COTE D’IVOIRE — Only a few years ago, Abidjan was a city captured by violence and precarity. Only a few years ago, Cote d’Ivoire was a country stained by horrendous human rights violations, corruption, impunity and economic turmoil. Now? Cote d’Ivoire fights to overcome its violent past and so far, it’s winning.
It has one of the top five fastest growing economies in the world, it has recently instituted a new democratic constitution and it’s continually touted as a country rich in potential. Cote d’Ivoire’s potential — the buzz-word ringing in the ears of economists and humanitarians alike—is sliding ever closer to realization.
Recently, the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) came out with a “pockets of promise” list. That is, a list of African countries that show economic promise in the near future. Cote d’Ivoire was first on the list, noted as a country that “has everything going for it: a wealth of natural resources, both mineral and agricultural; competitive transport infrastructure; and a government that makes the right noise about business reform.”
All around, positive outlooks abound. DHL Express Cote d’Ivoire’s manager, Serge Gnandji, has expressed his optimism for the future — annual growth rate of around 8.5 percent with consistent economic predictions and burgeoning infrastructure projects that draw investors back to Abidjan, make Cote d’Ivoire the business hub of the country.
Indeed, this optimism seems to be well founded. Since 2000, the country has seen consistent GDP growth, Gross National Income (GNI) per capita is on the rise and poverty rates have fallen.
What’s more, in 2016 the country drafted and instituted a new constitution. Overcoming years of violence and upheaval, the constitution is praised as a new peaceful way forward. After he signed the text, President Ouattara remarked, “The promises of the Third Republic are the promises of peace, stability, equality and modernity.”
As peace seems to be settling across the country, the U.N.’s peacekeeping mission, which was established in 2004, came to an end in June of 2016, leaving control to the central government.
Obviously, Cote d’Ivoire’s potential is real. The economy is growing at an astounding rate which the country is equipped to sustain, peace is becoming a state of being the likes of which have not been felt for some time and political stability seems to be on the horizon with the implementation of a new constitution.
Yet, this optimism must not create social amnesia. The Ivorian League for Human Rights, the Ivorian Movement for Human Rights, the International Federation for Human Rights and Human Rights Watch have all called on the government to increase its efforts to root out political corruption and violence.
After all, it was only six years ago during the post-election crises of 2010-2011 that targeted sexual violence, torture and extrajudicial killings perpetrated by government forces, rebel forces, government-linked militia and student groups were widespread.
Even though all signs point to a brighter future—one free of political corruption and impunity, economic instability and poverty and full of economic growth, equality and peace—Cote d’Ivoire’s potential must be seen with history in mind. It must come with an understanding of political and ethnic-tensions and must not sacrifice human rights in the name of profit. All in all, the Cote d’Ivoire’s potential is limitless but must address the past to create a better future.
– Joseph Dover