Côte d’Ivoire could not maintain its lead as the fastest growing economy after it was outpaced by Ethiopia’s boom. Throughout 2017, the country’s annual growth estimates hovered around 8%, but investor confidence was shaken by the threat of mutinying soldiers.
President Alassane Ouattara was able to quell the threat as late as December only, by offering to pay off soldiers as part of a voluntary retirement scheme. That retirement scheme may not hold, though. In January last year, soldiers were paid to end a brief upraising, and in May the state was again forced to negotiate with soldiers who took over parts of the second largest city Bouake.
Instead of keeping soldiers happy, Côte d’Ivoire’s focus should have been on enacting its National Development Plan, which was supposed to help the country complete large infrastructure projects and diversify its economy.
A large part of the plan was the ambition to go from the world’s largest raw cocoa exporter to actually manufacturing and marketing its own chocolate. While some progress has been made, cocoa prices have fallen and farmers fear an unseasonably hot December and January could hurt their crops, showing that Côte d’Ivoire has not yet weaned itself from being a raw materials exporter.