Ivory Coast techies elect new ‘Web Mayor’

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Emmanuel Assouan, the newly inaugurated ‘web mayor’ of Ivory Coast’s economic capital, poses in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, Sunday May 26. Five days after Ivorians went to the polls for local elections in late April, Abidjan’s budding network of bloggers, strategists, designers and Web entrepreneurs organized a separate vote for ‘Web Mayor.’ From a crowded field of 12 candidates, the city’s active community of self-described internet geeks selected Assouan, a 22-year-old who still lives with his parents.(AP Photo/Robbie Corey-Boulet)
 
by Robbie Corey-Boulet

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — A 22-year-old who lives with his parents is the new mayor of Ivory Coast’s largest city, at least according to the West African nation’s active community of self-described Internet geeks.

Abidjan’s budding network of bloggers, strategists, designers and Web entrepreneurs organized a separate vote for “Web Mayor,” in late April days after Ivorians went to the polls for local elections.

Emmanuel Assouan was crowned leader for a group that in recent years has dreamed up creative ways to aid the city’s population of roughly 4 million people and draw attention to government shortcomings in areas like traffic congestion and power supply, said Amevi Midekor, who helped organize the vote.

Assouan beat out a crowded field of 12 candidates, with more than 25 percent of 534 votes counted.

In a suit, he took the oath of office on Friday night with his parents looking on. As he placed his right hand on a gleaming white iPad, Assouan vowed to foster an online community that was “healthy, safe and rich in content.” Ivory Coast has a reputation for cybercrime, which has placed it on blacklists for websites like PayPal.

But it’s clear Abidjan’s techies see their work as central to reforming the broader image of Ivory Coast.

“Always we hear the same things about Ivory Coast – the problems of war, of politics,” said Bacely Yorobi, head of a social media marketing firm called Social Spot and the third-place candidate for “Web Mayor.”

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