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Côte d’Ivoire: Adama Bictogo, at the heart of Ouattara’s RHDP party

By Benjamin Roger
Posted on Monday, 31 May 2021 11:17

dama Bictogo, businessman and politician. He manages the Snedai Group and is also executive secretary of the "Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix". Photo taken in Abidjan on 5 May 2021. OMAR FOR JA

Côte d’Ivoire's Adama Bictogo, the RHDP party’s number two, is a patient man. He has known President Alassane Ouattara for more than a quarter of a century, but acknowledges that he has nothing to gain by leaving the pack too soon. Will he ever be able to aim higher than simply being a shrewd politician and businessman?

The hotel in Côte d’Ivoire where Adama Bictogo always stays feels a bit like home to him. In fact, he often spends one or more nights a week there, either for political, official or business meetings. But his favourite thing to do there is play tennis, often times with people such as Fidèle Sarassoro – President Alassane Ouattara’s chief of staff – as well as political leaders such as former minister Thierry Tanoh and diplomats posted in Abidjan. It’s how he manages to combine business with pleasure while on the job.

On the very warm morning of our interview, Bictogo was not wearing shorts and trainers but rather a double-breasted suit. He was well dressed, as usual. Since it was still Ramadan at the time, he decided to skip his morning coffee. This was no trouble at all for the second in command of the ruling Rassemblement des Houphouëtistes pour la Démocratie et la Paix (RHDP). “I am 58 years old, I am quite fit for my age. I get up at 5am every morning and jog 10km around my home,” he says.