as a partner for safeguarding our prosperity via free trade and innovation
01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas
RELEVANCE: What relevance does Côte d'Ivoire have for Germany with regards to “safeguarding our prosperity via free trade and innovation”?
Côte d‘Ivoire is an anchor of political and economic stability in West Africa. Whereas there were three military coups in the neighbouring countries of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in an eight-month period beginning in May 2021, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained calm. The commodity-rich hub on the Gulf of Guinea has recorded consistently strong economic growth since 2012, regularly exceeding 6 percent, well above the population growth rate, which is also high at about 2.5 percent per annum. Its population grew from 16.5 million in 2000, to 26 million 20 years later. At the same time, GDP per capita rose from $920 to $2,271. Even in the pandemic year of 2020, when the African continent as a whole experienced a recession for the first time in 25 years, Ivorian economic output still grew by 2 percent. As a result, the country has a growing middle class providing a solid social base, even if there are still many challenges to be overcome. Even before the Covid-19 epidemic, for example, more than 30 percent of those in the 15-24 age bracket lacked both school/professional education and a job. For many Ivorians, the informal sector provides the principal opportunity to secure their existence.
As the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU; French acronym UEMOA) and a gateway to francophone West Africa, Côte d’Ivoire offers access to a region of more than 110 million people. Even if Côte d’Ivoire, like many other African nations, urgently needs to diversify its economy further to make it more resilient, the country enjoys a relatively broad base compared to others in the region. Côte d’Ivoire therefore has a significant role to play among the total of 15 member states of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). It has a well developed service sector and a growing manufacturing industry. The investment climate is also considered good.
WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Côte d'Ivoire willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?
Côte d’Ivoire stands out on account of its government’s pro-globalisation agenda and a culture of innovation that understands that technical changes are a necessary condition. Worth noting are the country’s increased efforts to expand its economic relations with Germany, and this is also reflected in the Reform Partnership agreed upon in 2017. One source of support for the German business community is the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) office that was opened in Côte d’Ivoire’s economic centre, Abidjan, in 2017. A regional office of the Import Promotion Desk (IPD) was also opened there in 2022.
STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Côte d'Ivoire's current cooperation in this area?
In 2019, Germany exported goods to the value of $280 million to Côte d’Ivoire and imported goods worth $592 million, mainly raw cocoa for Germany’s cocoa processing industry.
Negotiations on an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the EU and 16 West African states have been in progress since 2014. Since Nigeria has not yet ratified the Agreement, however, it cannot be put into effect. Besides Ghana, Côte d‘Ivoire is the only country in West Africa to have concluded an interim agreement to promote trade with the EU to bridge the gap, and this agreement is already provisionally in force.
There is also the “Reform Partnership” between Germany and Côte d‘Ivoire, which has been in place since 2017 as part of the G20 Compact with Africa initiative. The goal is to make the environment more attractive to private investment, and support training and professional development for urgently needed skilled workers. In June 2021, the Federal Government pledged about €73 million in new funding for Côte d’Ivoire and raised the prospect of further pledges. The core themes for future cooperation were set down as (1) Climate and energy; (2) Training and long-term growth for good jobs; and (3) Environment and natural resources.
POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Côte d'Ivoire in this area?
Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy in Côte d’Ivoire in terms of employment and export income. The country is the world’s second-largest producer of cocoa, with a market share of around 40 percent, and a major producer of unprocessed cashew nut kernels, coffee, palm oil and rubber. The fact that cocoa accounts for about half of the country’s export volume, however, highlights two key problems: Firstly, its low level of diversification leaves Côte d’Ivoire highly susceptible to external shocks and, secondly, only a very small part of the value chain is located in the country itself.
The country therefore faces the challenge of needing to bolster other parts of its economy besides agriculture, and to achieve greater productivity in its agricultural sector. There are opportunities in both of these areas for Germany to take its partnership with Côte d’Ivoire to a new level. By exporting German agricultural technology, it could encourage more intensive agriculture – both conventional and organic – and thus also contribute to the promotion of socioeconomic development. Innovative technologies are already being used to boost yields, by using drones to monitor production, for example.
Well-educated Ivorians emerging onto the labour market year after year and failing to find formal employment are also establishing a lively start-up scene. The “Canaan Land” network, for example, aims to encourage sustainable agriculture and bolster the position of female smallholders. “PASS SANTE MOUSSO” and “COLIBA” offer services in the healthcare and waste management sectors. This comes with a high level of openness to innovation and technology. Innovative companies from Germany can also find potential here to expand or pilot business models. Many international players are already very successfully offering digital services in areas such as FinTech, Quick Commerce and mobility. Even so, the market is far from being saturated, and there is great readiness on the Ivorian side to become involved.
Cooperation in the context of the Reform Partnership also opens up opportunities for German companies. Specific examples include efforts to expand and modernise the electricity network in Côte d’Ivoire, including the generation of additional power via privately operated solar power stations.
POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?
- Germany is one of a total of seven member countries of the EU that have not yet ratified the interim EPA with Côte d’Ivoire. To bolster economic interaction, Germany should ratify the Agreement as quickly as possible, and also encourage its partners in Europe to ratify it sooner rather than later. Only then will it be possible to apply the Agreement in full and get the most out of its potential.
- Germany should also constructively monitor the further integration process of Côte d’Ivoire as part of ECOWAS. As a mechanism for regional integration, ECOWAS is an important element in the successful refinement and implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). In the longer term, Germany should advocate at a European level for a comprehensive trade agreement between the EU and AfCFTA.
- To establish a future-oriented innovation partnership, it is essential to improve the overall conditions for private business in the country. This includes clamping down on corruption and improving security and the rule of law in particular. As part of the reform partnership already in place with Côte d’Ivoire, Germany can link future commitments to demonstrable progress in these areas.
- Increased cooperation also depends on the extent to which Ivorian companies can access well educated, skilled workers. To align university education more closely with the needs of the labour market, additional support should be provided for the dual-study model in the form of collaborative arrangements between German universities and their counterparts in Côte d’Ivoire.
- The targeted promotion of women’s rights could combat the structural disadvantages faced by women in the area of land ownership rights. This disadvantage has so far been a barrier to improvements in efficiency and the expansion of agricultural activities.
Dr Stefanie Brinkel heads the KAS Regional Programme Political Dialogue in West Africa, based in Abidjan.
Gunter Rieck Moncayo is policy advisor for “Economy and Trade Sub-Saharan Africa” at the Department of European and International Cooperation.
02 — Foreign Office
Regionalprogramm Politischer Dialog Westafrika
08 Abidjan/Côte d‘Ivoire, Cocody Lycée Classique Rue Flamboyant (Ancien CECOS)
08 BP 4134 Abidjan
03 — The region
Côte d‘Ivoire is an anchor of political and economic stability in West Africa. Whereas there were three military coups in the neighbouring countries of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in an eight-month period beginning in May 2021, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained calm. The commodity-rich hub on the Gulf of Guinea has recorded consistently strong economic growth since 2012, regularly exceeding 6 percent, well above the population growth rate, which is also high at about 2.5 percent per annum. Its population grew from 16.5 million in 2000, to 26 million 20 years later.
- Population: 27.712.600
- Capital: Yamoussoukro
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has various resources that play, or will play, a major part in limiting global warming, in addition to helping with the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s second largest area of rainforest – about 100 million hectares – is located in DR Congo. Tropical ecosystems such as the Congolese rainforest are capable of storing CO2, and thus play an important part in global climate protection and in limiting global warming. At a micro level, forest areas can also reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heat or intense rain.
- Population: 95.403.294
- Capital: Kinshasa
Malawi has shown that it can serve as an example of a functioning democracy in Africa and a partner for Germany in defending a democratic, values-based world order. The country made history in 2020 when the May 2019 elections, which had been overshadowed by irregularities, were successfully disputed by the opposition. New, free and fair elections ordered by the court were held under Covid-19 conditions within 150 days. An alliance of opposition parties, the Tonse Alliance, won the elections with an absolute majority. Since then, new President Lazarus Chakwera has pursued the objective of suppressing widespread corruption and putting the country onto a successful economic footing.
- Population: 20.150.838
- Capital: Lilongwe
As part of its security policy commitment in West Africa, German foreign policy has focused for many years on Mali and its neighbouring countries, also known as the Sahel Region, whose stability is directly relevant to peace and security in this country on account of its close proximity to Europe. Nevertheless, we need to broaden our geographical horizons, since Jihadism, ethnic conflicts and organised crime are becoming more widespread throughout West Africa. This poses a threat to political and economic stability among the southern neighbours of the Sahel countries in particular, such as Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire is an important partner for Germany in the area of trade and development policy cooperation in West Africa. One area where this finds expression is in the Reform Partnership which Germany has maintained with the country since 2017.
- Population: 27.712.600
- Capital: Yamoussoukro
The world needs Africa in order to stop climate change, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised during the EU-Africa summit in early 2022. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the enormous dependence on coal. The role that the various players in South African politics who could veto these efforts will play is hard to assess, however.
- Population: 59,308,690
- Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
Kenya is one of the most stable countries in East Africa and has an internationally oriented economy. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the Covid crisis and a GDP of more than 100 billion US dollars (2020), Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa and is a growth engine for the region. Thanks to the ports of Mombasa and Lamu as well as the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important regional hub for trade,finance and the transport of humanitarian aid in the region. Many international companies and organisations have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.
- Population: 53,771,296
- Capital: Nairobi
Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).
- Population: 31,072,940
- Capital: Accra
With a population of around 216 million, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which have worsened as a result of the Covid pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to stopping irregular migration from Africa.
- Population: 206,139,589
- Capital: Abuja
The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the highest rates of population growth (on an average, women have 7 children) and is wrestling with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There were several demonstrations against the rampant corruption and bad governance in the past. However, in the 2020/21 elections, Niger for the first time successfully managed the transfer of power from one elected President to another, Mohamed Bazoum. In the past, the country had suffered numerous military coups.
- Population: 24,206,644
- Capital: Niamey