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The State and Maritime Nationalism in Côte d'Ivoire

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2008


One of the intriguing paradoxes of Côte d'Ivoire is that while the political class has become famous for its ‘open-door’ capitalism, the Government headed by Félix Houphouët-Boigny consistently heightened its rhetoric of ‘Ivoirianisation’ through which it purported to indigenise the economy. The fact is that capitalism controlled by foreigners has generally gained the upper hand with state connivance or approval. Where local capitalism exists, it is often spearheaded by the state as participant and competitor, rather than as a facilitator of indigenous enterprise. Shipping offers a good example of this dual approach, where the state became the vanguard of a vigorous national and regional drive for maritime independence, but at the same time pursued its self-declared ‘open-door’ strategy which ensured continued domination of the sector by foreigners.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1994

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1 See Fadika, Lamine, ‘La Stratégie maritime ivoirienne et nouvel ordre maritime international’, in Revue française d'études politiques africaines (Paris), 13, 0607 1978, p. 29.Google Scholar

2 Several writers have investigated programmes aimed at indigenising other aspects of the Ivoirian economy with astonishing results. See, for example, Hecht, Robert M., ‘The Ivory Coast Economic “Miracle”: what benefits for peasant farmers?’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies (Cambridge), 21, 1, 03 1983, pp. 2553;Google ScholarZartman, I. William and Delgado, Christopher (eds.), The Political Economy of Ivory Coast (New York, 1984);Google ScholarCampbell, Bonnie, ‘The State and Capitalist Development in the Ivory Coast’, in Lubeck, Paul M. (ed), The African Bourgeoisie: capitalist development in Nigeria, Kenya, and the Ivory Coast (Boulder, 1987), pp. 281303;Google ScholarAssidon, Elsa, Le Commerce captif: les sociétés commerciales françaises de l'Afrique noire (Paris, 1989);Google ScholarCrook, Richard C., ‘Patrimonialism, Administrative Effectiveness and Economic Development in Côte d'Ivoire’, in African Affairs (London), 88, 351, 04 1989, pp. 205–28;Google ScholarFauré, Yves A., ‘Côte d'Ivoire: analysing the crisis’, in O'Brien, Donal B. Cruise, Dunn, John, and Rathbone, Richard (eds.), Contemporary West African States (Cambridge, 1989), pp. 5973;Google Scholar and Boone, Catherine, ‘Commerce in Côte d'Ivoire: Ivoirianisation without Ivoirian traders’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, 31, 1, 03 1993, pp. 6792.Google Scholar

3 Therborn, Göran, What Does the Ruling Class Do When it Rules? (London, 1978), pp. 24, 35–40, 62, and 150.Google Scholar See also, Therborn, , ‘The Rule of Capital and the Rise of Democracy’ in New Left Review (London), 103, 0506 1977, pp. 341.Google Scholar

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7 Ibid. p. 220.

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10 Ibid. See also, Boone, Catherine, Merchant Capital and the Roots of State Power in Senegal, 1930–1985 (Cambridge, 1992).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

11 For a recent collection of essays that reflect the British/European conceptualisation of ‘good government’ and how to bring it about in Africa, as well as some African reactions, see Moore, Mick (ed.), ‘Good Government?’, in IDS Bulletin, 24, 1, 01 1993.Google Scholar For other perspectives, see Center, Carter, African Governance in the 1990s. Working Papers from the Second Annual Seminar of the African Governance Program (Atlanta, 1990),Google Scholar and Hyden, Göran and Bratton, Michael (eds.), Governance and Politics in Africa (Boulder and London, 1992).Google Scholar

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15 Ibid. p. 32.

16 See Manning, Patrick, Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa, 1880–1985 (Cambridge, 1988), p. 124.Google Scholar

17 Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens (Paris), 16 06 1963, quoted in Tresselt, op. cit. p. 32.Google Scholar

19 Manning, op. cit. p. 48. See also, Boone, ‘Commerce in Côte d'Ivoire’, pp. 71–3.

20 Tresselt, op. cit. pp. 41–2.

21 Ibid. p. 43.

22 Ibid. p. 70.

23 For the debates leading to the founding of the Black Star Line of Ghana and the Nigerian National Shipping Line, see Leubuscher, Charlotte, The West African Shipping Trade, 1909–1959 (Leiden, 1963),Google Scholar and Iheduru, Okechukwu C., ‘Merchant Fleet Development by Legislation: lessons from West and Central Africa’, in Maritime Policy and Management (Basingstoke), 19, 4, 12 1992, pp. 297317.Google Scholar

24 Tresselt, op. cit. pp. 42 and 46.

25 See ibid. p. 46, in particular, for this optimism.

26 This brief summary is adapted from Valente, Murillo G., ‘The Participation of Developing Countries in Shipping’, in International Conciliation (New York), 582, 03 1971, pp. 2743.Google Scholar See also, Zamora, Stephen, ‘UNCTAD III: the question of shipping’, in Journal of World Trade Law (Twickenham, Middlesex), 7, 1973, pp. 91115;Google ScholarStrange, Susan and Holland, Richard, ‘International Shipping and the Developing Countries’ in World Development (Oxford), 4, 3, 1976, pp. 241–51;Google ScholarStrange, Susan, ‘Who Runs World Shipping?’, in International Affairs (London), 52, 3, 07 1976, pp. 346–67;Google Scholar and Juda, Lawrence, ‘World Shipping, UNCTAD, and the New International Economic Order’, in International Organization (Cambridge, MA), 35, 3, Summer 1981, pp. 493516.Google Scholar

27 The full text of the ‘U.N. Convention on a Code of Conduct for Liner Conferences’ can be found in International Legal Materials (Washington, DC), 13, 1974, pp. 910–48.Google Scholar

28 Much support was given to this conclusion by Yeats, Alexander, Trade Barriers Facing Developing Countries: commercial policy measures and shipping (London and Basingstoke, 1979), particularly pp. 184–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

29 See Unctad, , Maritime Transport Review for Developing Africa, 1986 (New York, 1988), pp. 1921,Google Scholar and Juda, Lawrence, ‘Whither the UNCTAD Liner Code: the liner code review conference’, in Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce (Washington, DC), 21, 1, 01 1992, pp. 101–21.Google Scholar

Côte d'Ivoire has equally demonstrated as much vigour in supporting other treaties that seek to further regulate world shipping. For instance, it signed in April 1987 the U.N. Convention on Conditions for Registration of Ships that seeks to establish a genuine link between a ship and the state whose flag it flies, thereby introducing new standards of responsibility and accountabilities for the world shipping industry which currently is not the case with the predominance of ‘open registries’ or ‘flags of convenience’. As of May 1988, Côte d'Ivoire and Mexico were the only contracting parties to this U.N. treaty which requires 40, owning at least 25 per cent of the world tonnage, to enter into force.

30 Gohibi, Bernard, Ministerial Conference of West and Central African States on Maritime Transport: a presentation (Abidjan, 1988), p. 8.Google Scholar

31 Côte d'Ivoire's diplomatic activities during the 1970s could also be interpreted as an attempt to counter Nigeria's growing influence due to its oil wealth and leadership rôle in founding the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas). See Aluko, Olajide, ‘Oil at Concessionary Prices for Africa: a case-study in Nigerian decision-making’, in African Affairs, 75, 301, 10 1976, pp. 425–43;CrossRefGoogle ScholarOjo, Olatunde J. B., ‘Nigeria and the Formation of ECOWAS’, in International Organization, 34, 4, Autumn 1980, pp. 571604;Google ScholarBach, Daniel C., ‘The Politics of West African Cooperation: C.E.A.O. and E.C.O.W.A.S.’, in The Journal of Modern African Studies, 21, 4, 12 1980, pp. 605–23;CrossRefGoogle Scholar and Astain, Achi, ‘Regional Economic Integration and Foreign Policy’, in Zartman and Delgado (eds.), op. cit. pp. 175–218.Google Scholar

32 See Fadika, Lamine, Importance du rôle de la marine marchande dans l'essor et l'indépendance économique des nations (Abidjan, 1977), and loc. cit. 1978.Google Scholar Also, Gouvernal, Elisabeth, Politiques maritimes et développement: Côte d'Ivoire, Corée du sud (Paris, 1988).Google Scholar

33 Quoted in Rapley, John, Ivorien Capitalism: African entrepreneurs in Côte d'Ivoire (Boulder and London, 1993), p. 65.Google Scholar

34 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, pp. 216–17.

35 Ibid. pp. 221–4. Crook concludes that the problem of régime consolidation in Ghana derives largely from the historical potential of civil society to evade the long arms of the state.

36 Burgese, Elisabeth M. and Ginsburg, Norton (eds.), Ocean Yearbook 4 (Chicago, 1983), pp. 594–5.Google Scholar

37 ‘Côte d'Ivoire: vive la marine’, in Jeune Afrique économie (Paris), 137 11 1990, pp. 298302.Google Scholar

38 Dembele, Yaya, ‘Shipping, Trade and Development: the experience of Côte d'Ivoire’, in Obiozor, G. C., Ndekwu, E. C., Opara, C. O., and Otudor, F. E. (eds.), Shipping, Trade and Development in the West and Central African Sub-Region (Lagos, 1989), p. 84.Google Scholar

39 Africa South of the Sahara, 1992 (London, 1991), p. 428.Google Scholar

40 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, p. 221.

41 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 171, fn. I.

42 Rapley, op. cit. p. 145.

43 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, p. 222.

44 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 160.

45 ‘OIC: maîtrise du fret’, in Jeune Afrique économie, 137, 11 1990, pp. 370–2.Google Scholar

46 The ‘40–40–20 principle’ was adapted from the U.N. Code, whose Article 2(4a) states that when determining a share of trade within a liner conference, ‘the group of national shipping lines of each of two countries the foreign trade between which is carried out by the conference shall have equal rights to participate in the freight and volume of traffic generated by their mutual foreign trade and carried by the conference’. Section 4(b) further stipulates that ‘Third country shipping lines, if any, shall have the right to acquire a significant part, such as 20 percent, in the freight and volume of traffic generated by that trade.’ Developing countries and most shipping practitioners and scholars have interpreted this provision to mean that all conference cargoes should be divided according to the ‘40–40–20 principle’.Google Scholar

This means that in any given trade between two countries, 40 per cent of conference cargo is to be competed for by the conference lines of the importing country, 40 per cent by those of the exporting country, and 20 per cent is to be reserved for cross-traders or non-conference operators. See Gouvernal, op. cit. pp. 162–9, for a dispassionate description and discussion of the statutory functions of the O.I.C. and how it has actually enforced this cargo allocation policy.

47 See Iheduru, ‘Merchant Fleet Development by Legislation’, pp. 298–300.

48 Fairplay International Shipping Weekly (London), 302, 5416, 1987, p. 19,Google Scholar and Laidlaw, Ken, ‘Preparing for Expansion –After Years of Decline’, in Africa Economic Digest (London), 07 1989, pp. 23–4.Google Scholar

49 See Fadika, loc. cit. 1978, p. 29, and Ademuni-Odeke, , ‘Africa and International Shipping’, in Stone, Jeffrey C. (ed), Africa and the Sea. Proceedings of a Colloquium at the University of Aberdeen, March 1985 (Aberdeen, 1985), p. 393.Google Scholar

50 Givelet, Noël, ‘The Maritime Connection: the Ivory Coast has moved to gain more control over shipment of its exports and imports’, in Ceres. FAO Review on Agriculture and Development (Rome), 14, 3, 1981, pp. 3943.Google Scholar

51 These include the Société naval et commercial Delmas-Vieljeux, the Noermann Linie, the Nedlloyd Line, the Compagnie maritime belge, and the Société navale caennaise– the same foreign shipping lines against which the country's maritime nationalism was aimed.Google Scholar

52 Givelet, loc. cit.

53 See Morris, Michael A., ‘The Domestic Context of Brazilian Maritime Policy’ in Ocean Development and International Law (New York), 4, 2, 1977, pp. 143–70,Google Scholar and Iheduru, Okechukwu C., ‘A Critical Assessment of Nigeria's Shipping Policy and Its Implementation’, in Journal of Maritime Law and Commerce, 23, 4, 10 1992, pp. 547–83.Google Scholar

54 Golan, Tamar, ‘A Certain Mystery: how can France do everything that it does in Africa – and get away with it?’, in African Affairs, 80, 318, 01 1981, p. 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

55 See Fadika, Lamine, Rapport moral à la 2ème conférence ministerielle (1976); Position de la Côte d'Ivoire sur la constitution d'un “pool” sous-régional africain de cargaisons (1977); Problematique de la “liberté” traditionelle “des mers”’ (1977); Systèmes des transports maritimes développement et industrialisation des pays du tiers-monde (1977); Importance du rôle de la marine marchande dans l'essor et l'indépendance économique des nations (1977); Plaidoyer pour le code de conduite de la CNUCED (1979); and San Pedro: la politique portuaire ivoirienne et la politique maritime nationale (1980), all published by the Institut de documentation de recherches et d'études maritimes (Idrem), Abidjan.Google Scholar

56 Bakary, Tessilimi, ‘Elite Transformation and Political Succession’, in Zartman and Delgado (eds.), op. cit. p. 53.Google Scholar

57 See Givelet, loc. cit.

58 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 206.

59 Quoted in ibid.

60 Ibid. p. 162.

61 For instance, the new definition of a ‘national shipping line’ proposed in 1991 on behalf of the Group of 77 by Côte d'Ivoire's delegation corresponds to the practice in their own country, namely: ‘A national shipping line is a vessel-operating/carrier operating with its own vessels or on charter, either wholly or partially and recognized as such by the appropriate Authority of a country which has designated the said carrier to exercise, within a maritime trade, its rights of participation in freight and in volume of cargoes which form part of its foreign trade, with another country.’Google Scholar Quoted in Unctad, , Report of the Committee on Shipping (New York, 1991), p. 1. The existing text of the U.N. Code reads as follows: ‘A national shipping line of any given country is a vessel-operating carrier which has its head office of management and its effective control in that country and is recognized as such by an appropriate authority of that country or under the law of that country.’Google Scholar

62 O'Mahoney, Hugh, ‘UNCTAD Focus on West Africa’, in Containerisation International (London), 23, 2, 02 1989, p. 36.Google Scholar

63 Quoted in ibid. p. 37. See also, Gouvernal, op. cit. pp. 162–9.

64 O'Mahoney, loc. cit. p. 36.

65 Africa Economic Digest, 12, 29, 10 1991, p. 15.Google Scholar

66 Fairplay International Shipping Weekly, 315, 5646, 23 01 1992, p. 4.Google Scholar

67 On the merger of SNCDV and SCAC, see Canna, Elizabeth, ‘Delmas+SCAC = A Lock on West Africa’s, in American Shipper (Jacksonville, FL), 33, 10, 10 1991, pp. 30–1. For two accounts of the financial worth of SDV's maritime empire,Google Scholar see Damas, Philip, ‘Bollore: a financier with ideas’, in Containerisation International, January 1992, pp. 39–45, and ‘[Europe/West Africa] Shippers’ S.O.S.’,Google Scholar in Ibid. March 1992, p. 45; and Unachukwu, Obialo, ‘Are the Conferences Really Over?’, in African Maritime Economist (Lagos), 4, 9, 05 1992, pp. 21–4.Google Scholar

68 Fauré, loc. cit. p. 69.

69 Ibid. p. 61.

70 For a sampling of the unjustified self-adulation of Ivoirian officials even as their shipping industry might be described as virtually ‘sinking under their feet’, see Viel, Hughes (ed.), ‘Les Transports avec l'Afrique’, in Marchés tropicaux et méditerranéens, 39, 25 03 1983, pp. 689784;Google Scholar Martin Ndende, ‘Les Armements maritimes africains: bilan et perspectives de développement’, in ibid. 30 October 1987, pp. 2857–61; and ‘Côte d'Ivoire: le ciel et la mer’, in Jeune Afrique économic, 137, November 1990, pp. 260–401.

71 Derrick, Jonathan, ‘Trade Prospects in the Run Up to 1992 and 1994’ in Africa Economic Digest, 11, 38, 8 10 1990, p. 14. Obviously the decision to devalue the CFA by as much as 50 per cent lfl January 1994 will have an important impact on cross-border trade in general, and on cocoa in particular, between Ghana and Côte d'Ivoire.Google Scholar

72 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 173.

73 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, p. 236.

74 Ibid. p. 238, fn. 53. See ‘La Mer, nouvelle zone économique’, in Jeune Afrique économic, 137, 11 1990, pp. 302–3, for a biographic profile of Commandant Timit. It should be noted that Fadika was ‘rehabilitated’ and appointed Ministre des mines et industrie in the aftermath of Houphouët-Boigny's death in December 1993 and his replacement as President by Henri Konan Bedie.Google Scholar

75 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 207.

76 See Damas, loc. cit. p. 44.

77 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, p. 222.

78 Golan, loc. cit. p. 6.

79 Crook, loc. cit. 1991, p. 236.

80 Dembele, loc. cit. p. 89.

81 Ibid. p. 90.

82 The economic and political significance of the ‘cocoa élite’ is discussed by Hecht, loc. cit.

83 Dembele, loc. cit. p. 90.

84 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 207.

85 Ibid. p. 270.

86 ‘Côte d'Ivoire: vive la marine’, p. 301.

87 Gouvernal, op. cit. p. 173.

88 Dembele, loc. cit. p. 90.

89 Cf. Boone, ‘Commerce in Côte d'Ivoire’, pp. 91–2, even though the rest of her work is a masterpiece.Google Scholar

90 Hettne, Björn, Development in Three Worlds (London, 1990), p. 2.Google Scholar

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