f_0019844_16914

f_0019844_16914 - Ivoirian Citizenship Issues and the Price...

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Fall 2010 The Ambassadors REVIEW 26 Ivoirian Citizenship Issues and the ® in a Global Economy Wanda L. Nesbitt * United States Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, 2007-2010 ôte d’Ivoire supplies 40 percent of the world’s cocoa, and due to its unique climactic conditions, industry experts see no viable alternative to this critical source of raw material. The quality and quantity of the country’s cocoa production have declined in recent years, raising concern among international cocoa and chocolate companies about the potential negative effect on the world cocoa market. Political uncertainties have compounded the problem. Reforms needed to reinvigorate the sector are unlikely to be taken until after elections, currently scheduled for October 31, 2010. Major improvements are not expected in the short term. The good news, however, is that production and quality could turn around rapidly if appropriate reforms are implemented after the election and a concerted effort is made by the new government to remove barriers to fresh investment. The Role of Cocoa in the Ivoirian Political Setting Cocoa revenue underpinned the Ivoirian “miracle” that made Abidjan the most impressive capital in West Africa for much of the 1970s and 1980s. Under the country’s first President, Félix Houphouët-Boigny, cocoa revenue helped pay for major infra- structure projects and finance an education system that was the envy of the region. Cocoa production moved westward as the forest belt degraded, and it is now concentrated in the southwestern part of the country on approximately 700,000 family farms that average 10-17 acres (4-7 hectares) in size. The vast majority of cocoa farmers are either immigrants from neighboring countries (primarily Burkina Faso) or Ivoirians from the eastern part of the country who moved west along with optimal growing conditions. Both groups are perceived as “foreigners” by ethnic groups native to the region (autochtones), who feel that they have lost control over their land. The cocoa farmers were followed by family members, traders, etc., resulting in a situation where the autochtones * Editor’s Note : On July 21, 2010, President Obama nominated Wanda L. Nesbitt to be the next United States Ambassador to Namibia. As The REVIEW went to press, Ambassador Nesbitt’s appointment was pending Senate confirmation. C Source : The World Factbook, 2010.
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Fall 2010 The Ambassadors REVIEW 27 now number as little as 10-20 percent of the population in some cocoa growing zones. Thus while the economic benefits of the cocoa trade are fully appreciated, the social and political side effects have encouraged support for a restrictive approach to issues such as citizenship and land ownership. This has had an important effect on the overall political climate. Ivoirian President Laurent Gbagbo comes from the cocoa growing region (Gagnoa)
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f_0019844_16914 - Ivoirian Citizenship Issues and the Price...

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