Ivory Coast scores goals on the field and in the financial sector
A while ago we wrote an article about Portside’s plan to travel to Abidjan, the financial capital of Ivory Coast, as part of a delegation of Dutch companies in the maritime and logistics sector.
The purpose of the trip was to identify potential partnerships between the Netherlands and Ivory Coast in these sectors. This is how it all went.
A welcome party unlike most
Getting to travel and experience different cultures are some of my favourite aspects of this job. As I have learnt through the years, working in different countries means sometimes having to do things differently from what you’re used to from back home. This requires a certain level of flexibility on my part. It turned out that our trip to Ivory Coast was no different.
We arrived to Abidjan on the evening of February 8, on what soon became clear to us, was the night of the Africa Cup of Nations final in soccer. Ivory Coast were playing Ghana and the country was standing still.
Across the nation people were gathered around TVs – in every home and restaurant. After 120 minutes on the field none of the teams had scored and the tension was building. The final was going to be decided on penalties!
When the 11th player attempting a goal – Ivory Coast’s Boubacar “Copa” Barry – scored, everyone held their breath. If Ghana missed it would all be over. Ghana’s Brimah Razak missed. Ivory Coast exploded.
Fireworks lit up the sky all around us and we could hear the whole city of Abidjan partying and singing. It was quickly decided that winning the African Cup on shootouts against Ghana calls for some alternations to the national calendar. And subsequently the next day was swiftly turned in to a national holiday. While we too were very happy about the win, it did admittedly make our schedule a bit difficult to stick to.
A day of inspiring meetings
The mission was nevertheless opened on the Monday as planned by His Excellency Mr Hans Docter, Netherlands’ Ambassador to Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Togo. The meeting was the first official Dutch visit to the Ivory Coast since the 2010-2011 civil war and we were honoured to be part of it.
Our main focus at this initial meeting was discussing port development. It was very interesting to listen to the director of APM Terminals, Ms Ségolène Drogy, talking about their terminal and the opportunities, as well as the difficulties, they have experienced in their operations in Ivory Coast.
After this meeting we were supposed to go to the port of Abidjan, but due to the celebrations this meeting was cancelled. The next pit stop was a presentation held by CEPICI, a Ivory Coast body facilitating commercial activates and encouraging foreign investment and trade.
Here we learned that Ivory Coast are doing really well at the moment and are actively looking for investors from other countries to support their growing economy. Monday ended with our attendance at the official opening of the Dutch Trade office in Ivory Coast – a great way to end a busy day!
Going home with great hopes for the future
Tuesday was supposed to be a big day as we were invited to meet with the ministers of the Ivory Coast government. It turned out, however, that the ministers were still in party mode, so this meeting was unfortunately cancelled.
Later that day the delegation visited the African Development Bank, where we learned what they are doing to promote financial growth in various African countries.
That night I was fortunate to be invited to dinner by Mr Emmanuel Essis, Director of CEPICI, who told us enthusiastically about how fast the country is growing but how much work is still to be done before the country is restored to pre-civil war financial levels.
For us at Portside it was a very exciting trip and we hope that we will be able to expand our business in this area in the near future.