News / Africa

    Abidjan 'Web Mayor' Dreams of Online El Dorado

    Emmanuel Assouan, Ivory Coast's new web mayor, right, confers with adviser Bacely Yorobi at headquarters of a tech start-up, Abidjan, May 26. (R. Corey-Boulet/VOA)Emmanuel Assouan, Ivory Coast's new web mayor, right, confers with adviser Bacely Yorobi at headquarters of a tech start-up, Abidjan, May 26. (R. Corey-Boulet/VOA)
    x
    Emmanuel Assouan, Ivory Coast's new web mayor, right, confers with adviser Bacely Yorobi at headquarters of a tech start-up, Abidjan, May 26. (R. Corey-Boulet/VOA)
    Emmanuel Assouan, Ivory Coast's new web mayor, right, confers with adviser Bacely Yorobi at headquarters of a tech start-up, Abidjan, May 26. (R. Corey-Boulet/VOA)
    Ivory Coast’s first-ever elected “Web Mayor” was officially sworn-in on Friday by a group of computer-technology enthusiasts hoping to shed the country's reputation for cybercrime and make Abidjan the continent’s latest tech hub.
     
    Kneeling on the floor and surrounded by a team of advisers, Emmanuel Assouan, clad in a dark suit and red necktie, places one hand on an iPad and reads aloud the oath of office.
     
    Following a hard-fought campaign against 11 other candidates, the 22-year-old graphics and Web designer has officially assumed his role as the first “Web Mayor” of the nation's commercial capital.
     
    Organized by members of Abidjan’s innovative group of startup founders, Web strategists, designers, entrepreneurs and bloggers, the election was held just days after government-organized polls for municipal and regional offices.
     
    According to Amevi Midekor, one of the election organizers, the campaigns for “Web Mayor” persuaded the interests of the country's online community in a way that the government elections could not.
     
    “The Web community is on course to grow and enlarge here in Ivory Coast. It is a space where expression is free and people can say whatever they want," he says. “So we needed to have our own mayor, because generally the people who are elected in the government elections are not effective, and they do not think of the population. We wanted someone who would think about us.”
     
    Assouan, who has no budget to speak of and only one term to serve, has ambitious goals to end Abidjan’s reputation for cybercrime and turn the city into an “El Dorado” for tech enthusiasts.
     
    Campaigning on a promise to make the Ivorian Web “healthy, safe and rich in content,” one of his first steps, he says, will be to facilitate dialogue between two camps that are naturally at odds — hackers and the Web developers whose programs they try to outsmart.
     
    “I want to eliminate the differences and the inequalities among these groups, so that we can share our knowledge and give a better image of our country to the outside," he says. "Our country is currently on blacklists because of cybercrime, but I want to turn us into an El Dorado for all of Africa.”
     
    The Ivorian online community has already come a long way in just a few years. During the country's post-election violence in of 2010-11, members experimented with Twitter and other programs to quickly spread information get assistance to people in need of medical care or food.
     
    Since then, other projects have been launched to help the general public: CivRoute, for example, is a program that allows users to post updates on road accidents and traffic jams, making the city more navigable.
     
    Earlier this year, one designer created a masked cartoon villain whose presence informs residents about power cuts. The name of the antihero, Delestron, derives from the French word for power cut, delestage. His Facebook page now has nearly 5,000 “likes.”
     
    Bacely Yorobi, who finished third in the election and has since been named to Assouan’s circle of advisers, says Ivory Coast’s Web experts are now ready to play a role in decisions that affect the whole country.
     
    “There is a need for technocrats," says Yorobi. "We can have people online who influence the decisions taken in the country — by the government and others who play a role in managing the country. This election is a strong signal that those of us who are online are ready to take the lead.”

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    Clinton, Sanders Fight for African American Votes

    Some African American lawmakers lining up to support Clinton in face of perceived surge by Sanders in race for Democratic nomination in presidential campaign

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.