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

    Syrian Rebel Realignment Likely as al-Qaida Leader Blesses Split

    Jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra splits from al-Qaida in what observers dub a ‘deception and denial’ exercise

    New India Child Labor Law Could Make Children More Vulnerable

    Concerns that allowing children to work in family enterprises will push more to work

    What Take-out Food Reveals About American History

    Carry-out food explains a lot about the changes taking place in society, so here's the deal with pizza, Chinese food and what racism has to do with taking food to go

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora