Greenwich Mean Time Zone UTC+00:00
Capital City Yamoussoukro
Currency West African CFA Franc XOF
National Day 7 August
Ambassador of Côte d’Ivoire Her Excellency Mrs Sara Amani recalls the “momentous day” she was appointed Ambassador to the UK. “This is a high-profile diplomatic post, which is now occupied by a woman for the first time. I would like to express my gratitude to the highest Ivorian authorities who have invested their confidence in me.” She hopes her diplomatic activities will offer her “opportunities to discover the different regions of the UK and the great outdoors. Admiring the beauty of nature can provide great moments of healing and contemplation.”
It was during her studies in Public Law at Alassane Ouattara University in Bouaké that Mrs Amani first dreamt of embracing a diplomatic career. Learning about international relations, economics and public international law sparked her interest, and she applied to the National School of Administration of Côte d’Ivoire in 1999.
Her start at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as a research officer in the Africa Directorate allowed her “to understand the richness and complexity of bilateral cooperation, and the nobility of the diplomatic vocation.” In 2003 came Mrs Amani’s first post abroad, a decade long appointment to her country’s Embassy in Brussels. Also accredited to Luxembourg, Netherlands and the European Union, she was responsible for multilateral political issues, European institutions, regional and intra-ACP cooperation and sustainable development. A post-electoral crisis in Côte d’Ivoire in 2011 led to Mrs Amani’s appointment as Chargé d’Affaires, which left her with conflicting emotions. “I was a simple embassy advisor, with great respect and admiration for my superior. But overnight, they were dismissed, and I was appointed in their place.” She recalls: “I so appreciated the honour, but there was a big job to do in terms of procedures and action to be taken against a background of relentless struggles between raging factions both in Côte d’Ivoire and in Brussels. Today,” she comments, “I can only give glory to Almighty God who guided me and allowed me to accomplish my mission as best I could during this delicate period.”
Back in Côte d’Ivoire, Mrs Amani was Director of the America and Caribbean Department (2013-17), before a position at the Embassy in Israel. She has “fond memories of Israel’s contrasting landscapes, the timeless character of its holy places and its economic dynamism. Our cooperation is particularly focused on areas of health, agriculture, science and technology.” She had a hand in organising MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation’s contribution to training agronomy students from the National Polytechnic Institute Houphouët Boigny.
Now in London, the Ambassador notes “The global health crisis has profoundly affected our way of life and work. Diplomacy, normally a place of exchange and contact, is forced to reinvent itself through virtual meetings and conferences. I hope that scientists will manage to loosen the grip of this pandemic to allow humanity to return to normal.”
She notes “the excellent friendship and cooperation between Côte d’Ivoire and the UK since diplomatic relations were established in 1960.” Her mission will be “to deepen relations between the two countries with particular emphasis on strengthening ties with the private sector. We invite the British private sector to take advantage of the reforms undertaken in Côte d’Ivoire to improve the business environment, by investing in agro-industry, energy, mines and infrastructure sectors. Côte d’Ivoire is known as the largest producer of cocoa in the world, but a lesser-known fact is that it is also the largest producer of cashew nuts, and we want to bring the British market closer. We will also focus our efforts on diversifying relations in the cultural, educational, technical, health and tourism fields.”
The Ambassador believes the post-Brexit period offers, “a good window of opportunity for bilateral cooperation to intensify.” Her experience of the framework of trade between Côte d’Ivoire and the EU, “is a precious asset for this mission.” She was enthused by Boris Johnson’s “willingness to get closer to Africa demonstrated at the UK – Africa Investment Summit, as well as the growing interest of British business in the Côte d’Ivoire market.” Last October, her country signed an Interim Economic Partnership Agreement with the UK, “which constitutes a favourable framework for building a renewed and stronger bilateral relationship.”
In the run up to COP26 next November, the Ambassador notes that Côte d’Ivoire “reaffirms its commitment to work internally and in cooperation with other nations to safeguard the common good for the planet. At COP25, Côte d’Ivoire reaffirmed its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 28 per cent by 2030. Today, the government shows a clear desire to be more ambitious with a long-term trajectory towards Net Zero. However, certain issues need to be resolved in order for African countries to move forward that include access to climate finance.”
What does she think is Côte d’Ivoire’s greatest diplomatic challenge? “To build a modern Côte d’Ivoire, with a prominent place in the concert of nations. We must make Côte d’Ivoire a country that is integrated into the world economy and works with its neighbours to strengthen regional cooperation.”
Ambassador of Equitorial Guinea Mrs Mari Cruz Evauna Andeme writes an account inspired by this year’s Africa Day theme of ‘Female Rights and Equality’