Ivory Coast becomes the toast of global brands; latest investment is CFAO’s $66m mall

French distribution group CFAO has opened a shopping mall in Abidjan, the commercial capital of West African state, Ivory Coast. The $66 million centre is CFAO’s first mall in Africa and will be used as a gateway to Africa’s growing middle class.

“We estimate that 250 million African people will have a level of income that allows them to afford equipment, healthcare and consumer goods by 2040,” said Richard Bielle, Chairman of the Management Board CFAO.

In September, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) projected that the economy of top cocoa producer Ivory Coast will grow by 8.4 percent in 2015 and 2016 and inflation will remain moderate. Following the country’s successful presidential elections a month later, which returned Alassane Ouattara as president, investor confidence in the economy grew. Fitch Ratings, in December, upgraded Ivory Coast’s long-term foreign and local currency IDRs to ‘B+’ from ‘B’ with stable outlooks.

CFAO

It also upgraded the country’s senior unsecured foreign currency bonds to ‘B+’. from ‘B’, citing the peaceful re-election of Ouattara. This, in part, places Ivory Coast as the perfect place for CFAO to start its quest to open several dozen shopping centers in sub-Saharan Africa over the next few years.

“We have a long-established presence in the country, which is a powerhouse in the sub-region, driven by its revitalised economy. Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) also has assets that allow us to be competitive, such as the quality of its infrastructure and its seedbed of local talent. This is a vital consideration for the longterm success of our operations,”says Richard Bielle, Chairman of the Management Board CFAO.

The company plans to build more than 80 malls in eight African countries by 2020, creating  more than 500 direct jobs and 800 indirect jobs in Ivory Coast alone. The PlaYce Marcory shopping center is a collaboration with French retailer Carrefour. It spans 20,000 square metres and features three distinct spaces: a Carrefour hypermarket with 3,200 square metres of retail surface area, a shopping mall with 55 stores, and a food court that seats over 400.

CFAO is not the only global brand leveraging on Ivory Coast’s good investment climate, to reach Africa. Earlier this month, American global restaurant chain Burger King announced it was opening its first West Africa store in Abidjan.