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

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs