The West African country of Côte d’Ivoire is inviting foreign investors to set up agri-processing businesses. It is one of the world’s largest cocoa and cashew nut producers. But according to Patrice Mallet, head of Côte d’Ivoire’s Economic and Trade Office for Southern Africa, only 35% of its cocoa is processed inside the country.
“We are looking for investment in the agribusiness sector, so that we can process more of our product for the benefit of our farmers and the Ivorian people,” he told How we made it in Africa.
Mallet’s Johannesburg-based office has been set up a year ago to encourage investment into Côte d’Ivoire, as well as to promote Ivorian products in Southern Africa. In addition, Mallet also highlighted investment opportunities in mining and infrastructure.
Côte d’Ivoire is rebuilding the country following many years of conflict. In 2010/2011, it experienced significant unrest in post-election violence between the supporters of current president Alassane Ouattara and those loyal to the previous incumbent Laurent Gbagbo. This was preceded by almost a decade of political turmoil.
But a sign of confidence in the future of the country, is the fact that the African Development Bank (AfDB) is in the process of moving its headquarters from Tunis back to Côte d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan. The AfDB has been operating from a temporary location in the Tunisian capital since relocating there in 2003 due to the Ivorian crisis.
According to Mallet, English-speaking business people shouldn’t be put off by the fact that French is the official language in Côte d’Ivoire.
“The average Ivorian understands English, and can speak some English… so if a South African can go to China to do business, without any problems, there is no reason why they can’t do business in Côte d’Ivoire.
“So the language barrier, as far as I’m concerned, shouldn’t be a problem.”