (9.100. 000 q), for which the country has not yet achieved self-sufficiency and must be imported in large quantities. In recent years, timber exports have been significantly reduced due to the intensive exploitation to which forests have been subjected without adequate reforestation programs.

The oil is extracted in small quantities (358. 000 t in 1995) from the submarine Bélier oilfield, discovered in 1975. In 1995, the exploitation of the Lion offshore field began, identified in 1994: the joint production of the two fields should make Ivory Coast d’A. self-sufficient, with the prospect of becoming a net oil exporter. In 1991 the exploitation of the Ity gold field began (1300 kg of gold in 1995) and in 1993 that of the Aniuri field (almost 4000 kg).

The manufacturing sector, which provides about 18 % of the GDP value, is dominated by agro-industrial activities, such as the processing of cocoa, coffee, cotton, palm oil, pineapple, fish, etc. During the 1980s and early 1990s, the government pursued a privatization program for industries, keeping the stake only in the power generation and oil refining sectors. This policy is part of a broader external debt restructuring plan, the amount of which is so high (19,713 million dollars in 1996) that the payment of interest and repayments of maturing debts absorb about half of the budget outlays. state.


During the 1990s the transition process from the authoritarian one-party to multi-party regime, started in a phase of severe economic recession and marked by an unprecedented wave of social protests, was heavily hampered by the resistance of the ruling elites, mostly belonging to the ethnicity of the Baoulé and expression of the interests of the agrarian classes and financial groups linked to foreign investors.

In fact, the legalization of parties and the general elections of 1990 did not represent the prerequisites for a profound change in the political system that continued to be monopolized by President F. Houphouët-Boigny and his Parti démocratique de la Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI). Furthermore, the government persisted in carrying out a heavy repression against the opposition – expressed by university students and the urban middle classes, mostly belonging to the ethnic groups that remained on the margins of the development process -, which had as its main political reference the Front populaire ivoirien, left.

The social situation therefore remained particularly tense, exacerbated by the persistence of profound economic hardship and a serious regional imbalance (investments remained mainly concentrated in the south-eastern area), and ethnic and regionalist conflicts found new nourishment, as well as xenophobic sentiments against immigrants who they represented, in 1990, more than 30 % of the population.

In an attempt to crush student protests, the government disbanded their organizations and decided to station troops on university campuses (June 1991), carrying out indiscriminate arrests, which also affected the leader of the opposition party, L. Koudou Gbagbo and the president of the Ligue ivoirienne des droits de l’homme, R. Degny-Segu (February 1992).

Both were released in the following July following the amnesty granted by President Houphouët-Boigny, which however also affected the soldiers recognized as responsible for violence against students. Within the party, meanwhile, conflicts were intensifying and a clash was opened to designate the successor of the elderly president, seriously ill.

When Houphouët-Boigny died (December 1993), head of state became – according to the Constitution – the president of the National Assembly, H. Konan Bédié, who imposed himself on his rivals also thanks to the open support received from France, the main commercial partner of the country. After the popular protests provoked by the devaluation, in January 1994, of the CFA franc (Coopération Financière Africaine, the common currency of French-speaking Africa) and accelerated the structural adjustment program, Konan Bédié won with over 95 % of the votes. the presidential elections of October 1995, boycotted by the opposition and accompanied by violent clashes, in numerous cities. Equally clear was the success of the PDCI in the legislative sessions held in November. In the following two years, the government, despite being able to count on a partial recovery of the economy and an increase in foreign investments, maintained its rigid economic policy, in an attempt to contain the growing public debt and satisfy the demands of the International Monetary Fund. The authoritarian line adopted against the opposition, repeatedly condemned by international organizations for the defense of human rights, did not undergo substantial changes, despite the announcement made by Konan Bédié, in October 1996, of the start of a cautious democratization process..

On the international level, the country was affected by the civil war that broke out in neighboring Liberia (1989); moreover, due to the support granted to one of the warring factions, it often entered into conflict with the countries of the ECOWAS (Economic Community of West African States), which in turn were engaged with their own troops in this conflict.

In February 1998, in order to face the deterioration of the economic situation, the government made a request for financing to the International Monetary Fund, pledging to accelerate the process of privatization and reduction of public spending.

Ivory Coast Economy