Flushed with election victory, bullish Ouattara says Ivory Coast to supply 50% of global cocoa by 2020

The economy will expand by as much as 9% annually through 2020, a pace that is more than twice as fast as the average in sub-Saharan Africa.

PRESIDENT Alassane Ouattara said Ivory Coast aims to produce half of the world’s cocoa by 2020 and that he won’t make the mistake of overwhelming the nation with debt to sustain growth like other nations in Africa.

“We will continue to boost our production, there is no limit,” Ouattara, 73, said in an interview in his office in Abidjan, the commercial capital, on Wednesday following his landslide victory in an Oct. 25 election. “I hope we can surpass 50% of global production in 2020 while continuing to improve the quality.”

The nation’s share of global production of the chocolate ingredient will rise from about 45% now, Ouattara said. Ivory Coast is the world’s largest producer of cocoa and had a crop of about 1.8 million tons last year.

Ouattara took office in 2011, inheriting an economy that had collapsed. Since then, the economy has rebounded, expanding at almost 10% this year and drawing investors like French supermarket chain Carrefour SA, which is set to open its first store sub-Saharan African store there.

The former economist took power in 2011 after President Laurent Gbagbo refused to accept defeat in a 2010 election to him.

The stalemate fuelled a civil war that left more than 3,000 people dead and paralysed the economy. Ouattara won 84% of the vote on Oct. 25, avoiding a runoff.

“It’s the first time in a quarter of a century that we have had no violence during an election,” Ouattara said. “That means that we’ve turned the page of the 2010 crisis and now we can focus on what’s really important: improving the daily life of Ivorians.”

The economy will expand by as much as 9% annually through 2020, a pace that is more than twice as fast as the average in sub-Saharan Africa, Ouattara said.

Commodity-rich nations on the continent are slashing budgets and trying to raise money on debt markets to plug revenue gaps from falling prices for exports such as oil and copper.

The debt to gross domestic product ratio will be 40% to 50% from about 43%, he said. Ivory Coast’s neighbour Ghana has a ratio of about 62% and is struggling to reduce some of the highest borrowing costs on the continent.

-Bloomberg

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