Ivory Coast checkpoint bribes cost ‘$300m’

Rebel check-point (file photo)

Rebels took up arms in 2002 and agreed to share power three years ago

At least $300m (£200m) is paid in bribes at checkpoints in Ivory Coast each year, a business leader says.

“Every Ivorian today… has been asked to pay at a road-block,” Chamber of Commerce President Jean-Louis Billon told the BBC.

He blamed “mafias” operating within both the army and the former rebel New Forces, who still control northern Ivory Coast, for the extortion racket.

The two sides agreed to share power in 2007 but elections have been put back.

Checkpoints remain common on both sides of the country which has been divided since rebels took up arms in 2002.


Ivory Coast used to enjoy the highest living standards in West Africa but the political unrest has badly affected the economy.

Mr Billon told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the total amount paid in such bribes may be up to $600m (£400m).

This would be equivalent to more than 2% of the country’s economy.

Mr Billon said he was quoting a study by the World Bank.

He also said the racket was organised by senior members of both security forces and was not just poorly paid junior officials trying to get enough money to survive.

Mr Billon told Reuters news agency that the cost of charcoal was three times higher than necessary because of the bribes paid at checkpoints as it is transported into the country’s biggest city, Abidjan.

Reuters quotes an official in the defence ministry as saying that the check-points are illegal and being tackled.