Ivory Coast leader seeks to entice Tidjane Thiam back


Click to follow
The Independent Online

Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister says he hopes his fellow countryman, Tidjane Thiam – the outgoing chief executive of the Prudential – will one day return to the country of his birth to serve the government.

Ivorian Mr Thiam earlier this month announced he was quitting the insurance giant to run the Credit Suisse bank in Geneva.

Speaking at the Africa CEO Forum in Geneva, Daniel Kablan Duncan, the Ivory Coast’s Prime Minister, said he was pleased to see Mr Thiam progress in his career abroad.

Mr Duncan compared the outgoing Pru boss to Didier Drogba and Yaya Touré, the Premier League footballers, but said he hoped “one day” he would return.

“He is still young,” he said. “He can gain experience and then come back to the Ivory Coast.”

Mr Thiam was a minister in a previous Duncan government. Mr Duncan said Mr Thiam offers him advice when he visits London, as the country recovers from a decade of civil unrest.

Drogba, who plays for Chelsea, has been a particularly good ambassador for the country, both calling for calm, and investing money to support the country’s gold mining industry.

“This was good for us because it showed Ivorians are investing in the Ivory Coast again,” Mr Duncan said.

The Ivorian Prime Minister also addressed problems at Tullow Oil, which last month warned it may have to suspend drilling off Ghana because the Ivory Coast was claiming rights over part of the concession.

Mr Duncan said the dispute – which wiped 8 per cent off Tullow’s London-listed shares – was a result of the former government failing to safeguard the Ivory Coast’s interests.

“We went through some turmoil in the Ivory Coast from 2000 to 2010. There was another government and they didn’t take enough care of the border. And our friends from Ghana began to do exploitation there. But some parts are, according to our views, in the Ivory Coast.”

He said his government had been surprised that a joint agreement had suddenly been referred by Ghana to an international court for judgment.