Ivory Coast’s Gbagbo situation draws attention, disrupts ICT advancement
June 2010: Much of the world learns that Ivory Coast plays excellent soccer. Such a positive impression can only bode well for the growing nation.
December 2010: Much of the world hears that Ivory Coast faces a growing internal conflict over leadership. Such negative attention jeopardizes Ivory Coast’s status as a global partner/investment and slows the Ivorian economy (in addition to threatening lives, of course).
The VOA news title sums it up quite well: “Ivory Coast Crisis Puts a Chill on the Economy”. Laurent Gbagbo’s refusal to cede power to Alassane Ouattara, who the UN and much of the international community recognize as the winner of the Nov. 28 presidential run-off, has caused the World Bank froze $800 million in financing – dollars that could be put toward much-needed ICT initiatives. Additionally, citizens have been avoiding the marketplace out of the fear of leaving their homes. As a result, business has slowed and prices have increased to compound the situation. Essentially, the entire nation is on pause because of one man and needs to restore stability in order to achieve long-term ICT growth.
However, despite the challenges facing ICT, the recent situation in Ivory Coast has encouraged online debate and the sharing of information:
- A series of recently uploaded videos showing the unrest, demonstrations, and violence in Cote d’Ivoire found their way to the Internet despite threats and the practice of state-controlled media. In this case, the gritty online video adds emotion to a situation where traditional media can only go so far. Additionally, the author of the blog post has cited examples of how social media has both enabled and hindered communication. For example, threats posted on Twitter may have stifled some conversation from Ivorian Tweeters (but not the international community). [Source: GlobalVoices]
- Always interesting is the #civ2010 election discussion that has been ongoing for the past month. On 12/27, this hashtag is being used approximately once every minute. Google Translate will come in handy for this forum. [Source: Twitter Search]
- ECOWAS has recently become involved in the Ivory Coast situation and on December 7th issued online press release describing a recommended course of action for President Gbagbo. [Source: ECOWAS]
- The Facebook page for Laurent Gbagbo (unofficial) posts many available interviews and news pieces about the (former?) leader. In fact, this page has gained 5,000 fans in just under one month and now experiences hundreds of daily comments. [Source: Facebook]
Also, it’s worth noting that the Ivorian Presidential website is down for maintenance after a hacker interfered with its operation. One must wonder if this hacker is from Cote d’Ivoire, France, or somewhere else, but a thread from AbidjanTalk (and translated by Google) raises some interesting points:
- Ivorians have the ability to bring down a website.
- Presidential websites are simply for show and do not serve as a functional method for citizen input.
- The official website should highlight technological skills, especially if it is for show.