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Why Ivory Coast's economic comeback could be brisk

Three economists interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor forecast Ivory Coast's annual economic growth to accelerate to an impressive 6 to 7 percent toward the end of 2011.

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Local residents celebrated the capture of former President Laurent Gbagbo in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, on Monday.

Rebecca Blackwell/AP

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Ivory Coast, today’s giant emergency, may be tomorrow’s emerging giant.

Or, the most fertile economy in West Africa could continue to endure low-scale civil war for weeks, months, or even a second decade to come.

This past week, the market bet on hope. Both the nation’s cash crop – cocoa – and slips of paper representing its long overdue debt traded at their most optimistic prices in months on news that rebels backing the elected president had finally captured the defiant former president who plunged the county back into civil war with his refusal to step down after losing the Nov. 28 election.

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Three economists interviewed by The Christian Science Monitor forecast annual economic growth in the utterly disarrayed economy, West Africa’s second largest, to accelerate to an impressive 6 to 7 percent toward the end of 2011, as shopkeepers rush to fill looted shelves, and workers reboot desktops in vacant offices.

That postwar boom would rank Ivory Coast among the top 15 fastest growing economies of 2012.

Indeed, if elected President Alassane Ouattara – effectively installed last week by rebel soldiers – can bring peace to his country, economists say this erstwhile star of Africa could be reborn.

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