Ivory Coast is the fastest growing economy in Africa according to a new report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which indicates that the West African country may have finally found its path to sustainable development after enduring years of turmoil and civil conflict. The IMF places Ivory Coast’s growth rate at 8.5 percent, much higher than the growth experienced in other sub-Saharan Africa countries, which remains at 3 percent.
The financial institution also expects the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) to increase by an average of 7.4 percent between 2017 and 2020, CNN reports.
But as the country’s economic growth looks upbeat, not all Ivorians are enjoying the benefits as the World Bank estimates that almost half of the population is still living in poverty.
“We expect growth to become more inclusive so that the population will benefit more than what it has,” Ivory Coast’s IMF Mission Chief, Dhaneshwar Ghura said.
Powering the Economy
The Ivory Coast is currently experiencing a steady increase in the demand for electricity, forcing the country’s independent energy producer, Ciprel, to invest millions of dollars in the expansion of its production operations.
With vast pools of natural resources essential to the production of hydropower and thermal power, Ivory Coast is viewed as the powerhouse for the sub-Saharan region. However, studies show that only a small portion of the more than 80 percent of people living near the electricity line are connected to the national power grid.
Part of the reason why more than 60 percent of the population is not connected to power is because most low-income earners cannot afford to buy and install power meters.
To ensure that everyone plays their part in moving the economy forward, the Ivorian government is working on a plan to get rid of the initial payments for a power meter through an initiative dubbed, “Eletricite pour tous” (electricity for all).
The West African country is also investing in great infrastructure projects including the Henry Konan Bedie bridge, which spans across the Ebrie Lagoon linking Abidjan, the country’s economic capital in the North with the country’s commercial and industrial districts in the South.
The bridge, which took three years to build and cost $250 million, has improved the quality of life in Abidjan, reducing the average commuter’s time by 30 minutes.
BY FREDRICK NGUGI