Developing Countries - Cote d'Ivoire and Gabon
video program features two case studies on Africa South
of the Sahara: Cote d'Ivoire: Cocoa and Change
and Gabon: Sustainable Resources?
Cote d'Ivoire and Gabon are former colonies of France
and have rich, culturally diverse populations. Each
has pursued economic development with varied success.
first case study, Cote d'Ivoire: Cocoa and Change,
shows that Cote d' Ivoire, previously known as Ivory
Coast, is the largest cocoa producer in the world. The
country experienced strong economic growth in the 1960s
and 1970s based upon the export of this commodity. Plantation
agriculture requires a hot, humid rain forest environment
for cultivation and demands significant labor for crop
production. Migration to fill the demand for labor has
resulted in an influx of people from different ethnic
groups, as shown in the village of Nipy, located in
the southwestern part of this West African country.
wealth influenced the growth and activities of Abidjan,
the principal city and port of Cote d'Ivoire. The government
administration centered in Abidjan manages economic
stabilization programs that have encouraged growth and
aided development through investment in the country's
infrastructure. The creation of services and facilities
in the new, more geographically centered capital of
Yamoussoukro has had positive and negative aspects,
mirroring the situation throughout the country. Major
economic, environmental, and social problems have arisen,
including an over dependence on a single export commodity,
deforestation caused by an increase in cultivation,
and an influx of migrant peoples.
update to this case study includes discussion of changes
in the Cote d'Ivoire government and commentary by Dr.
Thomas Bassett concerning tensions over the reduced
availability of land for cocoa cultivation, and who
is or is not "Ivorian."
second case study, Gabon: Sustainable Resources?,
looks at another former colonial possession of France.
Situated in Equatorial Africa, the country of Gabon
is sparsely populated and its economy is based upon
the export of primary resources, mostly derived from
oil and wood products. While oil exports now dominate
in terms of revenue, the exploitation of forested areas
to produce wood products remains a concern.
Cote d'Ivoire, the fragile structure of the Gabonese
economy is tied to external demand for its commodities.
Because falling prices in international markets have
decreased domestic tax revenues, government spending
at home cannot adequately provide public services and
utilities, as seen in the shanty town near Libreville,
the country's capital and largest city. Most of the
residents inhabiting these inadequate quarters and low-lying
flood plains have migrated from rural areas. The financial
crisis of 1986, caused by the fall of the price of oil
and the devaluation of the Gabonese currency, has been
difficult on the poor.
improve life for the people, the government is attempting
to restructure its policy and reduce dependence on oil
as the basis for its economy. While oil will remain
an important export for the next few years, diversification
into agriculture and forestry will contribute to stabilization
of the country's economy. Another sector that may allow
sustainable development is ecotourism, capitalizing
on a new national park system that protects Gabon's
to this video program include information on the new
park system and its development, featuring commentary
by Leslie White of the Wildlife Conservation Society,
new video footage, and a general update of the situation
and Ecological Zones
and Religious Conflicts