Côte d'Ivoire, francophone West Africa’s major economic hub,1 is on the brink of incredible economic expansion and digital transformation. From 2011 to 2019, the GDP soared by at least 7% per year, making it Africa’s second fastest-growing economy for that period.2 Although economic growth slowed to 1.8% in 2020 in reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic,3 the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates a 6% surge in 2021.4
As Côte d'Ivoire recovers from the pandemic, digital transformation will go hand in hand with economic progress. The Digital Intelligence Index (DII), developed by Tufts University’s Fletcher School and Mastercard, ranks Côte d'Ivoire #8 in the world for digital evolution momentum. Between remarkable developments to the ICT sector5 and a friendly regulatory environment, the Ivorian fintech ecosystem is set to flourish. Innovation in payments has already contributed to development progress, particularly in promoting financial inclusion. In 2015, the Central Bank of West African States, of which Côte d'Ivoire is a member, introduced a regulatory framework for the issuance of nonbank e-money. Between 2014 and 2017, mobile money account ownership increased from 24% to 34% of the adult Ivorian population.6 About 8 million adult Ivorians—in a country of just over 27 million7—are still unbanked,8 and emerging technologies like a central bank digital currency (CBDC) would be instrumental in expanding access to financial services.
This year, regulators are focused on central bank digital currency (CBDC). The state is also looking to roll out national biometric ID cards. A key challenge will be ensuring that digitalization initiatives are applied equitably and do not widen disparities, such as the digital divide. Regulators must also look to strengthen national cybersecurity. Côte d'Ivoire ranks #11 in Africa on the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) 2020, developed by the United Nations’ International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Financial Regulatory Authorities
The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) is the central bank for the eight states that constitute the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA), including Côte d'Ivoire, Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo.
The Telecommunications/ICT Regulatory Authority of Côte d'Ivoire (ARTCI) is the data protection authority of Côte d'Ivoire.
Policy, Laws and Regulations
Central Bank Digital Currency, February 2021
The Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) has shown interest in exploring a CBDC, which would strengthen financial inclusion, simplify cross-border payments and promote greater regional integration. In February, the central bank and the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) held a virtual workshop on CBDC. The workshop sought to examine international trends in CBDC, the adoption of CBDC by the BCEAO, the role of CBDC in interregional and international trade, and security, policy, legal and regulatory concerns.9
1. “The World Bank in Côte d’Ivoire.” The World Bank, 03 May 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/cotedivoire/overview#1
2. de Bassompierre, Leanne. “IMF Expects Ivory Coast Economy to Expand About 6.5% This Year.” Bloomberg, 24 March 2021. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-03-24/imf-expects-ivory-coast-economy-to-expand-about-6-5-this-year-kmnbuakd
3. “The World Bank in Côte d’Ivoire.” The World Bank, 03 May 2021. https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/cotedivoire/overview#1
4. “CÔTE D'IVOIRE.” International Monetary Fund. https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/CIV
5. “New opportunities for ICT start-ups in Côte d'Ivoire.” Oxford Business Group. https://oxfordbusinessgroup.com/overview/upwardly-mobile-quality-and-availability-digital-services-continues-rise-bringing-new-opportunities
6. Riquet, Corinne and Max Mattern. “Regulations Drive Success of Digital Finance in Côte d’Ivoire.” Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, 02 July 2019. https://www.cgap.org/blog/regulations-drive-success-digital-finance-cote-divoire
7. “Côte d'Ivoire Population (LIVE).” Worldometer. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/cote-d-ivoire-population/
8. “Cote d'Ivoire: Orange's Digital Bank Hits 500,000 Users in Cote d'Ivoire - Further Roll-Outs Planned.” AllAfrica, 30 July 2021. https://allafrica.com/stories/202105030687.html
9. Banda, Manda. “ITFC and BCEAO explore digital currencies.” Intelligent CIO, 22 February 2021. https://www.intelligentcio.com/africa/2021/02/22/itfc-and-bceao-explore-digital-currencies/
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Last updated: November 2021