Cote d'Ivoire: Risk Assessment
Country Risk Rating
Business Climate Rating
- Diversity of resources: hydrocarbons, ores (gold, copper, iron, manganese, bauxite) and agricultural wealth (world’s largest producer of cocoa, coffee, sugar, cashew nuts)
- Infrastructures undergoing modernization
- Improving the business climate and governance
- Strengthening political stability
- Economy dependent on weather-related hazards and cocoa price evolution, main export product
- Gaps yet to be filled in public financial, infrastructure, and the business environment management, despite the progress that has been made
- Slow progress on national reconciliation
Strong Growth Despite Some Turbulence
In 2017, growth, while strong, was less robust due to lower oil production and lower cocoa prices. In 2018, investments will continue to drive growth. In particular, public investment will continue to be driven by the continuation of major public infrastructure works under the second National Development Plan (2016-2020 NDP). The construction, transport and energy sectors will continue to drive Ivorian growth. These public investments, combined with the various reforms undertaken to improve the business climate, should also support increased private investment. Agriculture, agribusiness, mining, manufacturing, and services (telecommunication) will be the favored activities. Eager to develop the oil and gas industry, the government, on the other hand, had difficulties stirring the interest of investors after several setbacks in the exploration phase. Firmer oil prices in 2018 could nevertheless encourage new hydrocarbon projects. After suffering in 2017, cocoa-related export revenues are expected to grow slightly, in line with the trend in brown gold prices. The entry into production of the Sissingué gold mine in the first quarter of 2018 could, on the other hand, be a welcome addition to the export basket. With some 6 million Ivorians being dependent on the cocoa sector, household consumption could suffer from low prices for the fruit of their labor. Nevertheless, growth prospects for private consumption remain positive, thanks in particular to price stability.
Falling Brown Gold Prices Precipitate Fiscal Adjustment
Compounded in 2017 by the difficult socio-economic conditions (lower cocoa prices, bonus payments to meet social demands), the budget deficit should be reduced in 2018. Controlling current expenditure will free up margins for capital investment planned for the achievement of the 2016-2020 NDP. The rationalization of certain tax exemptions and the improvement of tax mobilization should allow revenues to progress over the next fiscal year. Reforms to the tax system will be supported by the IMF under the three-year programs of the Extended Credit Facility (ECF) and the Extended Credit Mechanism (MEDC), which has been in operation since the end of 2016. The level of public debt remains moderate, particularly below the WAEMU norm of 70%, and the sustainability and liquidity indicators show a measured risk of over-indebtedness. The accumulation of debt, particularly external debt, is framed by the debt management strategy in order to guarantee the sustainability of state financing.
The deterioration of the goods surplus, following the decline in export earnings, in the wake of cocoa prices, had the effect of deteriorating the current account deficit in 2017. In 2018, in a context of relatively weak cocoa prices, and despite vigorous production, the balance of goods is not expected to register significant improvement. The demand for imports will continue to thrive on rapid economic growth and the public investment program. As in recent years, service, transfer and income accounts will remain in deficit. Despite the deterioration in the current balance, foreign direct investment and external borrowing, especially concessional borrowing, will finance the deficit.
Political Stability Remains Fragile
The smooth re-election of Alassane Ouattara in 2015 made it possible to turn the page on the violence that followed the 2010 election. Nevertheless, despite the victory of the ruling bipartisan coalition (Rally of the Republicans - RDR) in the 2016 parliamentary elections, political stability remains fragile. A constitutional referendum boycotted by the opposition in the same year, in particular, recalled that the reconciliation among Ivorians is not yet complete. Mutinies in the armed forces in the first half of 2017 have also brought the subject of political stability back to the heart of the debate. The payment of the bonuses claimed by the mutineers to end the crisis could undermine the credibility of President Ouattara. Indeed, while the disconnect between the dynamism of growth and the stagnation of the standard of living fuels frustration, the agreement reached between the government and the mutineers, the details of which have not filtered, has not gone over well with a population that is still suffering from lack of work and the inadequate quality of public services. In addition, the grumblings of civil servants, which led to strikes in January 2017, could also resurface, since their representatives still believe that negotiations to obtain raises and the payment of wage arrears have not been successful. These sources of instability could be exacerbated, as the race for Alassane Ouattara’s succession, who, according to the Constitution, must retire in 2020 after serving two consecutive terms, is intensifying.