In the 2 weeks following Beyonce’s half time performance of Formation at the 50th Superbowl, the video was viewed online more than 60 million times and has caused a worldwide sensation. It featured work by Ivorian designer Loza Maléombho and you can expect to feel much more influence from her homeland in the near future. After being ravaged by a series of internal conflicts, the Ivory Coast looks set for two, decades of significant growth.
As foreign investment pours into the country, the future is looking much brighter for this West African coastal country of more than 20 million inhabitants.
One of the biggest differences between a dictator and a leader is the ability to forgive your enemies. At the start of 2016, Ivory Coast’s President Alassane Ouattara issued a general pardon to his enemies supporters, allowing for the release of thousands of prisoners. He has also promised no more prosecutions at the ICCt.
President Ouattara spent most of his career with the IMF and has strong ties with the world’s economic institutions, which has helped him build confidence in his country’s ability to put the past behind it and to become an economic powerhouse. While Ivory Coast may be the biggest producer of cocoa in the world, Oauttara was born in the town of Dimbokro, where the only sizeable industry was textiles.
The original factory was opened in 1975, but closed in 2002 during the war. It re-opened in 2012 as SOTEXI (Societe Textile de Cote d’Ivoire), under the strong leadership of Dr Vassiliki Konate.
Dr Konate’s belief in the factory is very positive, “People fear that this will be a ‘stillborn’ business. The economy of the region and the country will rebound slowly, but it will grow. We are expecting to recruit up to 3,000 workers”.
His ambition has a solid foundation. A vibrant textile and clothing industry relies on raw materials. At the peak of the fighting, cotton production in Ivory coast dropped below 100,000 tons a year. Now the political stability, foreign investment and ambition of the president have combined to raise the 2016 cotton production forecast to 484,000 tons.
“The price that farmers receive will not go down”, said government spokesman Bruno Kone. Welcome words for the farmers, as most economies ‘reward’ increased production with reduced prices.
“The government has set a target output of 600,000 tons of cotton a year before 2020 – and that is perfectly achievable”.
Increased production, for resources that are in constant global demand, will dramatically increase the wealth of the nation and change the lives of millions.
As the cleansing impact of change continues to reverberate, alongside the forgiving of political enemies, the future for Ivory Coast looks very positive – especially with creative inspirations like Lola Maleombho and G. R. Touré providing such positive role models.