The first candidate

I couldn’t help being amused by reading about the first presidential candidate to drop off his papers at the electoral commission in Abidjan. It turned out to be a certain Eloi Bolou Gouali.

No, I haven’t heard of him either. This dark horse doesn’t appear to have any presence on social media. From the photo, he looks in his early 40s, if not 30s, with a receding hairline and a slight build. In his official declaration, he said his candidature would be for stability and he would ‘fight for victory’.

As for the paperwork, you need a leglised declaration, tax form, nationality certificate, proof of no criminal record etc – according to reports in the press Mr Eloi had none of these and his handwritten declaration had not been legalised. The 20 million CFA ($40,000) deposit was not provided either.

I’d love to know more about this guy – clearly he’s too minor to be showing his political muscle like bigger names from 2010 and 2015 who might win a place at the table even if they have no chance of becoming the next head of state. Did he have a cause to thrust into the limelight? Seems unlikely give the limited statement he made, and the failure to exploit any of the free online platforms. Would love to know why people do this.

Posted in Politics | Leave a comment

Reading the comments

Reading the comments section of anything online can be pretty depressing, no matter how high-brow the platform. Nevertheless, it was particularly disappointing to read the comments on this news article on an opposition rally in Yopougon yesterday.

The news event itself was reasonably good news, and heralded as such: a modest sized opposition rally with (I understand it) no trouble to speak of. Of course, it shows in part that the government are hardly quaking at the thought of the opposition’s threat in October’s polls, and opposition speaker, Mamadou Koulibaly, said as much. But hopefully it also shows that people are prepared to let politics take place in a more reasonable context – previous attempts to hold meetings in the same place had seen clashes with pro-Ouattara youths and security forces. Whether the anti-opposition feeling was top-down or bottom-up was hard to tell, but there was clearly a lot of bitterness.

What the comments section on the article shows, is a particular hardline set of opinions from what one would assume to be overseas Gbagbo militants (I suspect they would call themselves ‘patriots’). The believe the following:

– Ouattara is the worst possible leader any country could ever have

– France put Ouattara in power and he’s given them complete control of the country

– Gbagbo clearly won the 2010 election, and is innocent of all charges

– No Ivorian could ever support Ouattara

– Ouattara is a radical Islamist persecuting Christians

With the exception of the third point, Gbagbo supporters I know in Cote d’Ivoire, wouldn’t echo these thoughts. Do the writers themselves believe it, or is it just an organised political campaign? I suspect a bit of the latter, but also a fair dose of the former. The Ivorian crisis was marked by a strong ideological strand, witnessed in the ‘parliaments’ and ‘agoras’, which gave a particularly visceral edge to the dispute and subsequent violence.

These debates seem like relics of the 2004. In 2015, if you wanted to criticise the Ivorian government, there are certainly grounds to do so for those who are so inclined, and if the opposition are to win a future election, they will need to focus on these points to really hit home. These include the major problems in the education sector, power cuts, the lack of jobs, continuing corruption and persistent poverty. Perhaps the aim for now is to keep a core of militants in the game by speaking to traditional issues, and then when they again become a serious challenge in future elections (2020?) to broaden the appeal with a different message.

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Ivory Coast in the rankings

At the start of the Ouattara presidency, blogger Hotel Ivory said that the various global rankings would be a good way to measure the success or failure of the new government. So with the election now just four months off, how did things go? It’s been interesting that the government itself has prioritized improving Cote d’Ivoire’s rank as a key aim, especially as it seeks to attract investors. Note this paragraph from the government’s recent ‘Letter of Intent’

“Reforms aimed at improving the business climate, transparency, good governance and competitiveness will continue to be pursued proactively. Such reforms should place Côte d’Ivoire in the upper 50% of countries ranked at the top of the World Bank’s Doing Business ranking, Transparency International’s anti-corrupting ranking and the global competitiveness ranking issued by the World Economic Forum. They should also allow Côte d’Ivoire to rise considerably in the UNDP’s human development ranking”

In a dream world, like standardized tests, rankings would help us get an objective view on government performance. In reality of course, statistics can hide as much as they reveal, and many things just can’t be captured, however good your proxies. In addition, rankings can be about giving the message that ‘Cote d’Ivoire should be like Switzerland or Singapore’, when of course the country is and never will be anything like those places and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s not always helpful to view lower ranked countries as ‘Singapore minus X’.

Anyway, with that in mind, below is some data that I’ve picked out from the web. If there’s an overall theme, it’s that the country is improving, though it remains a long way down most lists (out of the top 50% so far except in football and press freedom), and often a long way off two West African countries I’ve picked out as useful comparisons: Ghana and Senegal. There may be some time lags as well, but the rankings do give the impression that Cote d’Ivoire is a pretty sub-standard country to live in if you were looking around the continent, when my personal view would be that it’s well above average in terms of development, living standards and business.


Transparency International’s Perception of Corruption Index

2010 – 146th

2011 – 154th

2012 – 130th

2013 – 136th

2014 – 115th (Ghana = 61st, Senegal = 69th)


World Press Freedom Index (RSF)

“After a deep fall from 2010 to 2012, Côte d’Ivoire rose sharply in the 2015 index as it continued to emerge from the political and social crisis caused by the civil war in late 2010. Radio and TV broadcasting is due to be opened up to the private sector in 2015 but there is concern that the process will include provisions for censorship. There is no shortage of media diversity but the media are very partisan and lack independence. The National Communication Council is not independent of the government and tends to use a heavier hand with opposition newspapers than pro-government ones. This tendency must be monitored in 2015 in an effort to avoid the appalling post-election media excesses of 2011.”

2010 – 118th

2011 – n/a

2012 – 96th

2013 – 96th

2014 – 101st

2015 – 86th (Ghana = 22nd, Senegal = 71st)


Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG)

I don’t seem to be able to get rankings for previous years. But Ivory Coast’s score out of 100 has been 36.2 (2010), 38.4 (2011), 42.4 (2012), 44.3 (2013), 44.3 (2014).

2014 – 40th (Ghana = 7th, Senegal = 9th)


Doing Business Report (DBR)

The DBR has been THE key global rankings indicator that the government has decided to focus energies on, settling out to be in the world’s top 50. For the last two years the country has been in the top ten biggest improvers. While the Ivorian media has focused on this, what’s often hidden is the lowly global rank of the country (147th in 2015).

2010 – 168th

2011 – 169th

2012 – 170th

2013 – 177th

2014 – 158th (originally 167th)

2015 – 147th (Ghana = 70th, Senegal = 161st)


Global Competitiveness Index (WEF)

2010-11 – 129th

2011-12 – 129th

2012-13 – 131st

2013-14 – 126th

2014-15 – 115th (Ghana = 111st, Senegal = 112nd)


Human Development Index (HDI)

I don’t seem to be able to get rankings for previous years. But Ivory Coast’s score out of 100 has been 0.439 (2010), 0.443 (2011), 0.448 (2012), 0.452 (2013).

2013 – 171st (Ghana = 138th, Senegal = 163rd)


FIFA World football rankings (January rankings)

2010 – 22nd

2011 – 21st

2012 – 18th

2013 – 14th

2014 – 23rd

2015 – 29th

Posted in Economics, Politics | 2 Comments

Latest IMF publications on Cote d’Ivoire – facts and figures

The publication of IMF country reports on Cote d’Ivoire is just about the only time of the year when you can really get hold of decent statistics and information on the performance of the Ivorian economy, and government economic management. Of course, we do well to remember Morten Jerven’s warnings about the reliability of data on the continent, but keeping that in mind, it’s still about all we’ve got.

So what do we learn? To save you wading through the documents, I picked up some of the key facts below from the government side of thing. It’s always worth bearing in mind that you get two long documents at the same time – the government’s Letter of Intent, and then a review by IMF staff. The former has the tendency to look at things in a rosy light, while the latter is still diplomatic but is more hard-hitting about what the IMF wishes the country were doing more of. So, starting with the former document, I’ll cite the stats that jumped out, and then I’ll move on to the Staff Report.


Stats from Cote d’Ivoire government’s Letter of Intent:

– GDP per capita up by more than 21 percent over last three years (2012-14)
Expectation of 9.4% growth rate in 2015 with inflation at 1.7%. [Interesting as this is the restart of acceleration since the immediate post-crisis bounce back in 2012.]
– Investment expected to rise from 16.1% of GDP in 2014 to 18.6% in 2015 (10.7% of which from private sector)
– GDP growth rates have been 10.7% (2012), 9.2% (2013), 8.5% (2014)
– 40% increase in Foreign Direction Investment 2012-2014
– 43,393 increase in net jobs (formal employment rose 6.2%). Formal jobs 2014 = 799,890
– Growth was driven by primary and tertiary sector (industrial sector continues to be the laggard, which is a little worrying given this is key to ‘emergence’)
– Food prices down (-2.1%) and transport prices also down (-0.4%)
– Trade balance in surplus, terms of trade improved by 3.2%
– Credit to the private sector increased by 27.4% [this is positive – a key frustration in the private sector is the difficulty of obtaining bank loans]
– WAEMA (the West Africa CFA monetary zone) growth was 7%
– BRVM stock market capitalization rose 11.4% and trading volumes increased 75.6%
– 6,487 new businesses created last year
– The average time for procurement, from examination of the call for tender documents to approval of contracts, decreased from 322 days at end-2013 to 126 days at end-2014.
– More than 15,000 classrooms built since 2012. The gross school enrollment rate increased from 76.2 percent in 2008 to 94.7 percent in 2014.

Two sentences jumped out at me from the government report that I thought a good number of Ivorians might question:

“On the political front, political institutions, such as the Independent Electoral Commission, have been reinforced and have the confidence of all political parties and the civil society.”

And then a sentence that’s not entirely clear but seems to indicate the Ivorians saying their economy is bigger than Ghana, which isn’t true from the measures that I see (though it could also be interpreted as saying the opposite):

“reclaimed its position as the second largest economy of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) after Nigeria”

For Ivorians interested in the recent announcement that electricity prices seem set to rise, the document is the best source of information on the reasons for this. [A clue – look up HVO (Heavy Vacuum Oil).]


So now on to the IMF staff report…

The overall summary reads as follows:

“Performance under the Fund-supported program continued to be strong. Over 2012–14, the growth in real GDP per capita has reached 20 percent. All performance criteria and all but one indicative targets for end-2014 were met. Significant progress has been made toward improving the business climate and the tax administration, and some inroads have been made towards public bank restructuring.

The fiscal stance for 2015 remains appropriate despite emerging budgetary pressures. The planned adjustments to the 2015 budget, which include additional revenues and spending cuts should allow to contain the overall deficit to 3.7 percent of GDP. Despite these adjustments, the budget remains broadly growth-friendly and pro-poor, with significant increases in public investment and poverty-reduction expenditures. The recent discovery of extra-budgetary spending is worrisome. However, the April 23, 2015 Communication by the Council of Ministers reaffirming that extra-budgetary spending should be avoided is welcomed, as is the government’s commitment to forcefully apply the provisions of the 1998 decree aimed at avoiding extra-budgetary spending, including through sanctions.”

Some bullet points…

– Major risks – political / social tensions especially around the upcoming election.

– Growth in 2014 seems to have been 7.9%, but 1.3% points of that comes from a reported 74% increase in cassava production (which seems a little strange).

– Some small banks continue to be below the regulatory minimum capital adequacy ratios.

– An interesting graph with figures from Bloomberg shows 10-year bond yields for Cote d’Ivoire are below those for other frontier market economies (Kenya, Ethiopia, Senegal and Zambia).

– If off-budget expenditure (private schools + military fuel) had been included in the government financial data, performance targets wouldn’t have been met (or rather adjustments would have needed to be made in order to hit targets).

– Delays in three areas of structural reforms – financial sector reform strategy implementation, reorganizing public debt department, and paying domestic arrears.

– The IMF’s growth predictions are considerably lower than the governments – 7.9% in 2015. As a reminder, the government sees 9.4% growth in 2015. The government seems to predict a big increase in private sector investment once the election goes smoothly (and the Ebola outbreak ends in the region). The IMF sees that as too uncertain to be included.

– There’s been a bit of concern about public debt levels among the political opposition and the general public. The IMF says it’s around 43% of GDP. Debt servicing levels are rising to around 13% (from 10.8% in 2014).

– The IMF thinks there are few external and internal risks to growth.

– There’s an interesting side-bar explainer on the automatic fuel price mechanism, which includes the detail that above a certain level, petrol prices subsidize diesel prices (politically sensitive). It also says that not all international fuel price drops have been passed on, leading to the potential of greater than expected fuel tax revenue.

– Private companies complained to the IMF that it was taking a long time for the government to pay them, and that they were being harassed by the tax department, allegations the government denies.

– Petroci and SIR don’t seem in amazing shape. In fact the oil sector has performed well below promised.

– The government says it’s aware of weaknesses in the statistical department – it is requesting technical support.



If you’ve made it just far, I’ll just say that plenty of reforms seem to be being carried out, which should leave public institutions much stronger when Ouattara steps down in 2020.

Posted in Economics | Leave a comment

Student life in Abidjan under Ouattara

Since I wrote last week’s post listing Ivorian blogs, I realised that much of the recent blogging action has been on RFI’s Mondoblog platform, which I’d more or less neglected. I’ve since discovered that that does now seem to be the location of choice for new Ivorian bloggers. One of the picks of my recent discoveries there is Au Pays des Elephants (‘In the land of the elephants’), which has an excellent new six part series on life as a student in Abidjan. It really shows the strength of blogging – giving the space and time to talented writers (who are living these realities) to express themselves on issues that are ignored or marginalized by the mainstream media.

Some of you may remember that the state universities were in a pitiable state after the 2010-11 post-election crisis, having been used as a base for Gbagbo’s Liberian militias, and being a hotpot from the militia-like student movement, the Fesci. Post-crisis, student halls were used to house the Ouattara forces, and indeed some of these irregular forces have only been booted out in the past three weeks in Abobo and Port Bouet. The Ouattara government invested a fair bit in a massive refurbishment (reportedly around 100 billion CFA francs), which changed the look of the university (as I documented here), but which has still left things far from satisfactory. It’s possible some of the money was diverted. It’s possible to conclude from reading this blog series that almost nothing has improved.

The current state of student life is well-documented by Aly Coulibaly at ‘Au pays des elephants’. His series of posts cover:

– Poor adaption of new LMD system

– The daily combat of finding a wifi connection [a first world problem perhaps]

– The ridiculous state of student transport

– Corruption in the distribution of the now tiny student grants

– You have to queue for hours to get your subsidised student meal, and even then the quality leaves much to be desired

– The landscape gardening seems to get more attention than the students

Behind the sadness of the current state of student life, what’s apparent in the blog posts is the continued existence of a nostalgia that was ever-present in the years of decline (1980s and 1990s) but which still seems today – to my surprise – to be strong. That is, that student life in the 1960s and 70s was a paradise now lost, in which students were looked-up to, well served and on a track to a future career in state employment. Sadly the realism that these days are long gone, doesn’t yet seem to have settled in.

That leads me to think that a wide-scale reflection on higher education in Ivory Coast has yet to take place. Is it realistic to expect the state to provide massively subsidized housing, transport, food and education to the tens of thousands of Ivorians who pass their BAC exams every year? Is the dream still practical that any farmers’ son can graduate from school (even if he just scrapes through) and expect the state to look after him for the next three years, so that he can join the unemployed ranks of sociology graduates and others with degrees in their pocket, and limited professional skills? Of course, the Ivorian model is heavily influenced by France which still heavily subsidizes higher education (tuition fees are around 300-400 euros a year).

Perhaps more importantly though, the blog highlights the continued corruption, incompetence, and lack of organisation in the sector, while at the same time Ivorians are constantly told on state media that they’re living in a modern paradise.

Posted in Education, Politics | Leave a comment

Disquiet in the Elephants’ camp

If the last few days have revealed that there’s something seriously wrong with the way world football is managed, it’s also seen revelations of a similar sort in the Ivorian game. It’s been worrying to see the damage done by the Afcon missing bonuses affair. This week star defender Serge Aurier spoke out to Jeune Afrique saying that he was sad to see coach Herve Renard leave the Ivorian national team for Lille: “The problem is that the federation [FIF] has done nothing to keep him. He wasn’t given all that he needed to work. In some ways, he was forced to take this decision [to leave]…One has the impression that there are some people in Cote d’Ivoire who think more of their own interests rather than the collective.”

He went on to say: “There are some people – among the people who manage Ivorian football – who don’t respect the team and all that we did in Equatorial Guinea. We put in effort to bring back the Afcon trophy and where is the gratitude?”

“This issue of the bonuses and the departure of Renard makes me think twice. I have no desire to come and play for the Elephants and be troubled by these sorts of problems. We’ve been betrayed by certain people.”

The signs are that not-so-hidden beneath the surface the Ivorian game is badly run. At one level you have the big games, with the big international stars, and a top coach. But below that the other national teams don’t perform nearly as well. It would have been great to have Herve Renard stay on and develop the local game. The local derby of Asec v Africa Sport will finish in the next few minutes in Abidjan but without the massive crowds this fixture used to attract. Ivorian club teams no longer create much fear on a continental level, even compared to what they used to achieve during the political crisis when finances were especially tight.

Posted in Sport | Leave a comment

Ivorian blog list

It felt that blogging went through a quiet patch in Ivory Coast but I now find I’m discovering several new blogs from Abidjan every week. I looked in the ‘Ivory Coast’ category on my RSS Reader and realised I follow close to 300 different feeds. The Association of Bloggers from Cote d’Ivoire is working on a reference for all the blogs that are out there, but given it seems to be taking a while, I thought it might be good to publish my full list. I can’t claim I have captured 100% of Ivorian blogs (or blogs that touch on Ivorian things), but I think I’ve got most people out there. The feeds below range from online magazines to Flickr feeds, website links and more traditional websites. With time, I’d like to organise this page into categories including highlight blogs in English, and those that are most worth following, so keep returning. Most of the content below is of course in French.

My personal must follows…

Rythmes d’Afrique, Racines

Le blog de Yehni Djidji

L’audiovisuel et moi…


Mohamed Diaby

Le blog de André Silver Konan

Yeye magazine


Macmady on Ze Web!!!


A (un en anglais) kaléidoscope de moi




My Library

Akwaba Culture

Blog Poésies : La poésie la danse des mots sur le son de vers croisés

MES Cinemas


Des Mots, Des Images

Le Blog de Armand Brice TCHIKAMEN


Afriwood, by Yehni Djidji




Le Grognon


Dekotch Energy



Fall in Mode (webzine)


Princie (in French and English)

Kita by Amenan Tanoh

Fanta , The Geek Model


Black Supermodels Chronicles


Le blog de chicenpagne


OMG! I Love Your Hair


Karhol Talks Fashion



Monsieur PøCkpä



A Unix mind in Windows world

Mon regard d’africain sur le LIBRE …

L’actu web d’Edith

Jean-Patrick Ehouman’s blog

Nandaseye – News TIC 2 Babi

News TIC de babi

Les WebNews2Babi


Commentaires sur


Lôr Bouôr

Le Blog de Aboukam



Joana Choumali

Uploads from nabil zorkot

Samuel Ouedraogo Behance

Samuel Ouedraogo blog

My Black Rainbow

Flickr Uploads from Heliicaa

Christophe Cabrol • Tälib • Graphiste

Noella Photography

Work Photographer


Uploads from NIMBA

Vimeo / Samuel Timothée OUEDRAOGO’s uploaded videos

samuelwed’s recent photos



photoblog | abi’jan

Photos:Reality Of Life

We are Rize


Art, crafts and food…

Abidjan Art Festival

Artisans of Abidjan

AFLÉ Bijoux – Créations Akan

Art Design and Beauty


Abidjan Gourmand



Travel and going out…

Journal d’une Foodie


Commentaires pour Journal d’une Foodie…

Le blog de JacKouao

Le carnet de voyage Miss CI 2015


Queen’s discotheque


In English…

Drogba’s Country (of course!)

An African Story – Sarah Clavel


Until Our Independence

Phil in the Blank – A Travel Blog

Tamasin Ford – freelance journalist

Virgina Ryan (artist)

Friends of Abidjan Zoo


…including some that are no longer active but were great in their time and worth reading through the archives…

Hotel Ivory

West Africa Wins Always

Attiekeland (no longer Abidjan based)

third rate in the tropics (no longer Abidjan based)

Divided Ivory Coast: One Village Votes




Le Blog de Christian H. ROLAND




Le monde de la femme entrepreneure


Les derniers articles publiés sur LASCO MENUISERIE ALUMINIUM – Centerblog



The African Marketer




Politics | Le site officiel de Jean-Louis BILLON

Blog Note Hamed BAKAYOKO

Mamadou Koulibaly

Le Blog Du Maire

Le blog de Théophile Kouamouo

Blog Des Bons Petits D’Hambak

Le Nouveau Courrier


Misc (personal, women’s, citizen journalism, sport, etc)

Le Blog de Priscanad

Blog de Fernand Dedeh


Avenue 225



La Case de Vanessa

Et si on parlait radio


ELISEE YAO Actrice -Animatrice télé – Scénariste- Chanteuse – Ambassadrice


Le Blog de Vanessa LECOSSON


Les derniers articles publiés sur et si tu optais pour la faybulosy



Beaucoup de nous

Je cherche encore


Lign’ Emotion


le blog d’Alain Landry

Le volontaire

Que Se Passe T’il Dans La Vie Des Ados

le blog de hilaire KOUAKOU

Le blog de Yefite!


AMN Coworking Space

Blog Mistral

E-learning et autres…


L´actualité people africaine et Afrocaribéenne en continu sur Undeplus



Le blog de Edwige GBOGOU



Kam Pascaline

Journal d’une Foodie (old version)


Pretty escapade



L’Actu Web d’Edith (old site)


Les derniers articles publiés sur Le blog de OUMAR NDAO (Et Crie Vain)

Yes 2012 – Yakro E-School 2012 blog


Une autre histoire…

Reflet D’Ivoire



Tribune libre




liberté d’expression

Les Merveilles De l’Ennui

Chroniques de femmes enceintes, de mères, de parent de Côte d’Ivoire

Benjamin YOBOUET|Votre blog social…

Carla dans tous les sens

L’observatoire des médias,de la pub et des grandes campagnes com en CI

Le blog de Latty

Méli-Mélo d’une Intello


Blog De Behem


Le blog d’Amévi

*C’est La Vie! Life!*

fabrice bohouanassé

Le blog d’Emmanuel DABO

Ivory Coast Traveller

Freeloading Traveler

Le Blog de MRTIC

La déchirure

Le Blog de Sahi

Tout le design en mode Karismatik….

Humeurs DeIRIE

de Seth KOKO

L’Evangile de Richman Mvouama

Zeu Blog Auf Serge AGUIE

sarah KR


Le blog de Noella Elloh





Le Blog de Wonseu

le blog de Isaac Gnamba

Chez EuD


Sam City


Papier Genique


Abidjan Amanda


Le village de KWAGNE

Une Passion , Un Essentiel , Un Besoin …

Le blog de Hil Fab

Les chroniques de Sapitou

Le Blog de Ceschod

Le Blog de Yoro

Old Fanta blog

Yapaud vous dit "Akwaba&quot

Le Blog de Frédéric GORÉ BI

Alleen’s Wear – Derniers articles

***Une Ivoirienne A Paris***

Le Blog de Pticoeur

Intelgeo blog

Le blog de re7creative


Business de la Mode [Beta]

Le Blog de Marck_Andy

Yes!! I’m Jennifer and it’s my life (*_*)

Allo Cordonnier

L’autre regard

Mia Faker’s Way – Blog mode Angers, lifestyle, musique, et beauté aussi

Fleure’s World

Awed to heaven, rooted in Cote d’Ivoire

Dans Ma "Cabeza&quot

Grac’ee K. Coulibaly | Une Envie: partager mes pensées avec vous

Global Grazers

Histoires sans tabou

Résultat Election Présidentielle 2010 – Cote d’Ivoire

Nappy Diary


A Grand Adventure

Le Blog de Toussiné – Activiste et Web Entrepreneur Africain


Le blog d’Alexise Evelyne

Le Blog de Kimboo l’Abidjanais

Inside Abidjanshow.Com


The African Marketer

Le blog de

Académie Internet: Culture Informatique, Technologie web et Formations

Le blog de l’Inconnue

the Abidjaner

Les derniers articles publiés sur M…

Le blog de Kan Julien


Uploads from PIN( )KIO


Les carnets de Ndeye – Afrique, Blog, Journal, LifeStyle…



Abidjan by Night

Les aventures de Yoyo

The Ivory Coast Blog


Eltia Blog

Les Découvertes d’Aamlorie

Of nomads and stories

Polman déblogue

Venance Konan la force de la plume

Blog de Cyriac GBOGOU

La Vie à Cocody

Le blog de

Enitaya’s Blog

Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire & autres voyages…

Le Blog de Pticoeur


Silence brisé…

Famchocolat (old site)

Posted in Web | 7 Comments

The rise of the female Ivorian blogger

According to my Feedly RSS reader, I follow 279 bloggers in the ‘Ivory Coast’ category, and it’s a number I’m regularly adding to (of course many accounts are inactive). Sadly there isn’t an online directory of the Ivorian blogosphere, though the Association of Bloggers in Cote d’Ivoire promises something very soon. But I was struck recently by something quite interesting – the vast majority of regular Ivorian bloggers are women. Looking through my feed of latest articles from a little over the last 24 hours I have blog posts from Amenan, Prisca, Manuella, Mariam, Guiliane, Vanessa, Yehni, Aida, Edith, and Orphelie.

Just five years ago this was far from the case, with just pioneers Edith Brou and Ghislaine Atta the notable names on the scene, though essentially in what might stereotypically be considered male dominated areas (respectively technology, and science). Instead in the early days we had a leading brand of Ivorian male bloggers, with a heavy focus on politics and the Ivorian crisis. It’s refreshing that things have changed. Before there were specific efforts to get women to blog. Now perhaps any positive discrimination needs to go the other way.

To some extent, the stereotypes follow through; women bloggers are often covering things like fashion, beauty, health, literature, culture, society, and leisure activities. Tech, business and politics are key topics chez les hommes. For my part, I’m far more interested in the former topics, and almost all my favourite Ivorian bloggers are women, who also seem to have more staying power too.

I would suspect that if you looked at literature classes and computer classes at university in Abidjan you’d see expected gender divides. This morning I saw photos of the participants in a new exciting intiative called ‘ALLDEVCAMP 2015′ by local web organisation Akendewa to train young people in coding for several months. All those taking part are men.

Posted in Culture, Web | 1 Comment

Electricity hikes

The announcement of an electricity bill increase last week by President Ouattara during a visit to Odienne in the far north-west quickly provoked a strong reaction on social media. Beyond the fact that no-one likes to see their utility bills go up, April saw large-scale disruption to the electricity supply in Abidjan as repairs were carried out, leaving bill-payers already frustrated.

Ivorian blogger Yehni Djidji gives a very articulate account of the arguments against the price hike on her blog, namely that:

– the service offered by the national electricity company, CIE, is subject to frequent interruptions i.e. sub-standard

– that the bills already include extra charges like payment for public tv (poor quality) and waste collection (which doesn’t happen in her area)

– that it will bring further suffering on poor households

– that a price hike represents a failure of government, which can no longer be excused by the conflict or the previous poor management of the former regime

– that it shows the government is out of touch

– that Cote d’Ivoire sells electricity to neighbouring countries where customers pay less for their electricity

In response to these complaints, the government already seems to have pushed back the introduction of these charges from 1 June till 1 July. Of course no-one knows how much the prices will rise by, which suggests that the government is testing the water on the subject, which should encourage those wanting to protest the hikes.

There are nevertheless some arguments on the government side (made here), which are worth reiterating, as few people seem to be making them elsewhere.

– 40% of (the poorest) subscribers won’t be touched by the rise (around 522,000) so those least able to pay won’t be hurt by this

– the government wants to avoid Cote d’Ivoire falling into the same trap as other countries who haven’t had the political courage to reduce energy subsidies and so have derailed their economies

– that Cote d’Ivoire has one of the best electricity supplies in Africa, with only 40h lost to cuts a year, less than South Africa (42h). That for coverage it is number 3 in Africa after South Africa and Morocco.

– that considerable investment is taking place in the electricity sector, taking production from 1100 MW in 2011, to 1900 MW.

(All figures above not verified)

The fact that this is being announced just months before the election indicates that i) the government is not afraid of making unpopular decisions, ii) it sees the election as a foregone conclusion.

The Africa Progress Report due to be launched on 5 June argues that power is crucial for jobs, growth and reducing poverty. As someone who is unlikely to have an issue paying my future electricity bill in Abidjan, I realise I cannot speak for the majority of Ivorians for whom this will eat into already low incomes. But if we really want Cote d’Ivoire to become an emerging economy, it will need:

– pro poor policies

– a stable electricity supply to create conditions for industrialisation

There has been considerable investment in electricity, which – provided it has been done wisely and without mismanagement or incompetence – will continue to support a power supply that is far above what most Africans on the continent experience. I am writing from Freetown where only those with generators can really count on having power (and almost no-one in Abidjan has a generator, which speaks volumes). Improvements have costs, that can either by financed by debts, or by the end users. The gamble is that we pay a little more and benefit from a world class power network.


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A busy month in Abidjan

With hindsight, it was a bad move leaving Abidjan this morning, just hours before the latest TedX event. Then again, it seems to be generally a busy time in Abidjan so it’s hard not to miss things. In the week I caught the Journees NTIC (‘new information communication technology days’) at Hotel Ivoire (I gave a couple of presentations on photography and multimedia), I had a look around new expositions at the Cecile Fakhoury and Rotonde galeries, I attended the carnavelsque start to the Afrik UrbanArts festival at the Institut Goethe, caught Yehni Djidji’s Livresque event (literature discussion afternoon), and attended the Connectic event (discussion with Senegalese startups).

A longer list could be made of the activities I missed in the week including Franck Baye’s fashion event (Back Stage), attending the cinema (including the newly opened Majestic 3D Cinema at Hotel Ivoire), a colloque on the church and political elections, slavery memorial events organised by the Association for Antillais and Guyanais, new works at the Fondation Donwahi and Basquiat galleries, a book dedication ceremony, and concerts by Manu Gallo at Parker Place. In short there’s a lot going on, and as a new father living away from my family for most of the time, I had to balance events, friends and spending time at home.

With the TedX and the subsequent AfDB annual general meetings, there’s a certain buzz at the moment in Abidjan. The newly refurbished AfDB headquarters looks like it’ll be quite special once open. Note everyone is upbeat – water and electricity was cut several times in the week in my area, electricity bills are going up, traffic can be bad, and there’s still a litter problem, but enough seems to be going right to make it an exciting place to be.

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