An International Forum for Investments in Côte d'Ivoire (ICI) 2014, which brought together over 3,000 investors across the globe is underway in Abidjan.
The four day Forum and Exhibition Show is on the theme, “Private sector, lever of a successful regional integration”, with the main focus on agribusiness, economics, infrastructure development, public-private partnership, promotion of small and medium enterprises, renewable energy and sustainable development.
Among the dignitaries, who graced the opening ceremony were: Vice President Kwesi Bekoe Amissah-Arthur of Ghana, Mr Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance of Côte d’Ivoire, Mr Mohammed Namadi Sambo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Luc-Adolphe Tiao, Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, and captains of industries.
Other members of Ghana’s delegation were Mr Edwin Nii Lante Vanderpuye, Deputy Minister of Trade and Industry, Mr Gideon Quarcoo, Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ghana Export Promotion Authority and Mr. J. Asare-Adjei, President of the Ghana Association of Industries.
Prime Minister Duncan in his opening address on Wednesday said Côte d’Ivoire was back on the international diplomatic and economic stage and intends to play its leading role in the West African regional growth.
He said Cote d’Ivoire was now looking forward to becoming an emerging economy in the West Africa sub-region, adding that, they have adopted the Economic Community of West African States protocol on free movement of goods and persons, good governance and democracy.
He said Cote d'Ivoire's national development plan 2012-2015 gives room to the private sector and the creation of jobs for the youth. Prime Minister Duncan said the national development plan also lays emphasis on areas such as education, agriculture, and health, and aims at improving peace, stability and democracy.
He said ICI 2014 was the fourth edition after a 15 year break and appealed to investors to invest in Côte d’Ivoire. Vice President Sambo of Nigeria, who was the Guest Speaker, said there was the need for the Lagos-Abidjan railway line project that links Lagos, Cotonou, Lome, Accra and Abidjan to be carried out in order to facilitate the smooth movement of people and goods.
He said the ICI 2014 provides the necessary platform for investors in the sub-region, adding that, “The train is moving in Cote d’Ivoire and don’t allow yourself to be left at the station”.
Mrs Christine Lagarde, President of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in a televised address to the forum said ICI 2014 was a sign of greater transformation in Cote d’Ivoire; commending the government of President Alassane Ouattara for their efforts.
She pledged the IMF’s continued support for Cote d’Ivoire towards achieving its developmental agenda. She said for a nation to achieve its development target, it must avoid non-essential expenses, fight against corruption, practice prudent borrowing, and must tackle the issue of job creation for the youth seriously.
She announced that the IMF would be organizing an African Conference in May this year in Maputo, Mozambique to study the challenges facing African countries and the way forward.
Mr Makhtar Diop, Word Bank Vice President for Africa Region said this year, the Bank would double its assistance to emerging economics such as Cote d’Ivoire by 50 per cent. Mr Donlad Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank said the Bank just returned to its Headquarters in Abidjan because of the peaceful that had returned to the country.
He urged African countries to take security, quality of public service and a good legal system very seriously, declaring that “this is what makes the difference”. He commended Ghana and Nigeria for involving the private sector in energy generation.
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