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“Abidjan is a Lagos that works” – A Nigerian living in Côte d’Ivoire

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This week, we spoke to a *Ruz, a Nigerian who has made Côte d’Ivoire home but hasn’t cut Lagos off completely.

Every week, I write about Nigeria’s experience in another country, but my surprise is always the same when I find another country where Nigerians are thriving. 

Saudi Arabia, China, Uganda, Mauritius and Kenya: what is your favorite experience yet?

Today’s experience takes us to Francophone Africa. 

Let’s get into it. If you don’t speak a word of French, how do you move to Ivory Coast where you won’t find a lot of people who speak English?

For *Ruz, a family move to Côte d’Ivoire was possible because of a job offer. 

He told TechCabal: “After a little internet sleuthing and a couple of inquiries, we were like, this place seems to have the basics that our beloved country still struggles to have so let’s take a leap of faith and see how it goes.”

What Ruz realized in a few days is that Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire’s economic capital is Lagos that works. Think clean water, good roads, no traffic or unreasonable bans.

Also, imagine an airport with a defibrillator. For most people, why is a defibrillator at an airport or public space a big deal? 

Here’s your answer from a real life experience:

But here’s what we already know: Félix Houphouët-Boigny International airport is miles ahead of Murtala Mohammed Airport, Murtala Muhammed International Airport & MM2 combined.

The exterior of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International airport
The exterior of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International airport
The interior of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International airport
The interior of the Félix Houphouët-Boigny International airport

For a country that ended a civil war less than ten years ago, they’re certainly poised to welcome travelers. 

“Their immigration personnel are pretty straight forward and their scanners work. Pass through the scanner, frisk and check, and you’re good to go. Though remember to have your yellow card.”

When you’re past immigration, you’ll be happy to know that you can pick up a SIM card at the airport. Remember that time we talked about the privacy concerns SIM registrations have?

“There was an Orange and MTN stand, I bought a SIM card, presented my passport for identification and in less than 5 minutes I had a line to use”

Asking what cab and bike hailing options are in a city can tell us a lot about how cities move. In Kenya, Safebodas are the way to move. 

In Côte d’Ivoire, cabs and a metro system called Sotra are the way to commute. Uber launched here in late 2019, one year after another ride hailing service, Yango. 

Ruz says bike hailing isn’t a thing yet, but if you’re looking to have food delivered, Glovo might be your go-to. 

Let’s switch tracks and talk about one of my favorite things: how much does data cost in Ivory Coast and how much data can ₦2000 ($5) (3300CFA) buy?

You get 1200MB for 7 days on Orange and 4GB for a month on MTN. 15GB for 30 days costs CFA20000 (₦12000) ($33). 

Data costs across Uganda and Kenya are almost similar.

What are Ruz’s top five apps in Ivory Coast? Netflix, YouTube, Google Translate, Twitter and Duolingo. It is difficult to find locals who speak English. 

In Nigeria, he uses Twitter, Quantic, YouTube, LinkedIn and Spotify. 

Mpesa filled a big part of last week’s conversation. While mobile money is popular in Ivory Coast, Mpesa doesn’t have a footprint here yet.

“Mobile Money is used to pay for electricity, water and  internet. MTN, Orange, Moov and Ecobank all have mobile money apps.”

Abidjan is Lagos that works 

On a scale of 1-10, where does Ruz rate Ivory Coast tech wise? He scores it a 5 because even though there is internet penetration where he lives, there’s not much tech in the country. But it manages to distract you with its organisation. 

He rates his tech experiences in Lagos a 6. But rest assured, he’s ready to permanently trade Lagos for Côte d’Ivoire at a moment’s notice!

If you want to share your tech experience with TechCabal, send me an email: muyiwa@bigcabal.com

Side bar: One reader suggested we call this series “Outside Life”. What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

*Name has been changed at interviewee’s request.

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