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

Analysis: China Raises Hong Kong Rhetoric to Tiananmen Level

A front-page commentary in The People’s Daily called the current demonstrations 'chaos,' the same word Party officials used 25 years ago to describe the Tiananmen Square protests More

US Airstrikes Anger Syrian Civilians Fleeing Their Homes

Pentagon officials say they have seen no credible evidence of civilian deaths caused by US airstrikes against Islamic State militants More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid