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BANKING

Daniel Kablan Duncan, Prime minister, Côte d'Ivoire

Leaders of Africa's new deal


The well-established front man for Côte d'Ivoire's economic revolution, premier Daniel Kablan Duncan has become a common sight at the country's investment roadshows. Sporting well-tailored dark-blue suits and conversing in fluent English or French about the finer points of Abidjan's economic reform programme, Duncan has for many foreign businesses and governments come to embody Côte d'Ivoire's reorientation.

And historically, that's correct. Duncan was finance minister in the last days of late president Félix Houphouët-Boigny, just as the decision was made to turn the economic ship around. From an economy mired in debt, a failing agriculture sector and a ludicrous consumer import bill, Duncan and his team started changing the economic rules. The key cocoa and coffee sectors have been liberalized and production is booming. Hundreds of state-owned companies have been restructured and sold off while foreign buyers have been chipping away at France's automatic preference in the Ivoirian market.

Against the backdrop of an economy that has been growing at more than 6% a year for the past five years, the Abidjan bourse has seen some spectacular gains. So much so that this year it is to become the centre for a new regional bourse linking all the capital markets in the neighbouring francophone countries.


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