ABIDJAN, July 31, 2009―Future development assistance to Cote d’Ivoire will rest on four main pillars: strengthening good governance, upgrading infrastructure and basic services, developing agriculture and promoting exports, and developing the private sector and improving the business climate. This, according to recent consultations on the country’s 2010-2013 Country Assistance Strategy (CAS), a roadmap for development priorities signed by international donors and the government.
The consultations, hosted by the World Bank in early July, included representatives of civil society, the private sector, international donors and non-governmental agencies. It aligns closely with Cote d’Ivoire’s national plan for reducing poverty, the Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper or PRSP.
“The World Bank would like to see Côte d’Ivoire regain the leadership position it occupied in the past,” said Mr. Madani M. Tall, World Bank Country Director for Côte d’Ivoire. “Not only for the sake of Ivoirians, but also for the sake of the entire West African sub-region, given that economic growth in Côte d’Ivoire will benefit the other countries of the sub-region, as it has in the past.”
Helping Ivoirians Dream of a Brighter Future
The four pillars of the CAS will address differing needs:
Strengthening governance is aimed at enhancing transparency and the effective use of public resources, as well as improving the governance mechanisms in the key sectors of the economy, namely coffee and cocoa, hydrocarbons, and public expenditure.
The infrastructure component is aimed at such basic infrastructure activity as the repaving of roads, improving the electricity grid, and expanding access to safe drinking water and sanitation services.
“In the 1960s and 1970s, high-quality infrastructure contributed to the steady growth of Côte d’Ivoire,” Tall noted. “However, owing to a lack of maintenance and the political crisis, the infrastructure deteriorated significantly and therefore needs to be repaired.”
According to Tall, this could be achieved through large-scale projects that would create jobs for young people and improve roads, sanitation networks, water, and electricity.
“It would also allow Ivoirians to dream of a brighter future, something that is equally important for the economy.”
The objectives of the agricultural pillar of the CAS are to enhance the performance of major sectors, promote their development, and assist with the processing of raw materials. Tall urged consultation participants not to overlook the agriculture sector from which the country derives most of its resources.
“Ivoirians know how to farm,” Tall said. “This is where their expertise lies. If we wish to achieve a significant reduction in poverty, then we must invest in agriculture in order to enhance the performance of the sector and provide it with greater value-added through the local processing of raw materials.”
The aim of the strategy in the private sector arena is to improve competitiveness and the business climate and to adapt the education system to a revived post-crisis economy. The strategy also aims to incorporate new technologies in business. This will entail optimizing the Ivoirian economy’s comparative advantages, as seen in a number of strategic sectors, promoting exports, and creating jobs.
A Partnership-based Strategy
International development partners that participated in the consultations included the UNDP, the European Union, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the United States embassy, and Germany. All partners commended the consultation process as inclusive
“The World Bank’s approach is commendable. It attests to a true spirit of partnership, which produces effective results,” said the German ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Dr. Stephan Keller.
The International Monetary Fund Resident Representative, Mr. Philippe Egoumé, echoed this sentiment and expressed his wish for harmonization of the CAS with the Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility (PRGF), which his institution has established for Côte d’Ivoire.
Local partners included Cote d’Ivoire’s National Organization for Women, Children, and the Family and the Center for Investment Promotion in Côte d’Ivoire (CEPICI).
“Political governance, that is, restoring the State’s authority, must be strengthened in addition to economic governance,” said CEPICI’s Mr. Akré Bieffo. “Political governance is a prerequisite for economic governance.”
Ms. Rachel Gogoua, president of the National Organization for Women, Children, and the Family urged partners to provide assistance to the livestock sector, which, she said, is essentially a women’s field.
“This would represent a major investment in women that would change the face of Ivorian society,” she said. Gogoua expressed her hopes that work will not be exclusively focused on cash crops, namely, coffee and cocoa, rubber, and cashew nuts.
This Interim Country Assistance Strategy, which will lead to the new Country Assistance Strategy, was implemented in April 2008, following the resumption of disbursements to Cote d’Ivoire, which were suspended in November 2004 due to nonpayment of arrears.