After many years of colonial neglect and subordination to the needs of primary export agriculture, industry in the Ivory Coast only recently began to play a coordinate role as an independent element in the nation's economy. Its ouput in 1962 was dwarfed by that of agriculture, but its growth had been substantial and consistent for several years, and it was beginning to exert a stabilizing influence by diversifying production and reducing the country's dependence on imports for supply of manufactured goods.
Except for construction and the operation of the economic infrastructure, industrial activities in 1962 were mainly concerned with the production or processing of domestic minerals, timber, fish, food and industrial crops. The total output in these categories was valued at CFA F16.7 billion ($66.8 million) in 1960. Some durable consumer goods were manufactured for the local market, but most of the requirements for such goods and for capital equipment had to be met from foreign sources, and industry was capable of supplying only a small part of the other types of finished products for which there was a demand.
Although there was every indication in 1962 of continued and even accelerated industrial growth, the limited natural resources of the country are not very favorable for all-round development (see ch. 3, Geography and Population). Raw materials for steel production are lacking. Fuel for power has to be imported, and there is little prospect that domestic sources will be found. Water power has been put to limited use, but large-scale exploitation would be extremely expensive. Mineral resources are comparatively meager and are largely isolated by the lack of facilities for bulk transportation. On the other hand, the country is endowed with bountiful resources in timber, fish and agricultural products Which provide a significant natural base for industrialization during the foreseeable future.
Ever since the beginning of coloniȧl development, the country has been handicapped by an inadequate labor force (see ch. 20, Labor). The deficiency is particularly pronounced in the industrial field where illiteracy and a shortage of technical and managerial skills among African employees is an obstacle which has not yet been overcome. In the past, most of the positions which might have provided training and experience for an African industrial cadre were occupied by the French, who continued to dominate the scene in 1962. Some years must