Côte d'Ivoire - Country Commercial Guide
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Côte d’Ivoire’s telecommunications infrastructure and growing internet market have laid the groundwork for the further development of eCommerce.   The eCommerce sector also offers investors an opportunity to provide cyber-security technology services to secure online payments.

General Overview

The country’s digital economy program is integrated into its national development plan and includes the digitalization of a series of financial, and administrative services.  The eCommerce market is dominated by the movement of Business to Customer (B2C) and Customer to Customer (C2C).  The sector offers a large range of items including food, electronic items, and household appliances. Electronics and household appliances cover about 70 percent of the items offered. The eCommerce market is worth approximately $80 million. The eCommerce ecosystem comprises international, national, big, medium, startup, and informal online social-media sellers.  The development of many startups implies that there are opportunities in terms of eCommerce website creation and design.  A business conference, called Abidjan-ecommerce-days, has been held every year since 2017, organized by Ellipse Communication, a local group.

Legal & Regulatory

The country adopted a law for the sector in 2013, aligned with related regional and international laws.  The law includes customer privacy protection and penalties for cybercrimes.  It does not have any restrictions on foreign investment.  Ecommerce companies receive the same incentives as other companies, as provided in the Investment Code.  The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Côte d’Ivoire (ARTCI) regulates the sector and reports to the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy.  A license is required to engage in eCommerce, and the firm must be registered with the government’s Investment Promotion Center.  

Buyers’ Behavior in Market

The growing middle class mostly buys from professional eCommerce websites while the largest part of the eCommerce users buy from other social media applications.  According to the eCommerce companies’ association, the eCommerce sector is dominated by informal sellers on social media using mobile internet, which accounts for about 75 percent of the market. With the low rate of bankarization and limited use of credit cards, eCommerce players developed a system of online ordering followed by cash upon delivery.  This system mitigates risks from cybercrimes.  This implied the development of delivery companies operating between online sellers and customers.  U.S. businesses interested in entering this market should take this aspect into account when building their strategic plan.  Various payment modes, including mobile money and cash on delivery, have been developed to reduce security issues and logistical problems.  In lieu of developing their own delivery systems, U.S. businesses can take advantage of an increasing number of delivery service options available on the local market.