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Ivory Coast Donors Pledge $8.6 Billion to Spur Development Plans

Foreign donors have pledged about $8.6 billion to help finance a development plan meant to create jobs and improve infrastructure in Ivory Coast, the West African nation’s government said in a statement.

That’s more than double the amount initially sought at a World Bank-backed donor meeting in France’s capital, Paris. At least $4 billion was needed to fund the plan, Planning and Development Minister Albert Toikeusse Mabri said yesterday in an interview before the conference.

During the meeting, lenders said the Ivorian government still needs to find adequate responses to “major challenges” including good governance, rule of law and the general business climate, according to the statement e-mailed today.

Ivory Coast, with the biggest economy in the eight-member West African monetary union, is recovering from a post-election crisis in 2011 that halted cocoa exports and contracted growth by 4.7 percent. The world’s top cocoa grower ranks 177 out of 185 countries on the World Bank’s Doing Business index, which measures the ease of starting and operating a local company.

Between 2013-2015, about $8.4 billion is needed for the public development, while the private industries require as much as $10.6 billion in investments, the statement said. Ivory Coast said in the statement it wants to have “one of the best business climates in Africa.”

The economy is expected to grow 8.6 percent this year, the International Monetary Fund said on Oct. 2. Ivory Coast’s government is targeting 9 percent growth in 2013.

Ivory Coast had $4.4 billion of its debt canceled in June after completing an economic-reform program backed by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The Paris Club granted a further $4.73 billion of bilateral debt relief to the West African nation.

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