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City Profiles

City Profile: Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire

May 18, 2010  »  City ProfilesNo Comment

This is the third post in a series that intends to examine the ICT environment in large metropolitan areas of Africa that receive relatively little publicity and lack ICT framework. These cities are often overshadowed by Cape Town, Johannesburg, Cairo, Nairobi, Accra, and Lagos but still have a bright future – albeit with a few additional hurdles to clear. We resume with Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire, known as “The Paris of Africa”.

Abidjan at night. http://www.flickr.com/photos/nomadcom CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast), located in West Africa, was on pace to develop a solid ICT foundation in the 1990′s. In fact, ICT plans had existed in some form since the 1970‘s! However, civil war disrupted the economy, along with infrastructure development and social reform, thus delaying Internet penetration. Still, with peacetime conditions and a supportive West African tech sphere, Cote d’Ivoire (and therefore Abidjan) is advancing. In the past 7 months, 15 visitors have come to this site from the city of Abidjan.

First, a look at the most recent population figures for Abidjan:

  • 4.2 million (UN World Urbanization Prospects, 2009), other sources say 4.1-4.4 million
  • 7th largest metropolitan area in Africa (second-largest in West Africa)

An in-depth search of the Internet turns up a limited number of ICT endeavors and reports from the past few years. The most notable event is BarCamp Abidjan, which took place a couple of months back. Most reports are outdated and focus on the country- rather than city-level, but here are some important points of information to know about Abidjan’s ICT progress:

Background:

Recent notes:

Positives:

  • A few years ago (2005-2006) efforts were made to develop a national curriculum focusing on ICT.
  • A national ICT policy from the year 2000 exists, and can serve as a framework for an updated version.
  • Fibre connections will arrive in the coming years.
  • Peace has officially existed for over three years.

Challenges:

  • Language barrier: Francophone city.
  • Coordination among different areas of government, private/public sector will be difficult.
  • Lack of tech industry excitement in Abidjan despite BarCamp.
  • Absence of widespread e-learning or e-skills training programs.

Final thought: Cote d’Ivoire would be wise to use Ghana as an example for future investment strategies and ICT policies.