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    One of the success stories of Black Africa ??? the rapid development of Ivory Coast.?

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    One of the success stories of Black Africa ??? the rapid development of Ivory Coast. In the 18 years since independence from France, Ivory Coast has been transformed from one of the World's poorest nations to one that has demonstrated an economic growth rate among the highest in the world. The capital of Abidjan can now claim to be the business capital of West Africa.

    SYNOPSIS: The highest rate of economic growth occurred in the 60s, when Abidjan matured from a town to a city of a million people. The achievement is largely attributed to the leadership of 72-year-old President Houphouet-Boigny, sometimes known as the 'old sage of Africa' who prefers dialogue to confrontation. His government has contributed to the prosperity of the people of Abidjan be several means.

    The Government has placed economic progress before nationalism, remaining pro-West and giving generous incentives for investment of foreign capital. These liberal policies coupled with a stable government which prefers not to interfere in commerce, contributed to the boom in a country which has few natural resources of its own. Fine foreign imports are bought by the residents of one of the most expensive cities in the world.

    The boom has attracted immigrants from many part of Africa and Europe. They have established nearly 650 industrial enterprises with capital from France, West Germany, the United States, Italy and Japan...and Holland is also a major trading partner. The Government has seen a need to develop closer relations with rich countries other than France, and the free enterprise policy has attracted many investors. Some less welcomed results are the repatriation of wages and profits, an unbalanced distribution of incomes, and the influence held by the investors over economic policy.

    Ivory Coast still relies heavily on primary produce to pay for its imports. Agricultural expansion along with industrial development has been a key factor in promoting growth, but agricultural workers remain low-paid, and their small holdings are undercapitalised. The subsistence incomes in the countryside contrast with the concentration of wealth in Abidjan, and the government recognises a need for decentralisation away from the capital to restore the balance.

    Those individuals who may ponder the social imbalances soon find themselves in well-paid positions, and the government proposes to increase the participation of locals in the foreign business. Observers say that internal welfare and social issues will not demand attention as long as the boom continues.

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    Reuters - Source to be Verified
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