Progress for a new gen­er­a­tion

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The 12th Mo Ibrahim Fo­rum was held in Abid­jan from 5 to 7 April, as if in recog­ni­tion of Côte d’ivoire hav­ing achieved, in ten years, the con­ti­nent’s most sig­nif­i­cant progress in the Ibrahim In­dex of African Gov­er­nance (IIAG). The theme of this year’s edi­tion, “African youth, mi­gra­tion and jobs”, was also an opportunit­y for the coun­try to high­light the gov­ern­ment re­forms un­der­taken in re­cent years for this very rea­son: to of­fer Côte d’ivoire’s young people bet­ter prospects.

How to turn a cri­sis into an opportunit­y

The ob­ser­va­tion is com­pelling :80% of African mi grants base their de­ci­sion on the lack of jobs and a nun favour able eco­nomic en­vi­ron­ment. This is one of the many sta­tis­tics re­vealed at the Mo Ibrahim Fo­rum, which took place in Abid­jan in early April.

This 12th edi­tion of the Fo­rum focused on the is­sue of African mi­gra­tion and was at­tended by more than 1,200 people. It mo­bilised African ex­per t s and politi­cians who, for three days, chan­nelled their ef­forts and ex­per­tise into iden­tif ying the causes of a cri­sis which Mo Ibrahim him­self be­lieves can be seen as “an opportunit­y to be seized”. For this to hap­pen, the lead­ers of each countr y have to “guarantee their own cit­i­zens the ed­u­ca­tion and op­por tu­ni­ties they deser ve, be­fore it is too late”.

In this re­gard, many speak­ers re­peat­edly re­it­er­ated the need to “in­vest more in hu­man cap­i­tal, es­pe­cially health and ed­u­ca­tion”.

T he mess age was hear d loud and clear in Côte d’ivoire, where pub­lic au­thor­i­ties are al­ready ahead of the game, not wait­ing for the Fo­rum’s con­clu­sions to take ac­tion.

Dur ing the dis cus sions , A bdour ah­mane Cissé, Min­is­ter of Pe­tro­leum and En­ergy, re­viewed the many ef­for ts made by his countr y to put i n pl ace the nece s s ar y tool s f or t he in­te­gra­tion of the younger gen­er­a­tions into the labour mar­ket, in­clud­ing, first and fore­most, vo­ca­tional train­ing.

Im­prov­ing the ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem

Through its de­cen­tral­i­sa­tion pol­icy, in­tro­duced in 2012, Côte d’ivoire has made sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ments in ed­u­ca­tional f acil­i­ties across the countr y. While uni­ver­si­ties are cov­ered by a spe­cific 18 0 bil­lion CFA fr anc progr amme, the en­tire school sys­tem has un­der­gone ex tensi ve devel­op­ment.

For ex­am­ple, there are cur rently 15 spe­cial­ist tech­ni­cal ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions. How­ever this num­ber is set to in­crease to 3 8 by 2 020. To do this, the pub­lic au­thor ities have ear­marked a bud­get of 133 bil­lion CFA francs, once again illustrati­ng their de­sire to im­prove the vo­ca­tional train­ing of young people in or der to boost their employ ment po­ten­tial . In sup­por t of this process, the gover nment has al so de­cided to in­vest in fos­ter­ing ac­cess to fir st jobs, through v ar ious t ax in­centi ves and the in­tro­duc tion of in­ter nships for young gr ad­u­ates.


How­ever, its at­ten­tion is also focused on ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion, in pri­mary and sec­ondary school s, with the build­ing of new ju­nior and se­nior high schools. This proac­tive pol­icy has rapidly proved suc­cess­ful, with the en­rol­ment r ate for chil­dren aged 6 to 16 ex­ceed­ing 95% since 2015, com­pared with less than 75% ten year s ear lier.

In­dus­try, a real source of jobs

To create jobs for this grow­ing and in­creas­ingly skilled young pop­u­la­tion, the Ivo­rian gov­ern­ment is set on in­dus­tri­al­is­ing the countr y’s econ­omy, es­pe­cially in the area of agri­cul­ture. “We must at­tract our young people to the agri­cul­tural sec­tor in or­der to create a new class of agro-en­trepreneur­s,” stressed Ak­in­wumi Adesina, Pres­i­dent of the African Devel­op­ment Bank (AFDB), in Abid­jan.

Here again, Côte d’ivoire is al­ready aware that lo­cal pro­cess­ing of its nat­u­ral re­sources is the only way to se­cure an in­dus­trial fu­ture, a source of jobs for the pop­u­la­tion and added value for pri­vate com­pa­nies. Agribusi­ness alone ac­counts for three-quar­ters of the Ivo­rian manufactur­ing sec­tor, led by the co­coa sec­tor which lo­cally pro­cesses 30% of its ex­ported vol­umes. Al­though still far from the 50% tar­geted in the 2016-2020 National Devel­op­ment Plan (NDP), new tax in­cen­tives are ex­pected to be adopted soon to en­cour­age the lo­cal pro­cess­ing of co­coa beans.

Despite be­ing Africa’s largest cashew nut pro­ducer, Côte d’i voire s till only pro­cesses just 10% of the 800,000 tons of cashew nuts it pro­duces each year, spurring the gov­ern­ment to take a closer look at the sec­tor, par­tic­u­larly as it al­ready em­ploys 225,000 people. The plas­tic, chem­i­cal and leather sec­tors are also sig­nif­i­cant sources of em­ploy­ment, along­side the many other pri­mary and ter­tiary ac­tiv­i­ties that make the Ivo­rian econ­omy one of the most di­ver­si­fied in West Africa to­day.

Lo­cal con­tent is the way for­ward

Côte d’ivoire has es­tab­lished a sound em­ploy­ment pol­icy strat­egy, de­tailed in its national plan pre­sented in 2016. It aims to create 200,000 jobs per year by 2020, es­pe­cially among par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble groups such as women and young people. Pre-empt­ing the find­ings of the Abid­jan Fo­rum, the National Em­ploy­ment Pol­icy (NEP) pro­vides for im­prov­ing the cor­re­la­tion be­tween sup­ply and de­mand re­flected in the labour mar­ket, and for stream­lin­ing the in­sti­tu­tional frame­work and labour leg­is­la­tion to fur­ther sup­port eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity.

The doc­u­ment also in­cludes im­prove­ments to the national sta­tis­ti­cal sys­tem to fa­cil­i­tate a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of events. The Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in its re­por t, also points out that not only is there a gen­eral lack of re­li­able data available on the con­ti­nent, but that it is of­ten in­com­plete and leads to mis­per­cep­tions that re­strict the ap­pli­ca­tion of pre­scribed poli­cies.


The NEP has en­sured that this does not hap­pen in Côte d’ivoire and the countr y has al­ready ful­filled some of its prom­ises in sup­port of youth em­ploy­ment, star ting with the es­tab­lish­ment of a Youth Em­ploy­ment Agency (YEA) in 2016. It op­er­ates as a one-stop shop, with the added bonus of tax in­cen­tives, with­out re­sor ting to giv­ing pri­or­ity to cit­i­zens, which is what many other African coun­tries have done.

Over the past year, the Ivo­rian gov­ern­ment has been con­sid­er­ing in­tro­duc­ing quo­tas reser ved for lo­cal min­ing in­dustr y work­ers. This trial could then be ex­tended to other sec­tors and cover all ma­jor cur­rent or fu­ture large-scale projects in the countr y. In ad­di­tion to di­rectly re­cruit­ing a national work­force, lo­cal con­tent con­trib­utes to the set­ting up and op­er­a­tion of Ivo­rian SMES, in­creas­ing tech­nol­ogy trans­fers and de­vel­op­ing work­force skills. It is now seen by in­ter­na­tional ex­perts as the es­sen­tial tool for fos­ter­ing in­clu­sive growth in a countr y.

Growth and trans­parency

T he gover nment of Côte d’i v oir e is well aware that, in terms of growth and trans­parency, it still has a long way to go. The countr y’s ro­bust grow th r ates of re­cent years – more than 8% on av­er­age – have not been enough to lift a broad seg­ment of the pop­u­la­tion out of pover ty, a prob­lem faced by ever y countr y on the con­ti­nent. To meet the challenge of pover ty reduction, the gov­ern­ment adopted its Pri­or­ity Ac­tion Plan (PAP) to fight pover ty in early 2018.

This mech­a­nism re­in­forces the many others that have en­abled Côte d’ivoire to now post the best progress in the Ibrahim In­dex of African Gov­er­nance (IIAG). The coun­try ranked 22 nd in 2018, up from 41st ten years ear­lier, hav­ing suc­ceeded in im­prov­ing its scores in each of the four cat­e­gories of the in­dex: Safety& Rule of Law, Par­tic­i­pa­tion and Hu­man Rights, Sus­tain­able Eco­nomic Opportunit­y and Hu­man Devel­op­ment.

It is in terms of trans­parency, demo­cratic par tic­i­pa­tion and ed­u­ca­tional and health poli­cies that Côte d’ivoire’s scores have made the most progress in ten years. “A ver y pos­i­tive out­come,” s aid the Mo Ibr ahim Foundation in its con­clu­sions. This is ex­pected to fur ther strengthen Côte d’i voire’s at tr ac ti ve­ness to pri­vate in­vestors who will create the Ivo­rian jobs of to­mor­row.


≥ A co­coa paste manufactur­ing plant.

≥ The Cas­tel bot tling pl ant.

< In 2016, a one-stop Youth Em­ploy­ment Agenc y ( YE A) was es­tab­lished.

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