afrol News, 27 April - Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire's largest city and formerly West Africa's economic capital, is experiencing a quick reopening of trade, banking and international communications.
Only this week, a large number of international companies announced the resumption of their Abidjan operations, causing great hopes in Côte d'Ivoire that the country's economy can recover quickly after more than a decade of conflict.
Yesterday, Kenya Airways resumed its flights to Abidjan after a five-month suspension of its former main route connecting East and West Africa.
Sénégal Airlines earlier this week even had announced the opening of a new route connecting Dakar and Abidjan; the two main cities in French speaking West Africa. Other international airlines are following paste.
The inauguration and reopening of Abidjan air connections to other African cities marks a turning point in post-conflict Côte d'Ivoire, mirroring market confidence in a quick recovery of Abidjan as an economic powerhouse in West Africa.
Indeed, the port of Abidjan had reopened business as usual already last week, although port authorities reported that trade was still very limited. But with the cocoa trade poised to resume in full vigour within short, the Abidjan port is expected to soon return to pre-war levels.
Before the Ivorian conflicts - which started with a coup d'état in 2000, continued with a civil war that split the country in north and south and ended in extreme post-election violence late 2010 and early 2011 - Abidjan was also West Africa's banking centre.
The market expects Abidjan to recover its position as the regional financial capital within short. The part of the local and international banking sector that staid in Abidjan during the confl
Fighting in Abidjan's Locodjoro district, close to the port, on 10 April 2011
ict has already resumed trade or announced resumption within short. According to Ivorian authorities, all banks currently present in the country have reopened.
Also international banks that had fled Côte d'Ivoire during the unrest are hurrying to reopen Abidjan offices to assure their shares in the post-conflict market.
The latest announcement is from the French bank Société Générale, saying it is in a rush to reopen its Ivorian branch SGBCI. The bank, on equal basis with others, had experienced large damages to its headquarters, offices and computer network during the conflict, a spokesman informed.
Most promising, the key African Development Bank (AfDB) is already discussing a return to Abidjan. The AfDB, which finances development projects all over the continent, had to flee its Abidjan headquarters in 2003, symbolising a major blow to the city as Africa's banking capital.
The AfDB has been temporarily headquarters in Tunis, which also has experienced unrest during the last half year.
AfDB governors last week "reaffirmed that the Bank's headquarters remains Abidjan and it welcomed the recent encouraging and positive developments in Côte d'Ivoire, which it felt would in due course lead to improved security, permitting the Bank to return to its headquarters," according to a statement.
The full resumption of banking and other economic activities in Abidjan however depend on the new government's ability to provide stability and security. While the market currently is optimistic, even minor drawbacks could still easily shake confidence.
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