From Houphouët to Hamed Bakayoko

How Israel made Côte d’Ivoire a promised land

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This article is part of the dossier:

The Israel Connection

By Mathieu Olivier

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Posted on October 28, 2021 16:02

Buildings in the business district Plateau are seen behind the village of Attiekoube in Abidjan
Buildings in the business district Plateau are seen behind the village of Attiekoube in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire in 2017. REUTERS/Luc Gnago

Côte d’Ivoire’s Abidjan, which has been a pillar of Israeli influence in West Africa since president Houphouët-Boigny’s rule, has strengthened its alliance with Tel Aviv and companies under the influence of Stéphane Konan, the late prime minister Hamed Bakayoko’s advisor.

At the beginning of this year, French defence industry specialists were smiling, at least the ones who had left the cold greyness of the Paris region for the warmer temperatures of the Ebrié Lagoon. The Shield Africa trade fair was holding its sixth edition in Abidjan. Launched in 2013, it has become one of Africa’s major events dedicated to defence and security.

Every year, world leaders in the sector and apprentice arms dealers congregate there, amidst soldiers in fatigues. Since 2017, the show has been owned by the Groupement des Industries Françaises de la Défense et de la Sécurité Terrestres et Aéroterrestres, which is responsible for promoting the French defence industry internationally. As a result, its boss, General Patrick Colas des Francs (since replaced by General Charles Baudoin), and the French, feel a bit more at home there. French flagships are the best represented.


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