Posted by: Martin | September 30, 2011

Observations and Impressions

Back home now. Time for some impressions from the Ivory Coast.

Pot hole indicator

As usual I’ve riding a lot of taxis (never my own taxi though) and talking to taxi drivers.  Abidjan taxi drivers are almost all Ouattara supporters so they are a bit biased, but on issue of road conditions I think their assessment is as accurate as it gets.  And what they say is that roads for the first time in a long time are getting better, pot holes are getting fixed, roads paved, and often they point out a stretch of road which they say previously was impassable.

Here’s what they are talking about:

Before:

Voie de Gesco under Gbagbo. Images from the Ivorian Ministry of Infrastructure. (H/t Frederic Tape)

After:

Voie de Gesco now

Before:

Voie de Saguidiba pre-roadworks

After:

Voie de Saguidiba now

Sense of Optimism

Beside roadworks, another striking thing is that Abidjan has gotten cleaner.  I mean there is still a lot to do, and you still see trash along the roads, in the lagoon and well everywhere, but it’s gotten better, and you see teams of cleaners at work all over the city.

Then we have the rush hour  traffic jams which have moved two hours earlier in the morning due to the new administration emphasising punctuality and work ethic throughout the public sector.

All in all there are tons of undeniable signs that things are changing (and almost always for the better) which creates a sense of optimism. I have heard people say that one can start to be proud to be Ivorian again, and that under his first few months Ouattara has done more than Gbagbo did during 10 years.

Strong Buy

Talking to people in the real estate sector, they say that business is coming back  and that it seems to be stronger than pre-crisis levels. What I think has happened is that in one swoop trust in Ivory Coast’s institutions has strengthened, emboldening local businesses and attracting the most risk-willing foreign investors. I mean, it’s still a place that just had a civil war and where armed troops can be seen all over the place – usually not what foreign investors are looking for.

Hopefully  the increased trust in Ivory Coast’s institutions is not just short term effect that will be eroded by corruption, but is based on fundamentals that are here to stay.  If that’s the case, property rights should be perceived as stronger than before, increasing the value on pretty much everything in the Ivory Coast. And that would mean a strong buy on ivorian real estate.

 

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