Addressing the 23rd General Assembly of the Ivory Coast's Chamber of Industry last week, the Chamber's President, Mr.
Addressing the 23rd General Assembly of the Ivory Coast's Chamber of Industry last week, the Chamber's President, Mr. Lambert Konan, revealed that last year the turnover for the industrial sector was about 300 billion Central African Francs (GBP7,228,915 sterling). He pointed out that this was 23 times larger than the figure for 1960, and it meant that Ivory Coast was now one of the leading industrial countries in French West Africa.
SYNOPSIS: The impressive development of the country's economy has sometimes been described as "the Ivory Coast miracle", and much of the credit for it must be given to the liberal economic policies followed by the government led by 70 year-old President Felix Houphouet-Boigny. Critics, however, say that foreign interests have played too great a part in the financing of Ivorian industry, and too few of the benefits have reached the people. A reason perhaps for Mr. Konan to emphasise turnover rather than gross earnings.
Nevertheless, the Ivory Coast's gross national product is five times higher than it was 14 years ago, and its per capita income has risen to 270 pounds sterling a year. The main port at Abidjan already boasts a relatively large oil refinery, and the government has signed agreements allowing international companies to search for oil within Ivorian territory. The port is being enlarged so it can handle oil tankers and container ships.
The production and export of palm oil and its related products, has been one of the big success stories in the Ivory Coast's development. It is the country's fourth largest export product, and the Ivory Coast has now overtaken Zaire to become the world's third largest exporter of palm oil. This success is the result of an investment programme dating back to 1960.
Oil palms have always grown naturally in the coastal regions, and for centuries they provided oil for local consumption. The Ivorians have cultivated a cross-breed oil palm which takes only three years to bear fruit, compared with seven years for wild palms.
However, despite such efforts to diversify industrial output, three products still account for 70 per cent of Ivory Coast's overseas earnings -- coffee, cocoa and timber. Moreover, two thirds of the population still rely directly on agriculture for their livelihood.
Coffee was first introduced to the Ivory Coast in about 1880, though large scale production did not begin until the 1930's. The country is now the third biggest producer of coffee after Brazil and Colombia.
In addition to cocoa and coffee, the Ivory Coast continues to earn considerable foreign exchange from the export of fruit. The only gloomy note in the economic outlook, has been a decline in the export of timber. But the situation is already improving, the national budget is rising, and the country has a healthy trade balance.