News / Africa

Ivory Coast Economy Quickly Deteriorates, Alarming Economists and Residents

Cash is increasingly in short supply in Ivory Coast, adding to growing economic problems
Cash is increasingly in short supply in Ivory Coast, adding to growing economic problems
Nico Colombant

As the political impasse persists in divided Ivory Coast, the West African country, which was once the region’s economic powerhouse, faces further decline. Residents and analysts are very worried about the quickly dissolving economic situation there.

At a protest this week in Abidjan, a farmer complained about an ongoing cocoa embargo by major foreign export companies.

The farmer said, in Ivory Coast, cocoa money is essential for keeping children in school and for staying alive.
As economic sanctions pile against the government of disputed incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo, more and more banks operating in Ivory Coast shut down this week, prompting a run on the few remaining banks which have stayed open.

One student trying to get his money out, Jules Camara, said everyone is getting irritated.

He said banks should stay out of politics.

Shortages in cooking gas, rising prices in food markets, mass layoffs and companies shutting down are some of the other economic distress factors which are becoming more and more common place throughout Ivory Coast.
There is now general uncertainty whether Mr. Gbagbo will be able to pay the army and civil servants for the month of February.

In a statement read on state television late Thursday, Mr. Gbabo’s government said it would take over control of some of the closed banks, but it was unclear if it would be able to do so.

The United Nations, African groupings and most countries recognize Mr. Gbagbo’s challenger Alassane Ouattara as the winner of last year’s presidential election. But in December, the Ivory Coast constitutional council threw out votes from the rebel held north, alleging fraud.  This gave victory to Mr. Gbagbo and produced the current stalemate.

After independence from France in 1960, the Ivory Coast economic success story was built on cocoa, and other agricultural products including coffee, cotton and fruits.  

But many laborers, who originally came from neighboring countries, and their descendants, increasingly felt marginalized. This contributed to a rebellion in 2002 which split Ivory Coast in two.

Africa analyst with British-based Chatham House Paul Melly says while other West African countries have had economic growth in recent years, Ivory Coast has faced a steady decline.

"Cote d’Ivoire, the great success story has spent a decade stagnating, caught between civil war and this sort of peace that barely functions with interminable political wrangling and consequently an almost total absence of long term government strategy," said Melly.

He says the north under rebel occupation was the first area to face a severe downturn.

"For most of the last decade, public services have been completely absent because the government in the south stopped paying people.  So, [you have] just basic grassroots non-governmental organization assistance, a few people hanging on, but mostly the public service infrastructure has decayed very badly," he said. "Health, education, and grassroots development in the poorest parts of the country have not happened for a decade."

Economists fear the northern situation could now become duplicated in the south, with an economy that increasingly subsides outside legal frameworks.  They say cocoa farmers have already started selling their beans on illicit markets so their goods can be smuggled to neighboring countries.

Mr. Gbagbo, a former history professor, says he is fighting for a second independence to fully assume sovereignty from external actors, including economic ones. His opponents say he is sacrificing the livelihood of all Ivorians by refusing to cede power.

You May Like

Video Getting to Zero AIDS Infections

More than 35 million people around the world are infected with HIV, a disease that is both preventable and treatable

Children, Childhoods Lost in European Refugee Crisis

According to UNICEF, 190,000 children applied for political asylum in Europe in the first 9 months of this year - twice as many as last year

What Happened When I Landed in Antarctica

Refael Klein chronicles what it's like to visit one of the coldest, most desolate places on Earth

This forum has been closed.
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.
With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?i
Carol Pearson
November 29, 2015 1:23 PM
The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs