Why Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire?

Well-managed urbanisation can progress Côte d’Ivoire’s national growth and its middle class. The urban population of Côte d’Ivoire amounts to 54.2% (2015) and boasts an annual growth rate of 3.69%. Small cities with low urbanisation levels facilitate internal scale economies by unleashing the agricultural potential of its region. Secondary cities generate localisation economies through efficient regional trade and transport, while large cities stimulate urbanisation economies for innovation and global competitiveness. Major urban areas include Yamoussoukro (capital) 259,000, Abidjan (seat of government) 4.86 million and Bouake 762,000.

The country is well connected with over 22 million mobile users and close to 6 million internet aficionados. In terms of population, the city of Abidjan comes second in West Africa, outnumbered only by Lagos. It’s status confirms that a fast-growing number of international events and summits are based there. In 2017 for instance, Abidjan will host the 8th edition of the “Games of La Francophonie”, a sporting event for French speaking nations held every four years.

From Abidjan airport’s packed arrival halls to the hotels and plush villas mushrooming across the city, Côte d’Ivoire—an economy of 25 million people with some of West Africa’s best infrastructure and the world’s biggest cocoa producer—is booming, after years of turmoil and civil war.

Côte d’Ivoire ranked second behind Nigeria this year on Nielsen’s African Prospects Indicator, an index combining macro-economic, business, retail and consumer outlooks.The government is predicting growth of 9.6 percent this year, making the country a standout performer on a continent, considering commodity prices, capital outflows and tumbling currencies.

Côte d’Ivoire is the largest marketplace in Francophone Africa with a denser road network than in most African countries. Robust growth is driven by public and private infrastructure investment, household consumption and higher prices for coffee, cocoa beans, and other food products in big demand worldwide.

Since the business environment earned IMF praise, Côte d’Ivoire is also becoming very attractive for foreign direct investment. The airport of Abidjan specifically had 1.3 million passengers in 2014, double the tally from four years ago. Furthermore, as a member of the West African franc zone, whose currency is pegged to the Euro, Côte d’Ivoire offers investors protection from inflation and the rate of exchange fluctuations.

Additionally, the African Development Bank started moving its headquarters back to Abidjan last year. Côte d’Ivoire is not only dealing with France exclusively, it has flung the doors wide open to new partners. China is financing and carrying out the crucial expansion of Abidjan’s port. Korea is a partner in a light rail project. A Tunisian company led a major highway expansion. A Turkish company is launching water taxis while a Kuwait firm got the contract for airport logistics.

Governmental assistance to upgrade long-neglected infrastructure is gaining momentum. New bridges and highways have eased traffic congestion, and a revamping of the power grid has ensured that manufacturing and industrial sectors don’t face the extended blackouts that plague other neighbouring countries.

As cities continue to grow across the country, looking at ways in which science, technology and innovation can bolster sustainable urbanisation and speed up access to good public services has become a strategic priority for Côte d’Ivoire’s new administration.