Buying and Selling

flag Ivory Coast Ivory Coast: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Economic Cooperation
Côte d'Ivoire is a member of the Economic Commmunity of West African States (ECOWAS), and of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA).
Non Tariff Barriers
Imports and exports are free.
Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
There are very different levels of import taxes according to the products; for further information, consult the Ivorian Customs.

Customs Classification
Côte d'Ivoire belongs to the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA which brings together the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo). Since 1 January 2000, and whatever their entry point into the UEMOA, third countries to the UEMOA pay duties and taxes defined according to the Common External Tariff (CET) of the UEMOA.

Applicable Customs rates are according to the category the imported product belongs to: essential assets on a closed list: category I, 0% - essentials, basic raw materials, capital goods, specific inputs: category II, 5% - intermediate inputs and goods: category III, 10% - goods for final consumption and other products not mentioned elsewhere: category IV, 20%. The Customs duty base is the CIF value. The documents to be provided are a commercial invoice, a certificate of origin for third countries and a EUR1 certificate. To determine the category of your product, you can consult the Customs classification in force in Côte d'Ivoire (in conformity with the Harmonized System).

Import Procedures
Côte d'Ivoire belongs to the West African Economic and Monetary Union (UEMOA which brings together the following countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo). Since 1 January 2000, and whatever their entry point into the UEMOA, third countries to the UEMOA pay duties and taxes defined according to the Common External Tariff (CET) of the UEMOA.
An import declaration must be filed with the National Single Window for Foreign Trade.

Documents for most goods shipped into Côte d’Ivoire include:

  • Commercial Invoice: Two copies of the freight invoices in French are required.  No specific form is required, but all invoices must contain the names of the exporter and consignee, number and types of packages, marks and numbers on the packages, net and gross weights, CIF value, terms of sale, and a thorough description of the merchandise.  Note that the importer will usually need a signed duplicate invoice to speed the release of the imported goods from customs.  This should be sent via air courier and arrive in Côte d’Ivoire prior to the arrival of the merchandise.
  • Certificate of Origin: Two certified copies are required.
  • Packing List: A packing list is not legally required, but such lists are usually considered essential in accelerating the time required for customs clearance.
  • Bill of Lading (or air waybill): No regulations specifying the content of a bill of lading. Importers should include clear marks of identification and the name and address of the consignee of the goods. Shipping marks on the goods must correspond exactly to the numbers on bills of lading/invoices.
  • Pro-Forma Invoice: Persons wishing to import goods are required to attach six copies of this invoice to the application for an import license and/or the intent to import.  A proforma invoice may also be required when presenting an application to Ivoirian authorities to ship bonded goods through the country.
  • Webb Fontaine Inspection Certificate: Issued by the inspecting Webb Fontaine Ruling Center delivered to the importer in Abidjan

 For imports above CFA 478,000, the importer must establish an anticipated import declaration (DAI) in the computerized system of customs clearance. For more information, please visit the website of the Côte d'Ivoire Customs Office (in French).

Importing Samples
To import samples, you must request an authorisation from the General Directorate of Customs, then use an ATA carnet.
For Further Information
Ivorian Customs
Business Portal for Africa

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Consumer Profile
With a GDP per capita of USD 2,570 (IMF, 2021) and a median age of 20.3 years (CIA Wolrd Factbook, 2020 est.), the average Ivorian consumer is as young as consumers in most other neighbouring countries but richer than all of them except the ones in Nigeria. The average consumer is not well-educated with a school life expectancy of 10 years, compared to 9.3 years in Africa and 12.4 years in middle-income countries (World Bank, latest data available). The country is also marked by economic inequalities, with a Gini coefficient score of 41.5 points (58th worldwide) (CIA World Factbook, latest data available).
Consumer Behaviour
Ivorian economy has posted one of the strongest performances in Africa over the last years, with steady GDP growth, stable currency and solid infrastructure, which have all influenced consumer behaviour in the country. Ivorian consumers are still attracted to traditional retailers where bargaining is allowed and products are presented in a simpler form, however international and local retail brands (Carrefour, Bonprix, CDCI) are increasing their market share: 52% of consumers buy most of their grocery needs from open markets as opposed 35% of consumers that prefer supermarkets according to a Nielsen survey (latest data available). Consumers remain price-sensitive (42% of them know the price of most items and realise when there is a price change according to the same survey) and store loyal (46% of consumers rarely change stores). Consumer spending is expected to remain strong in the coming years, while the franc's peg to the euro limits inflation, unlike other African countries with a floating exchange rate regime.
Consumers Associations
List of consumer associations affiliated with FACACI
Associations des consommateurs (only in French)
Main Advertising Agencies
Havas Worldwide
Océan Ogilvy

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is dominated by a traditional trade retail base, however, according to the Nielsen 2017 Shopper Trends syndicated report for Ivory Coast, the modern trade arena has seen progressive change in the last two years and holds tremendous potential for growth.  This is spurred on by the expansion of global and local retail brands such as Carrefour, CDCI and Bonprix and a growing consumer appetite for more organised retail outlets, which offer a broader assortment of products as well as competitive pricing and enhanced promotional activities.

Traditional trade is still strong in the minds of Ivorian shoppers; who value the bargaining interaction they have in open markets and the availability of all the products they want in one place. However, the current development of modern trade and a growing middle class is creating a shift towards more formalised shopping experiences.  

Ivory Coast’s outstanding advances in terms of ease of doing business, strong GDP growth, new IPOs, a doubling of the banking sector, low inflation, stable currency and solid infrastructure are some of the drivers that now underpin a developing retail sector that is seeing a rise in branded, modern trade formats. At present, supermarkets account for only a small percentage of urban store numbers, but there is significant growth potential within this channel given that 35% of consumers shop in supermarkets for weekly and monthly pantry restocking, according to the Nielsen 2017 Shopper Trends Report.
Market share
The informal sector dominates large-scale distribution in Côte d'Ivoire and accounts for more than half of the commercial transactions. Nevertheless, the formal distribution sector is growing rapidly. PROSUMA (Ivory Coast Promotion Company of Supermarkets) and CDCI (Distribution Company of Côte d'Ivoire) are the two giants of the distribution sector in the country. The French group Carrefour has been present in the country since 2015, notably by aligning with the French CFAO Retail's strategy, which is accelerating the establishment of shopping centres in Côte d'Ivoire.

The local retail sector is booming, with several players:

  • MataHolding and its brand Cytadia: expanding in inland cities in and some residential neighbourhoods of Abidjan
  • Prosuma and its outlets Jour de Marché and Cash Ivoire
  • CDCI with Leader Price.

The retail sector is experiencing dynamic growth and some of the key players hope to double their number of stores by 2019. The biggest supermarket brands, King Cash, Hayat and Leader Price, have
a niche position in the retail market as they offer almost exclusively imported products at exorbitant prices, which puts them out of reach of the majority of Ivorian households.

Retail Sector Organisations
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Ivory Coast
Ministry of Trade
Portal for Foreign Affairs in Cameroon

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Internet access
The Ivory Coast is one of the most connected countries in Africa and has the second fastest mobile connection in the continent. With a population of almost 25 million, and 6.3 million internet users, the penetration rate in the country was 26.3 % in 2017. In 2017, there were only 0.6 fixed-broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants, while that number was much higher with mobile-broadband subscriptions (53.9 per 100 inhabitants). Furthermore, 5.6% of households had a computer, and 13.5% of them had internet access at home. The strongest sector of the market is the mobile sector, as fixed internet and broadband are still underdeveloped. This is partly due to high international bandwidth costs and monopoly over the submarine cable serving the country. Access to additional cables are proving to be a cause for the current price reduction of wireless broadband services.
E-commerce market
The Ivory Coast’s growing Internet market and good telecommunications infrastructure prepared the country for the development of their e-commerce market, which is expected to grow significantly in the next few years. As the use of technology grows in the country, so will e-commerce. There are no official figures on e-commerce revenue. Traditional trade is still strong among Ivorian shoppers, who value bargaining and the interaction they have in open markets. However, the increasing development of technology in the country and a growing middle class are creating a shift towards online shopping. The country has become more attractive to companies based both inside and outside the continent. The country's advances in terms of ease of doing business, strong growth, low inflation, a stable currency and solid infrastructure make the Ivory Coast a regional hub for e-commerce. Most online shoppers are men aged between 25 and 44 years old. Some of the most popular e-commerce websites in the country include Jumia, Wasiri, Sigata, and Kaymu.

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
Ivory Coast has two autonomous ports: Abidjan and San Pedro. Although the autonomous port of Abidjan is expanding, it has lost its position as the leading Franc Zone port to the advantage of Dakar, but it continues to occupy a particular place in West Africa. A major part of Burkina Faso and Mali's exports transits this port.

Regarding external air links, Côte d'Ivoire only has one international airport, in Abidjan, but it has 27 other airports for domestic flights.

The railway network in Côte d'Ivoire links Abidjan and Ouagadougou. This line handles international traffic with Burkina Faso. It carries passengers and freight.

The railway carries most of the exports of cocoa, coffee and other agricultural products.
Autonomous Port of Abidjan
Abidjan Airport (in French)
Sea Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Air Transport Organisations
National Civil Aviation Authority
Road Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organisations
Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
The industrial sector represents 21% of the GDP. It is mainly made up of the industries processing cocoa, coffee and shea. The petroleum industry is growing.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Annuaire CI - Côte d’Ivoire business directory
Annuaire.gouv - Public services directory
CI Entreprises - Ivoity Coast business directory
Go Africa - Côte d'Ivoire - Directory companies of Côte d’Ivoire
Port Abidjan - Abidjan autonomous port directory
Pratik - Business directory in Ivoiry Coast
Yalwa - Ivoity Coast business directory
Yello - Business directory
Yellow Pages - Financial business information

To search directories by industry in the Ivory Coast, check out our service Business Directories.

Professional Associations by Sector
24 professional associations listed for the Ivory Coast.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Ivory Cost Chamber of Commerce and Industry
General Professional Associations
General Confederation of Companies in Côte d'Ivoire

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Latest Update: March 2024