Cote d'Ivoire Is Doing Just Fine Without Its Spurned Dictator, Thank You Very Much

Like the heroine in the film “He’s Just Not That Into You”, former Cote d’Ivoire President Laurent Gbagbo couldn’t comprehend why his countrymen voted him out of office in 2010. He stubbornly refused to leave, sparking five months of violence. Now he awaits trial by the International Criminal Court from a small prison cell in The Hague. And, again like the rejected heroine, his country has most definitely moved on.

Since 2012, the Ivorian economy has expanded at a blistering annual pace of 9 percent. Current President Alassane Ouattara, a former deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund, has been announcing infrastructure mega-projects on what seems an almost-monthly basis. Private investment reached US$ 1.65 billion in 2014 – up 28 percent year-on-year, and the interest is global. South Korean and French companies are building a US$ 1 billion commuter train in Abidjan, the commercial capital. A Tunisian company completed a major highway extension, and a Kuwaiti firm now handles airport logistics. And in early October, a Chinese company began construction on an expansion of Abidjan’s main port, among the busiest in sub-Saharan Africa.

The government has mapped out a US$ 25 billion spending plan for 155 infrastructure and energy projects over the next five years, half of which will be public-private partnerships. ‘Big infrastructure’ has become the preferred formula for success amongst West Africa’s ruling parties, and looks set to keep Ouattara in good stead as well.

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