Young seeker is ed at a fair in Barcelona. Spain’s youth unemployment remains among the highest in the European Union. (Po: Gustau Naino/Reuters/Newscom)
November 4, 2011
The IMF Executive Board approved a $615 million loan to Côte d’Ivoire to back the West African country’s rebound from a decade of civil unrest.
Cocoa shipment arrives at port of Adjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where conflict has left infrastructure needing rehalitation, expansion (po: Issouf Sanogo/AFP)
The loan supports a medium-term policy program that features a range of structural reforms to accelerate the country’s economic recovery and lay the foundations for erty reduction th sustained growth in economic activity and employment.
The IMF Board approved November 4 a three-year arrangement under the Extended Credit Facility. The loan is intended to underpin the main goal of the government’s economic strategy: to rebuild the economy after years of internal crisis, weak investment, low growth, and low employment.
To foster a dynamic te sector able to create s and reduce erty, the government is embarking on reforms to make the economy more efficient and aims to increase investment, pnering on infrastructure projects with the te sector where possible.
Infrastructure has degraded badly following a decade of political crisis, leaving large rehalitation and expansion needs. All of this requires more investment than Côte d’Ivoire has had in years, both and, especially, te. But the initial recovery has been surprisingly strong, and the country is off to a good st—with growth projected at 8½ percent for 2012.
Road to recovery
A five month-long crisis that followed former president Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to leave after the presidential elections in November 2010 ended with his arrest in mid-April. The government subsequently requested support under the IMF’s Rapid Credit Facility, and also sought emergency technical istance in tax and customs administration to help rest the economy.
As soon as the national security situation began to improve, the IMF’s Resident Representative and local staff returned to Adjan after four months of evacuation. They were followed by a staff team from Washington that reviewed the economic policy options. By end-May, the team had helped the authorities put together a budget—full of uncertainties, but a sting point—and an economic recovery program for 2011 that could be supported under the Rapid Credit Facility.
Côte d’Ivoire’s economy was hit by the post-election events beginning in December 2010: international sanctions, including against the country’s main ports; the closing of the banking system; armed conflict in the west of the country, and the use of heavy weaponry in Adjan, with a substantial death toll, widespread looting, and displacement of the population. As a result, there was significant material damage to infrastructure, government s, production facilities, and te property.
With the end of open combat, the gradual reopening of the banking system from the end of April, and the swearing-in of President Alane Ouattara at the beginning of May, Côte d’Ivoire has embarked on the road to recovery.
Since mid-2011 the country’s inesses, almost all of which had been put on a reduced schedule and some closed entirely, began to come back to life. A infusion of from France—equivalent to 1 percent of GDP, to help pay civil service and military salaries—primed the economic pump. Industrial production, which had fallen to half its year-before level in April, rebounded sharply in May (see ch) and exports resumed to ship the aculated stockpile of cocoa, of which Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s largest exporter.
Although in May most people seldom left their s after dark, by une confidence had risen sufficiently for nightlife to resume in Adjan, further aiding a sense of return to normalcy. As the situation on the ground ly improved, the IMF steadily revised upward its projections for Côte d’Ivoire’s 2011 GDP outturn from -7.5 percent in April to -6.3 percent in May to -5.8 percent in September.
Planning for the future
On une 1, President Ouattara announced a , 36-member government. At a two-day government retreat, each minister formulated specific objectives for the end of the year. Structural reforms that had been in the pipeline for years were included in the list of objectives: judicial, financial sector, pension, customs, and institutional and financial measures were adopted, as well as s to boost the critical cocoa and power sectors.
New problems emerged as recovery efforts gathered entum. For example, the banking sector suffered serious damage as a result of the conflict and it became critical to normalize banking operations to provide sufficient credit to support economic recovery.
The challenges facing Côte d’Ivoire remain ding. Security remains an issue in some regions. Legislative elections are scheduled for December 2011 and their fair and peaceful conduct would be a further important toward national reconciliation.
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