The view from the ground

It’s always interesting talking to businessmen in Abidjan because you tend to know where they’re coming from. They’re generally not trying to grind political axes (especially the foreigners) and they tend to have access to really authentic information from the ground. They don’t mind much who’s in power – they just want to make more money, more easily. Of course, everyone’s viewpoint is personal and not necessarily in line with the bigger picture. But consider the following comments:

– “Every plane that comes in is full of visiting business delegations and their country’s respective politicians. They come here and sit and your office and you start talking about crime, and they looked shocked. They say ‘what crime?’ It’s not the message they’re being told.”

– “Just look at Soir Info – Marcory, II Plateaux, Yopougon, Soubre… every day there are stories about armed robberies. There are men armed with Kalashs. We always had crime, but we never saw this sort of thing before.”

– “For the time being the government is investing very little in our materials, an insignificant amount. We expect this to increase, but the question is when. Look at the third bridge. Of course they’ve started but they’re just working on the two embankments, it looks like they’re not rushing to start the major work. There are lots of announcements, but for the time being much is talk. The big projects will come, I’m sure, but it’s not immediate. Things still take a lot of time here”

– “At the bottom of society there really is a sense that money just isn’t circulating in a context of high food prices. People are really struggling.”

Still he reported business was expected to be up this year on 2010, which had been a good year.

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