Blog | Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

Faced with the Threat of the Sea on the Infrastructures of the Ivorian Coast, the Private Sector and WACA are Organizing themselves

The WACA project aims to involve the private sector in the management of the Ivorian coast.

Abidjan, July 3, 2019: The WACA project aims to involve the private sector in the management of the Ivorian coast. To achieve this, the Government, with the support of the World Bank, organized in collaboration with the Energy, Quality, Hygiene, Health and Environment Commission (E-Qhse) of the General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d'Ivoire (CGECI), a workshop to raise awareness among the private sector. It was on June 13, 2019 at the Maison de l'entreprise in Abidjan.

The Ivorian coast, 566 km long, covers 7% of the territory. This area, due to its particularly varied ecosystem, is very attractive and records a high level of economic activity and a strong development potential for the area. 

However, it has been characterized for some time now by an average coastal retreat of about 1 to 2 or even 3 metres per year to the benefit of the sea. In 2011, spectacular declines of at least 10 metres were recorded in two days with a strong negative impact on populations and economic infrastructure.

This phenomenon of coastal erosion, coupled with the perverse effects of climate change, now threatens major economic infrastructures such as the Ivorian Refining Company, Abidjan International Airport, the Autonomous Ports of Abidjan and San Pedro as well as residential facilities and hotel facilities.

According to a World Bank report entitled "The Cost of Coastal Degradation in West Africa", Côte d'Ivoire, the country most affected by floods, coastal degradation cost nearly $2 billion in 2017, equivalent to 4.9% of its GDP.

Five hot spots have been identified. These are Grand-Lahou, Abidjan-Port-Bouet but also well-known seaside towns such as Grand-Bassam, Assinie and San-Pédro.  The Grand-Lahou area due to the accelerated impacts of coastal erosion has been selected as a pilot area for the WACA project. In each of these cities, the impacts of coastal erosion on economic infrastructure are considerable.

In response to this situation, stakeholders must work together to find common and effective solutions to sustainably protect the coastline and strengthen the resilience of coastal populations.

How can the private sector be more involved in the implementation of actions to strengthen the resilience of the West African coast in the face of climate change? "This was the challenge of the meeting with Ivorian private sector actors. The aim was to inform and raise awareness among private sector business owners about the implementation of the Investment Project for the Resilience of West African Areas (WACA-ReSIP) and the future roles and interventions of the Côte d'Ivoire Advisory Group set up at the regional workshop held last February in Abidjan.

"This workshop makes it possible to involve the Ivorian private sector so that it can take its place in the fight against the phenomenon of coastal erosion, which threatens in the short, medium and long term the leading economic infrastructures such as the Ivorian Refining Company (SIR) and against the perverse effects of climate change," recalled Professor Ochou Abé Delfin, Coordinator of the WACA Côte d'Ivoire project. The private sector has understood the expectations of this project so well that it intends to establish itself as a key player in integrated coastal management in Côte d'Ivoire.

"The vast majority of our companies of all sizes and of various activities are located on the coastline of our country. It should be noted that every day, they are subjected to the effects of climate change, namely coastal erosion, floods, tornadoes, etc., which can compromise their existence. The impacts of these challenges are many to be addressed if we want to ensure the sustainability of our activities through the protection of coastal infrastructure," said Mr Koutoua Claude, President of the e-Qshe Commission, before noting that the Investment Project for the Resilience of West African Areas (WACA-ReSIP) in Côte d'Ivoire is a first step in addressing the environmental challenges related to coastal management.

Already, on 27 and 28 February 2019, having become aware of the threat to their infrastructure and the need to set up an effective system of actions in synergy with all stakeholders, several private and public structures participated in the organization of the first regional private sector dialogue on the coastal zone, in collaboration with the World Bank, which resulted in the establishment of an advisory group.

This private sector engagement is of critical importance to the success of the fight against coastal erosion and the impacts of climate change. This meeting was strongly involved by the Ivorian Employers, through the Energy, Quality, Hygiene, Health and Environment Commission (E-Qhse) of the General Confederation of Enterprises of Côte d'Ivoire (CGECI).

This workshop was attended by Mélissa Landesz, WACA ResiP Côte d'Ivoire Project Manager, Alikia Abraham, Private Sector Specialist at the World Bank and Nicolas Desramaut, WACA Mauritania and Sao Tome and Principe Project Manager, who called on the Ivorian private sector to become more involved in integrated coastal management and pooling efforts to achieve concrete results.

The country's economy depends on its ability to find relevant responses to coastal management issues, especially since growth in several countries is highly dependent on natural resources such as fisheries, petroleum products, minerals and timber. About 42% of West Africa's GDP comes from its coastal areas.

In Côte d'Ivoire, World Bank support amounts to CFAF 15.8 billion for the implementation of the WACA project over a five-year period to help the country strengthen the resilience of its coastline.

Author: Marie Ebrottie

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Location: Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire

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