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World Travel Guide > Guides > Africa > Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast: Doing business and staying in touch

Doing Business in Ivory Coast

French is predominantly used in business circles, although executives in larger businesses may speak English. Translators are generally available. Punctuality is expected, although the host may be late. Business cards are essential and given to each person met. It is usual for business visitors to be entertained by local hosts in a hotel or restaurant. Lightweight suits should be worn.

Office Hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1430-1800, Sat 0800-1200.

Economy

The timber industry in Côte d'Ivoire has declined from previous levels due to excessive exploitation, although the government has now limited production in order to protect the remaining forests. A light industrial sector has grown up processing primary agricultural products and produces textiles, chemicals and sugar - again, these are aimed towards export markets.

Newly discovered offshore oil and gas deposits will boost the country's industrial sector as well as meeting future energy needs. Côte d'Ivoire already has an established oil refining operation which, along with cigarette manufacture, forms the main components of the country's industrial economy. It will also reduce Côte d'Ivoire's reliance on imported fuel to supplement the hydroelectric installations that are its main source of power.

A service sector is gradually developing, centred on tourism, financial services (exploiting the dominant role of the Abidjan stock exchange in the region) and telecommunications.

Côte d'Ivoire is one of the more prosperous economies in West Africa, although its recent progress has been undermined by severe political instability and the difficulty in meeting the standards of international donors; the economy grew by just 1% in 2004.

The country is a member of all the main regional economic organisations, including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the various bodies associated with the CFA Franc zone.
In Abidjan, the Palais des Congrès which is part of the Inter-Continental Hotel can host conferences for more than 3,000 persons. The political capital Yamoussoukro has a capacity for over 5,000. For details, contact the Office Ivoirien du Tourisme et de l'Hôtellerie (see Contact Addresses).

GDP

US$15.9 billion (2005).

Main exports

Cocoa, coffee, timber, rubber, cotton, palm oil, pineapples and bananas.

Main imports

Consumer goods, food and capital goods.

Main trading partners

USA, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Nigeria and Italy.

Keeping in Touch in Ivory Coast

Telephone

International telecommunications are available in major towns and centres.

Mobile Phone

Roaming agreements exist with international mobile phone operators.

Internet

Public access is available at Internet cafes in Abidjan.

Media

The government has used the media under its control, particularly the state broadcaster Radiodiffusion Télévision Ivoirienne (RTI), as a powerful tool in the country's ongoing crisis. As Ivorian forces launched attacks on rebels in the north in late 2004, state media fell into propaganda while opposition and independent newspapers based in Abidjan were raided and ceased publication.

FM relays of foreign stations in the city such as the BBC, Radio France Internationale and Africa No1 were disrupted. Radio is Côte d'Ivoire's most-popular medium. There are approximately 30 low-power, non-commercial community radio stations, including some run by the Catholic Church.

There are no private terrestrial TV stations, although pay-TV services are provided by Canal Satellite Horizons. Rebels in the centre of the country use state radio and TV facilities in Bouake for their own broadcasts. In August 2004, UN peacekeepers launched their own radio station, ONUCI FM. The station is now available in Abidjan and rebel-held towns in the north.

Post

Airmail to Europe takes up to two weeks.

Post Office hours

Mon-Fri 0730-1200 and 1430-1800.