Economicdevelopment in Côte d’Ivoire
Manycountries, especially in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East hasexperienced difficulties in increasing their economic development andovercome the poverty trap. Côte d’Ivoire is among the Africancountries that with high levels of poverty. Côte D’Ivoire islocated in West Africa, with a population size of 20.32 millionpeople, and a GDP per capita of $ 3,506. Similar to the majority ofother African countries, Côte d’Ivoire, has failed to achieve asignificant economic growth which has resulted in close to half thepopulation living at or below the poverty line (World Bank Group 1).This report will analyze the key factors that have prevented Côted’Ivoire from getting out of the poverty trap and makerecommendations that the government should implement to facilitateeconomic growth and reduce poverty levels.
Factorsthat have contributed to underdevelopment in Côte d’Ivoir
Enrollmentin primary, secondary, and tertiary institution
Educationis considered as among the key factors that determine the economic,social, and political development of any country, given the fact thatit enhances the intellectual capacity of the stakeholders in thethree areas. In the case of Côte d’Ivoire, the country has anextremely low record of gross and net enrollment from primary totertiary levels of education. For example, the country has a netenrollment in primary school of about 77 % for both sexes, grossenrollment in secondary schools is 39 %, and 9 % in tertiary level(World Bank Group 1). A combination of these factors indicates thatthe educational attainment continues to decrease with the level ofeducation. This implies that the country supplies more than 91 % ofthe labor force without the tertiary education into its economy eachyear. Therefore, the majority of the people available for employmentand self-employment are either semi-skilled or unskilled, which makehas held the country back in terms of economic development. Inaddition, the lack of adequate training of the labor force that isreleased into the economy has reduced the country’s ability tocompete at the international level due to lack of skills required todevelop products that can be presented in the international market.
Imbalanceof trade mainly occurs when the country imports good with a highvalue that the value of the goods or services that it exports. In thecase of Côte d’Ivoire, the country recorded an import volume indexof 183.5 in 2012 and 245.1 in 2013 and an export volume index of 97.3and 117.5 in the same financial tears respectively (World Bank Group1). From these figures it is evident that Côte d’Ivoire importmore products that it exports to other countries, which is a clearindication of a significant imbalance of trade. Importing of moregoods than exports harms the domestic economy in several ways. First,flooding the local market with imported goods increases the level ofcompetition for the local producers, which in turn lowers theirrevenues generating capacity. The level of competition may be stiffto an extent of forcing some local businesses to shut down. Thisleads to the second effect, which is the loss of jobs and income forthe local people. An increase in the level of unemployment andpoverty following the loss of income among the local investors hasforced Côte d’Ivoire to remain underdeveloped for many years.
Inadequateaccess to energy
Energyis among the key factors of production that people need in order torun their businesses. Although energy may be supplied in differentforms, most of the enterprises, both large and small ones, requireelectricity supply. Unfortunately, only 55 % of the people in Côted’Ivoire have access to electricity (World Bank Group 1). This canbe compared to other countries (such as China, Croatia, Cuba, andDenmark) that have achieved a 100 % access to electricity, implyingthat every citizen can use electricity for domestic and businessactivities (World Bank Group 1). The 45 % of the national populationthat does not have access to electricity in Côte d’Ivoire has beenprevented from making a maximum contribution towards the economicgrowth, since they lack of the fundamental factors of production.This will continue being a challenge and a major contributing factorto under-development in Côte d’Ivoire.
Althoughchild labor results from different factors (such as poverty in thefamilies) it has long-term effects on the economic growth of theaffected households and the national economy. When children startengaging in economic activities at a tender age, they tend to foregotheir education, which denies them the opportunity to acquire skillsthat can help them access better paying employment opportunities oreven acquire knowledge that can empower them to start a betterbusiness in the future. A persistent increase in the percentage ofchildren entering the labor market results in the generationalpoverty where individuals who joined the labor force beforecompleting school starting giving birth to children who are also at ahigh risk of joining the child labor market, given the limitedresources that their parents have to educate them. This informationprovides an overview of the scenario in Côte d’Ivoire, where morethan 36.6 % of the boys and 36.4 % of the girls aged between 7 yearsand 14 years join the child labor market each year (World Bank Group1). This implies that an average of 36.5 % of the children lacks,even the basic education as a result of their engagement in theeconomic activities. This has flooded the national economy with theunskilled labor force that cannot deliver Côte d’Ivoire or theirfamilies from the poverty.
Thehealth of the national population is positively correlated with theeconomic growth, given that healthy people are able to engage inproductive activities compared unhealthy citizens. The level of thepopulation health may be indicated by different factors, includingthe prevalence of different illnesses in the country, the level ofpublic expenditure in the health sector, and government’scommitment to strengthen preventive care. In the case of Côted’Ivoire, the government expenditure in the health care sector isvery low and inconsistent. For example, data show that the governmentspent $ 83 per capita in 2011, $ 80 in 2012, and $ 87 in the year2013 (World Bank Group 1). From these figures, it appears that thegovernment does not a sustainable policy that will ensure a gradualincrease in the finances channeled to health care in order improvethe population health. In addition, the amount per capita isrelatively low compared to the amount spent by other countries, suchas Cyprus that spent $ 2,248 per capita in 2011, $ 1,955 in 2013, and$ 1,884 in 2013 (World Bank Group 1). This comparison indicates thatCôte d’Ivoire is far from the reaching the health care expenditureof a developed nation. The lack of adequate resources in the healthcare sector has reduced the population health, thus limiting thecountry’s capacity to establish a healthy workforce that can helpit develop the national economy at a globally competitive rate.
Inaddition, under-investment in the preventive health care sector hashurt the national economy in several ways. For example, it is only 67% of the children aged 12-23 months were able to access DPTimmunization in the year 2014 (World Bank Group 1). This indicatesthat over 33 % of the children were left vulnerable to diseases. Inaddition, Côte d’Ivoire has been recording among the leastpercentage of improvement in the levels of sanitation. Data showsthat the country recorded a constant rate of 22 % improvement insanitation from 2012 to 2014 and an insignificant increase of onepercent in 2015 (World Bank Group 1). The lack of government’scommitment to boost preventive healthcare increase the vulnerabilityof the national population to communicable diseases that is expensiveto treat. This forces the government to spend more in the treatmentof illness that would have been prevented thus limiting the amount ofresources that are available for investment in other economicallyviable projects. Therefore, under-investment in the health caresector coupled with the lack concern to support preventive healthcare sector have contributed towards the under-development in Côted’Ivoire.
Inadequateinvestment in high technology
Technologyhas become the backbone of economic development, where it is beingapplied in nearly all aspects of professional as well as personallife. The application of technology in the industries (such as themanufacturing) increase efficiency, reduce the cost of producinggoods, and enhance the capacity of the country to produce goods thatmeet the standards required in the international market. This can beindicated by the quantities of exports of high-tech products that thecountry makes annually. Although Côte d’Ivoire has been exportinghigh-tech products for several years, data shows that the quantitiesof these exports have been reducing exponentially in the last threeyears. The country exported high-tech products worth $ 155,140,853 in2011, $ 91,583,887 in 2012, and $ 38,666,706 in 2013 (World BankGroup 1). The continuous decline in the amount of high-tech productsindicates that the country has been losing its competitive advantagein the international market, which limits its capacity to achieve thedesired levels of economic development. In addition, data shows thatthe proportion of high-tech products exported in 2011 was 15 % of thetotal manufactured goods, 9 % in 2012, and 1 % in 2013 (World BankGroup 1). This proportion is insignificant and its exponentialdecrease should worry the government since it is an indication thatthe desire to achieve a technology-based economy will be a challengeto the country.
Themost critical factor: the lack of access to education
Althoughall the aforementioned factors have contributed towards theinsignificant economic growth in Côte d’Ivoire, the lack ofadequate access to quality education is more significant. Inaddition, most of the rest of the factors can be directly orindirectly associated with the lack of educational attainment. Forexample, the poor levels of sanitation result from the lack ofknowledge about the health impacts of living in an uncleanenvironment. Moreover, the lack of access to quality educationresults in a population that has no adequate knowledge, skills, andexpertise that the country needs to drive domestic economy and engagein the international trade in a competitive manner. By increasingaccess to education at all levels (including the primary, secondary,and tertiary), the government will be able to address all otherfactors that have limited economic development in Côte d’Ivoire.
Thegovernment of Côte d’Ivoire should use four key strategies toincrease access to education at all levels and get out of the currentpoverty trap. First, government should formulate laws that will makebasic education (primary and secondary) free and compulsory for allchildren of the school-going age. This strategy will address thecurrent issue where 36.5 % of the children aged 7-14 years areengaged in commercial activities and dropped out of school (WorldBank Group 1). Making basic education free and compulsory impliesthat all children will be expected to be in school during the schooldays, where those who miss the school or adults who are caught givingjobs to underage children should be punished accordingly.
Secondly,the government should conduct civic education with the objective ofenlightening all citizens on the significance of enrolling inschools. Although the law on compulsory education is expected toensure that the underage children go back to school, theirconcentration and motivation to learn will be limited in case theyand their parents fail to comprehend the significance of education.Moreover, the enforcement of the laws will be difficult becausechildren will enroll to schools out of fear and not out of theirunderstanding of the significance of going to school. The civiceducation will reverse the current scenario where there is only 77 %of enrollment in the primary schools, 39 % in secondary schools, and9 % in tertiary institutions (World Bank Group 1). By increasingenrollment in all the three levels of learning through civiceducation, the government will be able supply a competent workforceto the labor market.
Third,the government should subsidize the high education or the tertiaryeducation in order to enable more people (including those from thepoor families) transition from high school to institutions of higherlearning. This can be achieved by allocating more funds for higheducation loans and offering brasseries to student who come from theneedy families. This is the only reliable way of breakinggenerational poverty, which is associated with children from the poorfamilies dropping out of school to look for jobs when they realizethat their parents can no longer keep them in school. These schooldropouts end up becoming poor parents who cannot also keep theirchildren in school. Financial support will break the this chain,reduce poverty, and enhance the growth of the national economy byempowering members of all social classes (including students from thepoor families) to take part in the productive activities.
Thelow enrollment in all levels of education, imbalance of trade, thelack of access to energy, child labor, poor population health,inadequate investment in education are some of the key factors thathave prevented Côte d’Ivoire from getting out of poverty trap.Under-enrollment in all levels of education has limited the number ofcompetent employees joining the labor force. The imbalance of trade,which is associated with a more imports than exports, reduces thecompetitiveness of the domestic businesses. The lack of access toenergy limits the capacity of small business to thrive. Child laborresult increase school dropouts, which contribute towardsgenerational poverty. Poor population health reduces the efficiencyof the workforce that cannot access quality care. A failure of thegovernment to make adequate investment in technology has limited thecompetitiveness of the local companies, which has in turn den deniedCôte d’Ivoire the opportunity to get out of poverty trap. The mosteffective strategy that the government of Côte d’Ivoire can use toincrease economic development and reduce the level of poverty is anincrease in the access to education at all levels.
TheWorld Bank Group. Indicators: Find an indicator. TheWorld Bank Group.2016. Web. 28 March 2016. < http://data.worldbank.org/indicator>