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Côte d'Ivoire Country Report

Country Risk Level

High

Overview

Executive Summary

President Alassane Ouattara has unified his party but has also given the opposition a rallying point and inspiration by declaring on 6 August 2020 that he would stand for a third term in the election on 31 October. Ouattara had rejected the idea in March, but claimed “force majeure” after the death on 8 July of intended successor, Prime Minister Amadou Gon Coulibaly. The perceived illegitimacy of his move will drive a series of large anti-government protests leading up to the vote. Former Forces Nouvelles rebel leader Guillaume Soro is likely to play little effective part in the presidential election, after he was sentenced in absentia to 20 years for embezzlement on 28 April. Soro was already in exile after an aborted return in December 2019 and the Constitutional Court confirmed on 14 September that his candidacy had not been accepted.The Ivorian government is likely to prevent former president Laurent Gbagbo returning until well after the election, even though the International Criminal Court granted his provisional release on 29 May. Blocking Gbagbo’s return has provoked protests, particularly in Abidjan, from his supporters, but the government has not wanted to permit him to play a key electoral role. The immediate impact of the COVID-19 virus outbreak has been mitigated by rapid border closures and restrictions placed on freedom of movement. Business activities will be boosted by the situation being controlled enough for international flights to resume on 1 July and movement restrictions in commercial capital Abidjan to be lifted on 15 July. Political normalisation, an improved business environment, a sound programme of reforms, and supportive fiscal policy have contributed to the country's strong economic performance since 2012. However, IHS Markit's pre-COVID forecasts of 5.9% GDP growth for both 2020 and 2021 have been revised down to a contraction of 1.3% in 2020 and then a recovery to 5.2% in 2021.

Operational Outlook

Strike risks are dominated by the public sector, although they are rarely extensive or prolonged enough to cause any more widespread effects. The government has agreed to pay public-sector wage arrears over a prolonged period, in a bid to prevent large-scale strikes, although stoppages will continue to take place when payments are delayed, or over more minor issues such as allowances. Some reductions in levels of corruption have been achieved, although endemic racketeering by security forces can affect business operations. Former militant generals are likely to retain some control over artisanal mining, which can also cause disruption for commercial enterprises located nearby.

Terrorism

High

An assault against a military post in Kafolo on 11 June, which left 10 soldiers dead, was the first terrorist attack since the targeting of Grand Bassam in March 2016. Further attacks on military establishments in the north are likely, although efforts to improve government-community relations will help prevent infiltration by Islamist groups. Hit-and-run attacks like in Grand Bassam in the south are less likely, though a foiled plot to target an Abidjan hotel in 2019 indicates such assaults are still being planned. The risk in Abidjan is likely to rise around the presidential election in late 2020 when the authorities and security forces focus on organising and policing the polls.

Crime

Much of the most serious and organised crime in Côte d’Ivoire is carried out or controlled by former warlords from the rebel Forces Nouvelles, who are now mostly integrated into the national army. They still control networks involved in smuggling of cocoa beans and diamonds, as well as arms trafficking. Former combatants from the most recent post-election conflict and earlier are involved in highway robberies, particularly in northern and volatile western areas, sometimes shooting at vehicles to make them stop. The proliferation of weapons has also driven a rise in violent crime in the commercial capital Abidjan, but most of the city's districts remain relatively safe.

War Risks

Government claims in December 2019 of an alleged coup attempt by presidential candidate and ex-rebel leader Guillaume Soro, as well as recurrent mutinies during 2017, underscored deep-seated divisions within the armed forces. These continue to threaten long-term stability, particularly leading up to the 2020 presidential election now that President Ouattara will stand again. Ouattara has taken greater personal control of military spending, and promoted several former rebels to senior posts to neutralise their influence elsewhere, although this does not eliminate their capacity to intervene in the event of a disputed poll outcome. Côte d'Ivoire accepted amicably the September 2017 settlement of a maritime border dispute, which saw Ghana's case largely upheld.

Social Stability

The scale and violence of political protests are likely to increase prior to the presidential election in late 2020 when a resurgent opposition has the ability to take power. Demonstrations will be motivated by opposition to a third term for President Alassane Ouattara, with further grievances over a reconstituted electoral commission, as well as the failure to widely distribute voters’ identity cards needed to participate in the election and the continued detention of political prisoners. Public health initiatives to slow the spread of COVID-19 have been poorly communicated and will likely result in low-level clashes between protesters and the police until the virus is fully contained.

Health Risk

Vaccines required to enter the country

Yellow fever: A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for all travelers over nine months of age upon entry to the country. A single dose of YF vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained life-long immunity against the disease; it should be taken ten days in advance to be fully effective.

Vaccines recommended for all travelers

Routine vaccinations: Consult your doctor to ensure all routine vaccinations - such as for diphtheria, tetanus, polio, tuberculosis, influenza, measles, mumps, pertussis, rubella, varicella, etc. - are up to date (include booster shots if necessary).

Vaccines recommended for most travelers

Hepatitis A: The vaccine is given in two doses, six months apart, and is nearly 100 percent effective. The WHO recommends the vaccine be integrated into national routine immunization schedules for children aged one year or older.

Malaria: There is currently no malaria vaccine. However, various antimalarial prophylactics are available by prescription and can reduce risk of infection by up to 90 percent. Different medications are prescribed depending on the risk level and the strains of the virus present in the destination. Antimalarial tablets need to be taken throughout the trip to be effective and may need to be taken for as long as four weeks following the trip.

Typhoid fever: The typhoid fever vaccine can be administered via injection (administered in one dose) or orally (four doses). The vaccine is only 50-80 percent effective, so travelers to areas with a risk of exposure to typhoid fever, a bacterial disease, should also take hygienic precautions (e.g. drink only bottled water, avoid undercooked foods, wash hands regularly, etc.). Children can be given the shot beginning at two years of age (six for the oral vaccine).

Vaccines recommended for some travelers

Hepatitis B: The WHO recommends that all infants receive their first dose of vaccine as soon as possible after birth, preferably within 24 hours. The birth dose should be followed by two or three doses to complete the primary series. Routine booster doses are not routinely recommended for any age group.

Meningococcal meningitis: There are several types of meningococcal vaccines. None offer full immunity and some require periodic booster shots. Consult your doctor to determine which is best for you depending on medical history and travel plans.

Rabies: The rabies vaccination is typically only recommended for travel to remote areas and if the traveler will be at high risk of exposure (e.g. undertaking activities that will bring them into contact with dogs, cats, bats, or other mammals). The vaccination is administered in three doses over a three-to-four week period. Post exposure prophylaxis is also available and should be administered as soon as possible following contact with an animal suspected of being infected (e.g. bites and scratches).

Natural Risks

Poor weather conditions - such as torrential rain and consequent flooding is observed in the south, especially in Abidjan, particularly during the rainy season (May to November) - can disrupt travel to, from, and within the country. Torrential rains resulted in several deaths and serious damage in Abidjan in May 2017. Summer rains often result in flooding (e.g. along the banks of the Bandama River), mudslides, and road closures, particularly in the south of the country. During periods of heavy rain, is it advisable to avoid poorer neighborhoods where inadequate construction standards put building occupants at risk.

From November to March, the Harmattan wind emanating from the Western Sahara blows through the country, carrying with it large amounts of dust, which can lead to severe air traffic disruptions and respiratory issues.

Transportation

The road network remains unstable in Côte d'Ivoire despite intense infrastructures development programs; only 10 percent of all roads are paved. Driving habits are erratic and the lack of street lighting and standard ambulance/emergency medical services in rural areas increase risks related to road travel.

According to American consular authorities, several foreign nationals have been targeted in particularly violent attacked in 2015 as they were traveling on major thoroughfares outside Abidjan. This sort of attack tends to increase in likelihood after nightfall and on market days.

In rural and secluded areas, travel by night should be limited. It is best to travel in a convoy made up of at least two vehicles. Additionally, in the event of a car accident resulting in bodily damage, it is advised to go directly to the nearest police station instead of staying at the scene to avoid hostile behavior by locals.

Practical Information

Climate

In the south of the country, below the horizontal line passing through Yamoussoukro, the climate is equatorial and very wet. The rainy season extends from May until November with a bit of a respite around July and August. The rest of the year conditions continue to be humid, with overcast skies and rain not uncommon; temperatures during this period remain stable, between 29°C and 32°C. The climate is more tropical in the north of the country, with a fairly intense rainy season lasting from May until September.

The most pleasant time to visit the Ivory Coast is between November and March when the country enjoys blue skies, drier conditions, and cooler nights. The Harmattan, a wind from the Sahara, blows, sometimes strongly, across the country, bringing with it drier and dustier conditions.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +225
in Abidjan  
Police Headquarters: 20 22 08 22
Central Police Station: 20 21 00 22 / 20 22 42 27 / 20 21 77 92
Gendarmerie: 20 21 88 83
Reanimation: 185
UAS Abidjan: 22 44 31 47 / 22 44 44 45
in Yamoussoukro  
Police Station: 30 64 11 63 / 30 64 00 24
Gendarmerie: 30 64 00 22
Hospital (C.H.R.): 30 64 00 33

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Risk Level
Critical High Medium Low Minimal