On a flight back to West Africa yesterday I picked up a free copy of ‘The Africa Report’ magazine, and was interested to read a two page advert taken out by the Centre for Promoting Investments in Cote d’Ivoire(CEPICI). These sorts of adverts are very common in magazines like AR and Jeune Afrique, with even some of the most tinpot countries promoting the dazzling investment opportunities available in their country with pictures of bridges, dams and ports. In general, I would have liked to see more precise fact-based promotion rather than rather vague comments like ‘Cote d’Ivoire has competitive ports’ or ‘Cote d’Ivoire, the world’s leading cocoa bean producer, processes some of its output’.
What did catch my eye though was the following comment: “In the food industry, the goal is to process 65% of cocoa (35% today) and 100% of cashew nuts (14% today) by 2016.” Regular readers will know I like to keep track of these targets, which seem to always promise something just over the horizon (but fortunately almost no-one notices when the horizons get pushed back). This is the first time I’ve seen the 65% target – until very recently the target has focused on ‘half the crop’. I also don’t think you need to know anything about Cote d’Ivoire to know that for a country to go from processing 35% of a 1.5 million ton crop to 65% in the space of 12 months, or for the world’s second biggest cashew nut exporter to go from 14% processing to 100% in 12 months requires a massive leap forward.
As far as I can see there’s no such policy/investment in place for a giant leap. If the figures change by more than 5% percentage points in the next 12 months I’ll be surprised. For regular Cote d’Ivoire watchers, it looks like the advertisement is playing a bit fast and loose with what’s realistic. I suppose for most though, it will just look impressive.