ETIQUETTE: Business etiquette is similar to France. A handshake is appropriate for both men and women upon first meeting someone new. Once a woman meets someone for the second time, three kisses on the cheek, just as in some regions in France, is appropriate. Before discussing business, it is considered polite to break the ice by discussing family, health, or the weather.
HEALTH: In public hospitals, waiting times can be long, but there are many to choose from in Abidjan, though complicated surgical procedures are best carried out outside of Côte d’Ivoire if possible. There are also a few private clinics in Abidjan that provide health care at international standards.
RELIGION: Muslims make up roughly 39% of the population, while Christians (mostly Roman Catholics) make up around 33%. The remainder follow indigenous religions (12%) or have no religion (7%).
CURRENCY: Côte d’Ivoire has used the West African Communauté Financière d’Afrique (CFA) franc since 1945, with the CFA franc (code: XOF) linked directly to the French Treasury. Via this mechanism it is pegged to the euro at the fixed rate of €1:CFA655.957.
ELECTRICITY: Côte d’Ivoire uses a 220-V, 50-Hz electricity network. European two-pin plugs, without ground pin, are most widely used. Modern buildings are equipped with European three-pin plugs.
TRANSPORT: People generally get around with privately owned cars, but taxis are ubiquitous throughout the day and even in some neighbourhoods late at night. They are easy to flag down and can either be shared with other passengers, as is the case with yellow cabs, or rented for an individual ride, as with the red cars. Rates vary from CFA100 (€0.15) for a short journey, to CFA3000 (€4.50) for a long night-time itinerary crossing much of the city. Private taxis can generally be found at the high-end hotels, and minibus services are available for the intrepid traveller. Inter-city transportation is mostly done by train, plane, car or bus for those willing to rough it, though this is not recommended given the security situation beyond Abidjan in other areas.
COMMUNICATIONS: The international dialling code for Côte d’Ivoire is 0225. The country currently has six mobile operators, and prices have fallen in recent years, though the quality of the network has room for improvement. 3G services became available in 2012, and wireless connections are mostly only available in hotels.
BUSINESS HOURS: Côte d’Ivoire follows a “continuous working day” policy, which means that business hours run from around 8.00am to 4.00pm. Lunch is generally between noon and 2.00pm. As for the private sector, working days follow regular European hours with later closing times, especially for foreign firms.
VISAS: Most visitors to the country must obtain a visa in advance, and this is best done in the visitor’s country of residence. Tourism visa requests can be lengthy, although business visas require an invitation of a Côte d’Ivoire-based entity and in some cases proof of employment. Business visas are generally multi-entry and last 90 days, but can be granted for a one-year period. Foreigners residing in the country typically have a residence permit obtained via their employer.
SECURITY: Travellers should take necessary precautions, especially at night. Abidjan is the most secure part of the country, and movement during daylight hours is safe and checkpoints a rarity. Visitors in nice cars should watch out for pedestrians who may try to provoke an accident by jumping in front of a moving vehicle, and daylight muggings are not unheard of. At night, however, it is best to stay within a moving vehicle, as stopping at quiet red lights or for apparent accidents in unlit areas can sometimes lead to an ambush, but by using common sense these situations can easily be avoided.
Travelling between different cities by car can be very dangerous at night and is not recommended. For faroff destinations from Abidjan within the country, it is advised to travel in a convoy by day, though closer places such as Assinie, Grand Bassam and Yamoussoukro can be reached in relative safety in a single car during the day and early evening hours, the only problem being the scarcity of cars on the road later at night.
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