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Ivory Coast Table of Contents

Ivory Coast



The Abidjan skyline
Courtesy Eszti Votaw

From time to time, the replacement of French workers with Ivoirians became a political issue. Popular resentment of the French presence, particularly as the competence of Ivoirians increased, emerged periodically in the form of student strikes and anonymous political tracts. Especially irksome to many Ivoirians were the highly paid French counterparts to Ivoirian cabinet ministers; however, in the late 1980s most of the approximately 30,000 French workers were in the private sector, where they held the majority of all jobs requiring postsecondary education. Some also worked in middle-level white-collar and blue-collar jobs. There were, for example, French citizens working at tasks for which their qualifications in no way distinguished them from Ivoirian employees but who nonetheless received substantially higher salaries. Throughout the country there were French mechanics, foremen, plantation owners, storekeepers, clerical workers, and supervisors. French women filled many of the top secretarial positions and thus became special targets of nationalist resentment (see The French , this ch.).

Most controversial in the 1980s was Houphouët-Boigny's appointment of Antoine Cesareo to head a newly created superagency to control government waste. Cesareo was a French national with a reputation as an incorruptible and efficient public servant. The Public Works Authority (Direction et Control des Grands Travaux--DCGTX), which Cesareo headed under the direct control of Houphouët-Boigny, supervised virtually all government contracts and construction projects. By 1987 Cesareo claimed that he had overseen some US$3.3 billion in contracts and, by avoiding delays and overruns, had saved the Ivoirian government US$2.6 billion. However, he also irritated many within the Ivoirian political establishment, one of whom anonymously pointed out that Côte d'Ivoire was the only country in Africa to accord a foreigner a stranglehold over local finances.

Data as of November 1988