Following years of political chaos, the Ivory Coast’s booming economy and improved infrastructure is creating the right climate to attract investment, according to budget minister Abdourahmane Cissé, a 34-year-old former Goldman Sachs trader, The Guardian reports. The West African country, which has diamond deposits, suffered political and military turmoil for years after rebels seized the north in 2002, causing the effective division of the county and years of tensions, culminating in a four-month civil war that killed about 3,000 people in early 2011 after former president Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat at the ballot box.
Gbagbo and youth leader Charles Blé Goudé are now on trial at the international criminal court for crimes against humanity. The conflict ended when Alassane Ouattara took office after a military intervention by France. Ouattara was re-elected by a landslide last year and, despite some fears of unrest, the poll was peaceful and seemed to confirm a return to stability. As a result, the economy is booming – with growth estimated at 9% for 2015 – and foreign investment is clear from the number of malls and hotels being built in the financial capital, Abidjan, the paper says. Ouattara, a former official at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has spent billions of dollars rebuilding roads and railways. The U.N. Security Council in 2014 lifted a decade-long arms embargo on Ivory Coast and removed a ban on its diamond exports. U.N. experts valued the annual illicit trade in Ivory Coast diamonds at between $12 million and $23 million. Before the embargo, Ivory Coast - the world's top cocoa producer - produced around $25 million worth of diamonds.
“There is a new vibe, you have a middle class that is gradually emerging … We have invested a lot in infrastructure,” said Cissé, adding that a return to violence is not an option. “Ivorians know what the price of peace is. They went through big issues when we had the trouble in 2010. No one wants to go there again … Every Ivorian wants their kids to go to school. He said the economy was diversified and there is a growing service sector. Cissé said the government plans to spend $60 billion on infrastructure between 2016 and 2020, with the private sector funding 68%, and to improve education as well as reducing the cost of doing business.