Côte d’Ivoire, officially the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire, is a country located on the south coast of West Africa and shares borders with Liberia and Guinea to the west, Ghana to the east, and Mali and Burkina Faso to the north; to the south lies the Atlantic Ocean , . The country covers an area of 322,463 km² , with 550 km of coastline . Côte d’Ivoire’s political capital is Yamoussoukro, in the centre of the country, while its economic capital and largest city is the port city of Abidjan .
Côte d’Ivoire is mainly characterised by flat plains with altitudes gradually rising to almost 500 m at the northern border. Higher mountains are only located in the west, with Mount Nimba being the country’s highest peak at 1,752 m . The southern part of the country is covered with forest due to the equatorial, hot and humid climate, while the north is made up of savannas, more or less wooded, due to the drier tropical climate. Côte d'Ivoire is irrigated by four major rivers flowing from North to South. These are Bandama, Comoé, Sassandra and Cavally .
The government of Côte d'Ivoire is composed of 32 members: 2 State secretariats, 28 ministries, a Ministry of State and a Prime Minister who is the Head of Government. At the political and administrative levels, Côte d'Ivoire has adopted a new Constitution since November 8, 2016, which replaces that of 2000, which is the fundamental law which governs the organization of the country. Its article 1 stipulates that Côte d'Ivoire is a State which recognizes human rights, freedoms, and duties. It is a free, independent, sovereign, and secular state. The regime is of the presidential type and French has been the official language since its accession to international sovereignty .
The administrative organization of the country results from the division of the territory into intermediate constituencies between the State, the districts, and the regions. The country is divided into 14 districts including 2 autonomous districts, each administered by a Governor. The regions are 31 in number, each subdivided into municipal departments, sub-prefectures, and villages .
Côte d’Ivoire’s population is estimated at 28 million in 2021, according to the first results of the fifth General Population and Housing Census (RGPH 2021) as outlined in the country’s Voluntary National Review (2022). Côte d'Ivoire is experiencing rapid demographic changes with a predominantly young population ; the median age of the population is estimated at 18.9 years (in 2020) . People under the age of 35 make up approximately 63.1% of the population and the population of working age in Côte d'Ivoire represents 62% of the total population. Thus, the country has a relatively large workforce of over 8 million (60.1% men and 39.9% women), according to the Voluntary National Review . Côte d’Ivoire is expected to continue to experience rapid population growth and the age structure will continue to be heavily biased in favour of young dependents . By 2050, the population is projected to reach over 51 million . While the country’s youth represents an asset for benefiting from the demographic dividend, it also represents a risk if the strong growth observed is not inclusive and job-creating .
Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most urbanised countries in West Africa, with more than half of its population living in cities , mainly in Abidjan . During the period 1998-2014, the urban population grew at an average annual growth rate of 2.6%. This increase in the urban population has caused overcrowding in certain large towns in the interior and in the district of Abidjan . Greater Abidjan contains about 20% of the country’s population, 80% of its formal employment, and 90% of its formal enterprises. It is currently facing metropolitan challenges that confront other major cities around the world , such as access to housing , . By 2050, it is estimated that more than two-thirds of Côte d’Ivoire’s population will live in urban centres .
As the world’s top exporter of cocoa and raw cashew nuts, a net exporter of oil, and with a significant manufacturing sector, Côte d’Ivoire is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) . The lower-middle-income country  is experiencing one of the fastest sustained economic growth rates in Sub-Saharan Africa in nearly a decade. Between 2012 and 2019, Côte d'Ivoire recorded an average real GDP growth rate of 8.2% . Additionally, due to the resilience of the Ivorian economy to external shocks, combined with the effectiveness of the country’s economic and health response plan , Côte d’Ivoire was able to successfully contain the COVID-19 pandemic and achieve a positive growth rate of 2% in 2020 , . In 2021, the Ivorian economy gradually recovered, growing at a rate of 7%, well above the 2019 rate of 6.2%. However, inflation averaged 4.2%, its highest level in 10 years, compared to 0.8% in 2019 and 2.4% in 2020, largely because of higher food prices. Further, the economy could experience slower growth and accelerated inflation owing to the impacts of the conflict in Ukraine . At the same time, the country is expected to benefit from investments and reforms in the Côte d’Ivoire 2030 Strategic Plan and the National Development Plan 2021–2025 (NDP), as well as from a more stable socio-political environment. Accordingly, growth should slow to 6.0% in 2022 before rebounding to 6.7% in 2023, driven by agriculture, industrial activity, buildings and public works, transport, commerce, tele-communications, as well as investment and consumption .
Following 25 years of rising poverty rates, the country’s sustained economic growth resulted in a decline in poverty in Côte d’Ivoire between 2011 and 2019, but incidence remains high . The poverty rate declined from 55.3% in 2011, to 44.4% in 2015 and 39.4% in 2018, according to the Harmonized Survey on Household Living Conditions (EHCVM 2018-2019) , . However, this is still much higher than other lower middle-income countries where the average poverty rate was only 12.8% in 2018 . Further, the distribution of the poor by gender shows a feminization of poverty with a proportion of 51.98% for women against 49.02% for men. Poverty is also a rural phenomenon, with a poverty rate of 54.7% in rural areas against 24.7% in urban areas . In addition, according to a report by UNDP, the number of households in Côte d’Ivoire that are considered “extremely poor” increased nearly four-fold as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on the informal sector  and small and medium-sized enterprises. In order to mitigate the negative effects of the pandemic and revive economic activity, the Government has put in place an Economic, Social and Humanitarian Support Plan, with three funds to support large companies, SMEs and the informal sector .
Over the past few years, Côte d’Ivoire’s information and communications technology (ICT) sector has consistently expanded . For instance, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Côte d'Ivoire (ARTCI), the proportion of the population using the Internet went from 12% in 2013, to 36% and 36.5% in 2016 and 2019, respectively. The penetration rate of mobile telephones in Côte d’Ivoire increased from 109% in 2015 to 143% in 2019 to stand at 149.4% in 2020 then 162% in 2021 . However, although ICT, especially the mobile sub-sector, is performing well, it has mostly benefited the affluent urban and educated population. A key challenge will be to continue the sector’s fast development, while spreading the benefits of digital technologies more widely and leveraging them to improve the productivity of society’s poorest sections to generate more, better, and inclusive jobs . The country’s first National Digital Development Strategy, adopted in December 2021, aims to help accelerate the country’s digital transformation and establish Côte d’Ivoire as a regional hub for digital transformation by 2025. Further, the National Development Plan 2021–2025 (PND) will support structural digital infrastructure investment and digital inclusion programs .
Côte d’Ivoire continues to recover from an armed conflict that ended in 2011. Several root causes of the country’s violent conflict remain, including ethnic and regional tensions, land disputes, corruption, and impunity. While civil liberties were better protected in recent years, an outbreak of election-related violence in 2020 brought significant setbacks .
Côte d'Ivoire has asserted a strong political will in the field of environmental protection , including through the ratification of the Paris Agreement and the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals . As outlined in its Voluntary National Review, the country has the ambition to set an example in terms of sustainable development and the fight against climate change. To materialize this ambition, institutional and legal frameworks have been put in place, for instance, with the creation of a Ministry in charge of the environment and sustainable development . The Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development is responsible for implementing and monitoring the government's policy on environmental protection, urban sanitation, and sustainable development. On energy, the Ministry is preparing and implementing government policy on renewable energy, development and promotion of green technologies, and the reduction of energy consumption together with the Minister of Oil and Energy . Aspects of environmental management are covered in many different laws and regulations in Côte d’Ivoire including the Environment Code, which covers environmental management and environmental impact assessment, and the Forest Code, among others . Côte d'Ivoire has also signed and ratified numerous environment-related protocols, treaties, conventions and other international agreements, in order to put in place an acceptable legal and regulatory framework .
Additionally, the preservation of the environment has been strengthened in the country’s national planning. Côte d'Ivoire’s National Development Plan 2021-2025 (PND), which constitutes the main national benchmark for development policy, revolves around six strategic development goals, including one on “balanced regional development, preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change” .
Côte d'Ivoire’s National Development Plan 2021-2025 (PND) aims to achieve the economic, cultural, and social transformation necessary to raise Côte d'Ivoire, by 2030, to the rank of upper middle-income country. The plan revolves around six pillars, namely: 1). acceleration of the structural transformation of the economy through industrialization and cluster development; 2). human capital development and promotion of employment; 3). development of the private sector and investment; 4). strengthening of inclusion, national solidarity and social action; 5). balanced regional development, preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change; and 6). strengthening of governance, modernization of the state and cultural transformation . Pillar 5, prioritising the preservation of the environment and the fight against climate change, is in strong alignment with the European Green Deal, which aims to overcome climate change and environmental degradation by transforming the European Union (EU) into a modern, resource-efficient, and competitive economy .
For the period 2021-2027, the EU aims to strengthen its partnership with Côte d'Ivoire to consolidate the country as a major sub-regional player. Through the multi-annual indicative program (MIP) and 3 "Team Europe" initiatives, the EU will support Côte d'Ivoire’s transformation in areas where there will be the greatest impact. In line with the PND 2021-2025, the MIP for Côte d’Ivoire highlights 3 priority areas for EU cooperation: (1) Develop human capital; (2) Foster inclusive, sustainable, and digital growth; and (3) Strengthen the rule of law and democratic governance, maintain the peace and stability in the country .
Priority Area 2 ‘Foster inclusive, sustainable, and digital growth’ will target three sectors: i). Business climate and sustainability of investments: aligning economic interests and development; ii). Agriculture and Food System Sustainability: supporting a transformation system for agriculture and food so that it is fair; and iii). Low-carbon transition: supporting sustained economic growth by limiting its climate impacts. The guiding principle that will unify all three sectors will be the application of the EU’s policies beyond its borders, in particular the Green Deal and the "Farm to Fork" strategy. Anchored in the priorities of the MIP, three “Team Europe” initiatives (TEI) have also been proposed for Côte d’Ivoire, namely: “Peace and Stability”; “Low Carbon Transition”; and “Sustainable Cocoa” .
Côte d'Ivoire is the leading supplier of cocoa to the EU, with duty-free and quota-free access under their Economic Partnership Agreement, and the EU is the leading customer of Ivorian cocoa (67% of Ivorian cocoa exports go to the EU) . To step up work on making cocoa more sustainable, in June 2022, the EU and Côte d’Ivoire, with Ghana and the cocoa sector, jointly endorsed an “Alliance on Sustainable Cocoa”, an ambitious roadmap to improve the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of cocoa production and trade. This Alliance will also help producing countries and the cocoa sector prepare for the implementation of the forthcoming EU legislation on deforestation and corporate sustainability due diligence. The Cocoa Talks - and the ensuing Alliance of stakeholders and roadmap - represent an example of innovative ways of working together to implement sustainable trade and development policies and turn some of the objectives of the Green Deal into reality .
Further, in October 2022, the EU and the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire concluded negotiations for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) on Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT). This Agreement will help improve forest governance, fight against illegal logging, and support Côte d’Ivoire’s efforts to improve the management of its natural resources . Côte d'Ivoire has been engaged since 2013 in the process of negotiating this agreement to fight against illegal logging .
Côte d’Ivoire is highly vulnerable to climate change, as its economy is dependent on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, livestock, aquaculture, and energy . According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change could reduce GDP across Africa by 2–4% by 2040; for Côte d’Ivoire, this would correspond to a loss of CFAF 380 billion to 770 billion (US$0.66–1.34 billion) in 2040 . Further, due to the adverse impacts of climate change, by 2030, 2 to 6% more households could slide into extreme poverty, pushing an additional 1 million people in the country into poverty. Thus, the country must take immediate action to build its resilience to environmental and climate change risks .
Côte d'Ivoire’s forests are a major asset for biodiversity and sustainable development . Yet, over the last 60 years, 90% of the forest cover has disappeared, making Côte d'Ivoire one of the countries with the highest annual rates of deforestation in Africa and the world. At current rates, there will be less than 2 million hectares of forest left in Côte d'Ivoire by 2035, and no more forest in the southern part of the country (except for protected areas). This projection is even more worrying given that, by 2035, the country’s population could exceed 37 million inhabitants . Soon, Côte d’Ivoire’s forests will be unable to fulfil their ecosystem functions, threatening the economic value of the country’s agricultural sector and putting the livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers at risk . This rapid decline in forest cover is largely due to the expansion of cash crops in the country, notably cocoa, but also rubber, coffee, cashew, and palm oil plantations .
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