Ivory Coast faces presidential elections with optimism, its economy bouncing back after decades of political turmoil and civil war. David Pollard reports.
It takes a strong risk appetite to build a luxury hotel in a country that, just a few years ago, was being torn apart by civil war. Though perhaps not much as you might think. The director of the new Radisson Blu in Abidjan, Hans-Peter Duerr. (SOUNDBITE) (French) HANS-PETER DUERR, DIRECTOR, NEW CARLSON REZIDOR GROUP HOTEL, SAYING: "We were very optimistic ... the economic numbers confirm that there is constant growth." Top hotels are nothing new - the Hotel Ivoire starts at 250 dollars a night - and is often booked out. But nor are the memories of conflict. Former president Laurent Gbagbo is in The Hague accused of crimes against humanity. Thousands died when Ivory Coast was plunged back into turmoil as he contested the result of an election in 2010. Analyst, Patrick Angouan. (SOUNDBITE) (French) PATRICK ANGOUAN, ECONOMIC ANALYST SAYING: "Ivory Coast is one of what we call 'fragile' African countries, because it not only still has UN peacekeepers on its soil, but also still carries a level of uncertainty when elections are held." But there is confidence in the man who succeeded Gbagbo. Allassane Ouattara faces a major test in a presidential election this month. Despite stubborn unemployment, investors are looking for an upward trend to continue. Investment promoter, Emmanuel Eslmel. (SOUNDBITE) (French) EMMANUEL ESLMEL, DIRECTOR, CEPICI (CENTRE FOR PROMOTION OF INVESTMENTS IN IVORY COAST), SAYING: "This year, our growth is about 15 to 17 percent ... Close to 6,000 businesses were created this year, compared to 3,000 last year." Argument enough for big Western brand names to set out their stalls. The latest among them: French retail giant Carrefour. Due to open a massive hypermarket in Abidjan next month - the first in sub-Saharan Africa.