Interview: Emmanuel Esmel Essis
What have been the results of the 2012 Investment Law, and has it facilitated job growth?
EMMANUEL ESMEL ESSIS: From 2012-15, CFA1.83trn (€2.7bn) has been registered through the Investment Law at the Investment Promotion Agency of Côte d’Ivoire (Centre de Promotion des Investissements en Côte d’Ivoire, CEPICI) which represents 83% of the expected total under the Strategic Plan for the Promotion of Investment 2012-15. The number of new jobs generated by this flow of investment is estimated at 20,386, 95% of which involve locals. The incentives provided by the law have allowed for a significant increase in national private investment, which represents 41% of the first phase of the National Development Plan (Plan National de Développement, PND). The sectors posting the highest share of investments are services (25%), agro-industry and industry (16%), information and communications technology (13%), construction and public works (11%), and livestock and fishery (9%).
What are the major concerns expressed by investors coming to Côte d’Ivoire?
ESSIS: One of the main concerns for investors is the protection of their investment and their ability to repatriate financial profits, followed by the ease of doing business – which includes the procedures to establish a company, acquire land, acquire building permits and so on. The availability of basic infrastructure, factors of production and their cost, and the tax framework Customs are also elements that have a decisive impact on investor choice of location. The quality of human resources, cultural similarities, political and social stability, and security are also important factors considered.
In this regard, the government has been seeking to improve the business environment through operational measures – by facilitating formalities, processes and financing – and through legislative measures to better regulate the business environment. The Investment Law has also been strengthened to provide fiscal and Customs incentives to allow companies to firmly establish themselves and become competitive. Depending on their level of investment, companies can benefit from exemptions of up to 50% on Customs Duties, 100% on value-added tax, and 25-100% on property income taxes for at least five years. A cost reduction of 50% for water and electricity bills is expected for small and medium-sized enterprises established outside of Abidjan, in zones B and C. This law also authorises the repatriation of capital gains on investment. Since 2013 more than 50 reforms have been implemented, helping the country climb 35 places on the World Bank’s “Doing Business” report, as well as being admitted into the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Compact Programme.
Upcoming reforms, such as the dematerialisation of public services and our intention to improve security, display our ambition to facilitate doing business in Côte d’Ivoire. Moreover, in 2012 the CEPICI was restructured as a single window for investment, acting as a tool to regroup and coordinate all government activities seeking to facilitate investment.
How can value addition be increased?
ESSIS: The PND 2016-20 puts an emphasis on the structural transformation of the economy through its industrialisation and the development of the services sector. Consequently, an industrial policy has been formulated to create value and jobs by strengthening the link between production and processing, and developing new industrial development centres.
It will be based on five pillars as follows; the development of the value chain of key sectors related to agro-industry; the densification and development of structural industries, such as chemicals and plastic; the consolidation of mineral processing strategies in line with the development of the mining sector; the development of non-food consumption industries, such as pharmaceuticals and cosmetics; and the repositioning and development of light manufacturing industries.
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