Abidjan which was initially a fishing coastal village, developed economically after the construction of the Vridi Canal in 1951. The canal which connected the port and the lagoon to the sea led to many economic and commercial changes, making Abidjan a major trading sea port for European inland goods. This development also led to a tremendous growth in the city’s population which doubled up after erection of the canal.
A developing country, Côte d’Ivoire's main source of income comes from its export of crops such as coffee, cocoa, and timber. But a major drought in 1983-1984 and a decrease in prices of these crops led the country into an economic turmoil. The country has tried to come out of its dependency on agriculture by diversifying into other sectors, yet 60% of the population is reliant on agriculture.
The people of Abidjan have benefited from the Urban Master plan which has failed in many other African countries. But the migration of rural people and those from poor neighboring countries continue to bend the city’s economy.
Abidjan strong points remain its good transportation system and excellent network of roads maintained in a good condition. But a major concern is housing for its population with an increase of 200,000 people every year in need of a roof.
Abidjan is located on the Ébrié Lagoon and so water supply has never been a problem, but disposing of industrial and sewage waste has polluted the Lagoon. Even if the city’s drainage system is considered to be among the best, it is not been able to keep pace with the growth of the city.
To reduce pressure on Abidjan’s economy, political decentralization program was started in the 80’s. The program included creation of medium sized towns with good facilities to lure youngsters away from the city. Decision of shifting the capital to Yamoussoukrou, has also been a part of this plan. But even today, Abidjan prominence in the economic and commercial sector is much more than Yamoussoukrou.