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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to enhancement or regression of democracy for Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid