News / Africa

    Sanctions Hurt Ivory Coast Economy

    Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011
    Security contain clients standing outside the headquarters of the Bicici bank as they came to withdraw money in Abidjan, March 3, 2011

    Economic sanctions against Ivory Coast are hurting business in the world's top cocoa producer.

    Thousands of civil servants line up along Abidjan's Rue des Banques, waiting to be paid their February salaries. When foreign banks closed last month because of regional sanctions against incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, his government faced its biggest economic challenge yet: finding the cash to pay its workers, especially its soldiers.

    Gbagbo's government quickly took charge of those banks and reopened them this week, just in time to pay civil servants 80 percent of their normal salaries.

    "That will be a great success. I am sure they will be able to do it," said English teacher Ibrahim Kalo.  He says the regional central bank move to cut off the Gbagbo government was a challenge to all Ivorians - a challenge that has been met.

    "I think this was an operation to diabolize [demonize] the government of Cote d'Ivoire,” Kalo added. “But I think they can pay us. That is why we are standing now in the queue. You can see from all the banks here long lines of people waiting for money, and they will be paid. You can be sure of that. There is no trouble."

    Winceslas Appia, general manager of Abidjan's Bank for Agricultural Financing says there is enough cash to take care of everyone. So people should remain calm, he said. Appia said the banks have put in place measures to reinforce their staff so everyone will be served.

    Withdrawals limited

    Personal withdrawals are limited to about $425 a day. Gbagbo's Minister of Economy and Finance, Desire Dallo says those limits are meant to help the banking system stay solvent.

    Dallo is asking people not to withdraw all their money because the banking system works only if there is a balance between deposits and loans. Dallo said it is obvious that people are afraid that banks will close again. But he said these are now state-run banks that will not fail, so account holders should not panic and withdraw all their money because that will not help.

    Why sanctions?

    Economic sanctions are meant to drive Gbagbo from power after he claimed re-election in last November's disputed presidential runoff. The constitutional council annulled nearly 10 percent of the ballots as fraudulent. Ivory Coast's electoral commission and the United Nations certified results that say former Prime Minister Alassane Ouattara won that vote.

    Ouattara's call for a ban on cocoa exports has brought most of that industry to a halt, denying the Gbagbo government an important source of tax revenue. Sanctions have led to a shortage of cooking gas and the collapse of money transfers and credit cards, making Ivory Coast a cash-only economy.

    Economic impact

    Senegalese businessman Mouctar Bah sells mobile phones in Abidjan's Treichville neighborhood.

    Bah says Seneglese merchants were in Ivory Coast when it was good. Now nothing is working. There is not Western Union or banks to transfer money. Businessmen are not politicians, Bah says, so when things are not working, it is time to leave.

    At a Total Petrol station on Boulevard du General DeGaulle, motorists are no longer allowed to buy fuel in jerry cans. It is part of a government campaign to prevent hoarding as Abidjan's refinery is reducing production because it is having trouble buying crude.

    Effective?

    Ouattara supporters say sanctions against Gbagbo are working, though more slowly than they hoped.

    "We will see that the effects will be quite remarkable,” said Jean-Marie Kacou Gervais, Ouattara's foreign minister. “We can't see it by now, but it's on. And I am sure he will not be able to stand the heat when the time comes."

    Even those who do not recognize Gbagbo's authority agree that his is the de facto government in Ivory Coast so long as it pays its soldiers.

    "He has the army and he also has got the finance to pay,” said Hamadoun Toure, the United Nations mission spokesman. “As long as he has the two powers, he will be in control of the situation."

    Pro-Gbagbo parliamentarian Bamba Massany says Ivorians will not be cowed by the international community.

    Massany said sanctions against the Gbagbo government are inhuman and nonsensical. Now is the time for people to help the government, as Massany said it is working to strengthen Ivory Coast's economic foundations.

    You May Like

    Native Americans Ask: What About Our Water Supply?

    They say they have been facing a dangerous water contaminant for decades - uranium – but the problem has received far less attention than water contamination by lead in Flint, Michigan

    Pakistan's President Urges Nation Not to Celebrate Valentine's Day

    Mamnoon Hussain criticizes Valentine's Day, which falls on Sunday this year, as a Western import that threatens to undermine the Islamic values of Pakistan

    Mother of IS Supporter: Son Was Peaceful, 'Role Model'

    Somali-American Abdirizak Mohamed Warsame pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of conspiring to provide material support to Islamic State militants

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortagei
    X
    February 12, 2016 7:31 PM
    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.