'Abidjan 2.0': Post-conflict rehabilitation of a tattered city image
(University of Bonn)
Paper short abstract:
Post-conflict debates about the future and the city image manoeuvre between notions of "Abidjan will never be beautiful", "sustainable city" and "the new Ivorian" citizen. The paper provides empirical examples of how these debates have practically affected inhabitants of waterfronts.
Paper long abstract:
During the Ivorian crisis, the urban land area of Abidjan has grown ten per cent while its population has doubled and reached five million inhabitants. Habitation became much denser, unplanned urbanisation flourished and the city has moved closer to the Ebrié Lagoon and the Atlantic Coast. Promising economic indicators attract international investors and slowly also tourists again. The new political alliance with Morocco, governmental urbanisation projects and private real estate investments start moulding "the return" of the city. The municipality, architects and investors use waterfronts to rehabilitate a city image from the 1980s, when Abidjan still was "perles de lagune" though it is tattered by environmental pollution of the lagoon as a post-conflict consequence. Abidjan faces a housing crisis, which is accelerated by municipal policies to recover lost public waterfronts by evicting unplanned settlements, as well by legal inconsistencies and frauds on the land market. The paper analyses public debates of the government newspaper Fraternité Matin (2011-2017) and other media sources about current challenges and the future image of the city which manoeuvre between notions of "urban disorder", "Abidjan will never be beautiful", "sustainable city" and "the new Ivorian". It will also provide examples of how these policies and public discourses have practically affected inhabitants of waterfronts based on an ethnographic survey, observations and interviews with residents, real estate agencies and local authorities in Koumassi and Port Bouët.