Bloomberg News

IMF to Lend Ivory Coast $614 Million Amid ‘Faster’ Recovery

September 15, 2011

(Updates with comment from Ross in second paragraph.)

Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- The International Monetary Fund will give Ivory Coast, the West African nation emerging from a violent political crisis, a loan of $614 million under the lender’s extended-credit facility program, according to a statement.

The money, which may be approved by the Washington-based bank’s board in early November, comes as the economy of the world’s biggest cocoa producer recovers “faster than expected,” Doris Ross, the head of the IMF’s mission in Ivory Coast, told reporters in Abidjan today, where the statement was distributed.

Gross domestic product will probably contract 5.8 percent this year, Ross said, after the crisis that lasted for almost five months crippled the country’s economy. Exports of cocoa and coffee stopped, most banks closed their branches and consumers stayed home amid curfews that were enacted after Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to Alassane Ouattara following a November presidential election. As many as 3,000 people were killed in clashes, according to the International Criminal Court.

The economy is expected to “move into an expansion phase in 2012, growing by 8 to 9 percent,” Ross said. Growth is forecast at about 6 percent for 2013 and 2014, she said.

Ivory Coast’s administration, led by Ouattara since his inauguration in May, needs to implement planned economic reforms, ensure “continued improvement” in the country’s security situation and hold “successful” parliamentary elections, Ross said.

Cocoa-industry changes are also needed to enable Ivory Coast to reach the so-called completion point of the IMF’s Heavily Indebted Poor Country relief program. Last year, the lender said the slow pace of cocoa reforms was stalling the country’s eligibility for $3 billion in debt relief.

The World Bank pledged $150 million in budget support for Ivory Coast, as well as a $50 million grant for youth employment, Emmanuel N. Gankam, the lender’s official in charge of operations, said in Abidjan today.

--Editors: Emily Bowers, Nasreen Seria.

To contact the reporter on this story: Olivier Monnier in Abidjan via Accra at ebowers1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Emily Bowers at ebowers1@bloomberg.net


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