Bravo to Côte d’Ivoire, Tanzania and Senegal for emerging as the top three fastest growing economies in Africa, according to the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) latest World Economic Outlook.
Côte d’Ivoire topped the group with an expected growth rate of 8.5 percent for 2016. It has performed so exceedingly well that the West African country is being described in some quarters as an “Economic Miracle.” How else can one describe a country that achieves nearly 10 percent growth rate less than three years after coming out of a bloody post-election crisis that led to the deaths of more than 3,000 people?
According to the World Bank, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic performance has been impressive over the past four years. Its robust Gross Domestic Product (GDP) experienced one of the highest growth rates of any African nation in 2015 and reduced poverty levels among Ivorians.
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The country’s accelerated growth is premised on its huge agricultural potential. Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s biggest producer of cocoa, harvesting 1.45-million tonnes in the 2012-13 season. That yield represents 35 percent of the world market and accounts for 15 percent of Côte d’Ivoire’s GDP. The country is also the second biggest producer of cashew nuts, growing 500,000 tonnes a year.
“As soon as there is peace, the country gains four points of growth from agriculture alone,” says an economist who pleaded anonymity but recalled that Côte d’Ivoire previously achieved “average growth of 8 percent in 1960-80.” Côte d’Ivoire also produces oil and gas, and it is endowed with other rich natural resources, although mining now accounts for no more than 5 percent of national output.
Other drivers of the Ivorian economy include the government’s resolve to tackle economic challenges and support from the World Bank, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which played an instrumental role in attracting private sector investments, as well as the implementation of several Emergency Youth Employment and Skills Development Projects (PEJEDEC) and many other related developmental programmes.
A government and people who set their priorities right by leveraging its area of comparative advantage and initiating pragmatic policies and structural reforms aimed at achieving strong, inclusive growth will prosper and swiftly achieve unimaginable heights.