ABIDJAN — Five years after rejecting its initial bid, the Millennium Challenge Corporation last month approved a $525 million compact to Côte d’Ivoire. The compact aims to promote economic development by investing in the country’s secondary education system and transportation networks.
With an additional government investment of $22 million, the compact is expected to benefit more than 11 million Ivorians, part of an effort by the country’s leadership to diversify the economy and build human capital. Economic growth rates, despite being among the highest on the continent — an average of 9 percent gross domestic product growth annually over recent years — have been stifled by a continued reliance on raw commodities.
The turnaround from rejection to approval follows a major reform effort aimed at meeting the MCC’s stringent investment criteria. Côte d’Ivoire has been climbing an upward path toward development since 2012, attracting varied foreign direct investments alongside its strong economic growth. Political tensions also remain relatively calm, although high unemployment rates mean that internal frustrations persist.
As part of the country’s 2016-2020 National Development Plan, President Alassane Ouattara outlined ways to diversify the economy, improve the quality of institutions, increase local population capacity, and adjust production and consumption patterns to forge an emergent economy. David Weld, the MCC country team leader who oversaw the development of the Ivorian MCC compact, said the country’s long-term vision — including developing environmentally sound strategic infrastructure and inserting itself into the region’s global trade network — were some of the key factors in getting the investment approval.