Abidjan, the city known as "the Paris of Africa" is the thriving capital of West Africa's most prosperous country -- the Ivory Coast.
Abidjan, the city known as "the Paris of Africa" is the thriving capital of West Africa's most prosperous country -- the Ivory Coast. The modern apartment and office buildings rising over the tree-lined boulevards reflect the progress in the former French colony which celebrates its ten years of independence on August 7.
The four-and-a-half million people of the country, under the leadership of President Houphouet-Boigny, will also be celebrating one of Africa's real success stories. The prosperity of the country is due to a spectacular increase in exports -- up nearly four-fold in the last ten years, and a favourable climate for foreign investment. At Abidjan's port -- the largest in French-speaking Africa, the docks are being extended to cope with the growing trade. As and exporting country, Ivory Coast ranks third in the world as a coffee producer, and fourth in cocoa sales. Half of the nations's work force earns its income from these crops. In recent years exports of tropical woods, particularly mahogany, have risen rapidly. Coffee, cocoa, and wood account for about 70 per cent of all exports with bananas, palm oil, pineapple, rubber, cola nuts and cotton making up most of the rest of products sold overseas.
Emphasis has been placed on exports of manufactured products and at present they consist mainly of cotton fibres and fabrics, sawed and tooled wood, canned food including fish, cocoa butter and powdered coffee.
In the home market quite extensive light industry has been established. One factor in this development is the Ivory Coast's favourable tax concessions to foreign investors bringing industry to the country.
As well as producing manufactures for export, the light industry makes available consumer products to replace imports on the home market. Among mechanical and electrical industries the motor vehicle assembly plants are the major employers. The French firm Renault and Japanese Toyota are two of the car manufacturers with plants in Abidjan. The American firm Union Carbide produces batteries -- an important item in a country increasingly demanding modern electrical appliances.
Although not an oil producer itself, the Ivory Coast has a refinery built with French assistance. The refinery satisfies much of the local need for oil products.
The pineapple canning industry illustrates the role of joint Ivory Coast and foreign investment. The plant near Grand Bassam is financed by West Germany and uses Hawaian canning machinery made in Britain. To complete the international aspect of the venture the manager is an American with wide experience in the industry. Ivory Coast is the world's fifth largest pineapple exporter.
The Government's success in attracting foreign investors and the stability of President Houphouet-Boigny's Government has resulted in a doubling of investment from American, European, and Asian countries in the ten years since Independence.
Tourism is hoped to be a future major source of overseas funds. At Port Bouet a world-class international airport has been completed to cope with modern jet aircraft. Already tourists are flowing into the country and hotels and facilities to cope with overseas visitors are completed or under construction. At the Hotel Ivoire -- one of Abidjan's top-class hotels -- all the facilities the international tourist expects are available.
The attractions for tourists include the beaches -- both at the edge of lagoons and by the sea. Vridi near Abidjan is becoming a popular place to relax in the African sunshine. Inland trips to the tropical forests teeming with exotic wildlife allow visitors to see the untouched interior of the continent. Hotels are being developed outside the capital and the Government encourages African artists to display examples of local sculpture, pottery and weaving.
SYNOPSIS: Abidjan, the city sometimes known as "the Paris of Africa" is the thriving capital of West Africa's most prosperous country -- the Ivory Coast. The modern apartment and office buildings rising over the tree-lined boulevards reflect the progress in the former French colony which celebrates its ten years of independence on August 7.
The four and a half million people of the Ivory Coast will also be celebrating one of Africa's real success stories. Under the leadership of President Houphouet-Boigny there has been a spectacular increase in exports -- up nearly four-fold in the last ten years. President Houphouet-Boigny and his government have also promoted a favourable climate for foreign investment in the Ivory Coast. Tourism is growing rapidly and it is hoped it will become a future major source of foreign currency. At Port Bouet a world class international airport has been completed to cope with modern jet aircraft.
Already tourists are flowing into the country and the number is showing a healthy annual increase. To cope with the upsurge in the tourist industry modern hotels and other facilities are mushrooming throughout the country. The International Air Terminal handles some 400,000 passengers annually and an automatic baggage delivery system has been installed for more efficient passenger handling.
At the Hotel Ivoire - one of Abidjan's top class hotels - the international traveller will find all the facilities he expects. With more than five hundred rooms the Ivoire is one of the largest and most modern hotels in West Africa.
The attractions for tourists include the beaches - both at the edge of lagoons and by the sea. Vridi, near Abidjan, is becoming a popular place to relax in the African sunshine. The government is also trying to attract tourists to visit other parts of the country. At Fresco 280 kilometres (175 miles) west of Abidjan visitors may even take part in night-time crocodile fishing expeditions.
For the visitors who want to study African wildlife, opportunities abound for travel to the Interior of the Ivory Coast. Ivory Coast artists and craftsmen are developing their work in wood sculpture, iron work, pottery and weaving. The government encourages the artists to put their work on show. The wooden sculptures - distinguished by a variety of timber scents - are produced by master craftsmen. The range covers masks, statues, tom-toms and figurines representing gods, holy figures and animals. Copper and bronze are also worked into statues and figurines, daggers bracelets and other forms of jewellery.
The Ivory Coast has built up a substantial trade in agricultural goods to many countries throughout the World. At Abidjan's port - the largest in French-speaking Africa the docks are being extended to cope with the growing trade. The Ivory Coast is the world's third largest producer of coffee. In the 1967-68 crop year it produced 288,000 tons and exported 214,000 tons worth 140 million U.S. Dollars. Coffee provides a livelihood for almost 50 per cent of the population. In recent years exports of tropical wood have risen rapidly due to particularly high world demand. In 1968, exports of raw wood, including mahogany, accounted for about 65 million U.S dollars, placing it just after coffee.
The cultivation of pineapple is becoming increasingly profitable. The most advanced methods of cultivation have been adopted by the native growers to ensure top quality. Modern canning plants have been established in the areas of production.
Exports of canned pineapples last year had a value of 6.5 million U.S. dollars and fresh pineapple exports totalled 2.5 million dollars.
Between 1960 and 1967 the Ivory Coast's industrial production multiplied more than three and a half times. Since 1965 the Ivory Coast has been able to satisfy all its own needs in the field of oil products. Gasoline, gas, fuel oil and bottled gas products are all processed by the Societe Ivorienne de Raffinage (Ivory Coast Refining Corporation). While the responsibility for agricultural activities is largely borne by Ivoriens, industrial development depends essentially on foreign investment, particularly French. In the last few years, though, foreign capital from Germany, Italy and the United States is playing a greater part in the Coast's industrial development.
In order to encourage financial investment, legislation was passed in 1959 to provide attractive fiscal arrangements for foreign investors. The legislation guarantees investors tax exemption for five years on industrial and commercial profits, a similar exemption on patents and many other financial benefits.
These incentives have resulted in a doubling in investment from American, European and Asian countries in the ten years since the Ivory Coast's independence.
For a country whose export market comprises mainly agricultural produce, the establishment of a tractor factory by the Rumanian government has proved a definite boost. The French-based Renault car company has also set up a plant in Abidjan. In the ten years since independence, the Ivory Coast, under the leadership of President Felix Houphouet-Boigny has attained a progress and growth rate which has been little short of spectacular. The people of the Coast have attacked the task of forming their new nation with vigour and enthusiasm. The next decade will see a consolidation of this growth. Many projects are in the process of being realised, others are still under consideration. Today, the people of Abidjan are secure in the knowledge that their city is the capital of one of the most dynamic new countries in Africa.