Ivory Coast enlists Gide in boosting tourism investment
The latest in a series of roundtables aimed at increasing investment in the Ivorian tourist sector saw leading French law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel take a notable part.
With the conclusion, in November, of the latest of a series of roundtables held by the Ivory Coast government’s Ministry of Tourism and Leisure in the German city of Hamburg, came welcome news of pledges of EUR 5.8 billion (around USD 6.4 billion) in investment pledges towards the Ivorian tourism sector.
The pledges, made in the form of memoranda of understanding (MoUs) and letters of intent, were negotiated by the minister responsible, Siandou Fofana,and a team of officials who were supported by Paris-headquartered law firm Gide Loyrette Nouel.
The Gide team, in the form of partner Nicolas Jean and associate Constance Emié, assisted the minister at an earlier round table in Dubai, in which approximately USD 5 billion in pledges were raised in October from 15 MoUs and letters of intent, which raised the total of pledges to USD 12 billion.
Associates Perrine Delandre and Célia Alao also provided advice on project structuring and sector reform, while partner Stéphane Puel, counsel Benjamin Delaunay, and associates Kikoun Landry Coulibaly and Jennifer Choissis advised on fund structuring.
The line-up was completed by counsel Julien Guinot-Deléry and associate Luca Chevallier, who provided advice on media and communications law.
The USD 12 billion marks the culmination of a two-year project of fundraising aimed at building interest, awareness and partnership in the opportunities the Ivory Coast tourism market represents, involving banks, development finance institutions, regional bodies and businesses in the tourism, real estate, construction and infrastructure sectors, all of which are seen as critical in generating the capacity for growth that sector feels the country offers.
Following the signature of such pledges, Gide is involved in finalising the structuring, creation and financial close of the sovereign and private equity investment funds which will ultimately receive and manage the funds.
The initiative, known as the Sublime Côte d’Ivoire, has been supported at presidential level, while also being endorsed by the World Tourism Organisation, with that body’s secretary general Zurab Pololikashvili, in attendance at the recent roundtable.
The initiative, set to last until 2025, aims to make Ivory Coast the fifth largest tourism hub in Africa, with a view to boosting tourist numbers to more than four million tourists a year in that period.
In a statement given in Dubai in October, Fofana praised Gide’s “active role in the success of the event and in reaching the Ministry’s objectives,” adding that Jean’s “support, tireless work and leadership skills, largely contributed to the success of this project”, calling him “an ardent defender of our nation”, especially suited for such work.
Ivory Coast also reached out to the African Development Bank (AfDB) in April, whose vice president responsible for such private sector initiatives, Pierre Guislain, met with Fofana at the AfDB’s headquarters in Abidjan.
Fofana told the AfDB that the bank’s help was required in pooling resources to complete the project, including developing certain strategic projects, including convention facilities at a proposed ‘Abidjan Business City.’
In a statement, he added: “We do not currently have a conference centre and we do not have a hall with the capacity to accommodate 5,000 people. There is, therefore, a need to move quickly in that regard.”
Other plans also outlined by Fofana included the development of the country’s 550km coastline, the development of leisure park facilities, as well as related investments in security, healthcare, transport, and infrastructure, including airports, to increase tourist and visitor numbers, which, he said, would make tourism a pillar of the Ivorian economy.
Guislain outlined the bank’s own investment strategies, as reported previously by ALB, saying that “business tourism needs to be consolidated and your ambitions are good,” adding the AfDB had a good relationship with its host country, having financed relevant infrastructure projects essential to tourism, as well as the national flag carrier.