News / Africa

Ivory Coast Economy Drops Amid Political Impasse

Ivorian farmers protest an ongoing cocoa embargo by major foreign export companies
Ivorian farmers protest an ongoing cocoa embargo by major foreign export companies

Multimedia

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, diplomats, and analysts are very worried about the situation.

At a recent protest, Ivorian farmers complained about an ongoing cocoa embargo by major foreign export companies.  One of the protestors said Ivorians need cocoa money to survive.  

Other hardships facing Ivorians include shortages in cooking gas and rising prices on food markets.  Mechanic Lamine Sylla has been doing work for government officials, but he says he has not been paid in several months.

 

"If you work for the government, all the money has been trapped," said Sylla.  "You can no longer get paid."

Many banks are now shut down, while companies are laying off employees as outside economic sanctions against disputed incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo stiffen. Mr. Gbagbo has refused to cede power following controversial elections last year despite repeated mediation attempts.

The United Nations, African groupings and most countries recognize Mr. Gbagbo's challenger Alassane Ouattara as the winner of last year's presidential election.  

Cocoa is the area where sanctions have been most felt, both inside and outside Ivory Coast.

Jean-Marc Anga is the executive director of the London-based International Cocoa Organization. "As you know Cote d'Ivoire is a leading cocoa producer in the world with close to 30 to 40 percent of world supply so in the cocoa sector if anything happens in the Cote d'Ivoire it is a matter of concern for us," said Anga.

Cocoa has always been crucial in the history of Ivory Coast. After independence from France in 1960, the country's economic success story was mostly built on the lucrative bean, which is used to make chocolate.

But many cocoa 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 recently told a gathering of students in Washington that 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.

In addition to economic pressure against Mr. Gbagbo, some countries, like the United States, have started recognizing ambassadors appointed by Mr. Ouattara.  

Daouda Diabate, the new ambassador in Washington, was recently welcomed by Ivorian immigrants.

He says he believes as soon as Mr. Gbagbo leaves power, economic problems will be resolved. "Cote d'Ivoire used to be qualified as an economic miracle in Africa and this is the kind of thing that we know that once again we can achieve," said Gbagbo.  "We have the people. We have the resources. We have the opportunities. We just need peace and stability and we just want to see the right man at the right place do the job."

Mr. Ouattara is a former international banker, while Mr. Gbagbo is a former history professor.

The incumbent president and his supporters say they are fighting for a second independence to fully assume sovereignty from external actors, including economic ones. But their opponents say they are sacrificing the livelihood of all Ivorians and refusing to accept they lost the elections.

You May Like

At Khmer Rouge Court, Long-Awaited Verdict Approaches

First phase of trial, which is coming to an end, has focused on forced exodus of Phnom Penh in 1975 - and now many are hopeful justice will be served More

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities More

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

Downing of Malaysian airliner, allegations of cross-border shelling move information war in war-torn country to a new level More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
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.
Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
July 31, 2014 8:13 PM
The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.

AppleAndroid