African Export-Import Bank said it will provide as much as $1 billion in finance for cocoa and cashew projects in Ivory Coast as the country seeks to increase its domestic processing capacity.
The bank is offering loans to private investors and projects owned by the state, which will also guarantee the finance, Benedict Oramah, chief executive officer of the Cairo-based lender known as Afreximbank, told reporters in the commercial capital, Abidjan, after meeting with President Alassane Ouattara on Tuesday.
“We will support the government’s industrialization program which aims to process locally 50 percent of cocoa and cashew-nut production by 2020,” Oramah said.
Ivory Coast currently grinds 31 percent of its cocoa crop, according to the government, while the country processes 15 percent of the cashews it grows, Oramah said.
Afreximbank’s announcement follows after Ivory Coast adopted tax incentives this month to boost cocoa grinding in the world’s biggest producer of the beans. The country is also the continent’s largest grower of cashews. The industrialization program will support growth in Ivory Coast, whose economy expanded by 10.3 percent in 2015, the highest rate in sub-Saharan Africa. Cocoa prices have declined 5.8 percent this year in New York, reaching $3,026 a metric ton on Tuesday.