It is safe to say that the concept of “Information Society” is one that has a lot of different meanings, definitions and implications. In this case, when talking about Ivory Coast, we’ll focus primarily on the media, on what type of information is readily available, how and for who. We’ll tackle the questions of access to, quality and understanding of information diffused by different media.
Technology & access
Just as the rest of Africa, one can note a very high use of mobile phones. The percentage of telephone subscribers went from 14,5% in 2005, to 87,8% in 2011 (UNData, 2013). The same can not be said of the internet though, as only 2,2% used it in 2011 (UNData, 2013). And the main reason for that is financial, both on the side of the consumer and on that of the provider.
For the provider, the costs of providing internet access - fixed or mobile - are too great in a country of such a size, with few densely populated areas, in turn making the costs quite high for the consumer.
For the latter, mobile internet access costs from 9.900 FCFA with MTN to 15000 FCFA with Orange. That represents about 20 to 40% of the former minimum wage, that had been frozen at 36.607 FCFA (55,81€) for 19 years (International Labour Organization [ILO], 2011), even as the FCFA had been devalued by half in that period of time (“Côte d’Ivoire: salaire minimum”, 2011). But even though minimum wage has been increased to 60.000 FCFA (91,5€) last year (“Côte d’Ivoire: salaire minimum”, 2011), it still represents quite an investment. As a consequence, Internet is definitely not a major source of information in Ivory Coast, with big inequalities in access mainly due to income.
The importance of mobile usage has led to the emergence of a new system though: SMS broadcasting. Radio France International (RFI) for example, partnered up with Orange, and for a small fee of 100 FCFA/week, users can receive the most important world and sports news per SMS. It is not known how many people use this service, however, making it difficult to rank the importance of it in the media landscape.
But how about traditional information outlets, such as press, TV and radio?
In 2012, about 50 to 60 million newspapers were sold (Conseil National de la Presse (CNP), 2012), and Afristat data states that in 2002, 64% of households had a radio, and 30% a TV. It is safe to say that these are the biggest sources for information, but one can not ignore the fact that a quite significant part of the population still doesn’t have access to those.
In the case of printed press, even with the relatively low prices (about 200 FCFA for a daily newspaper (CNP, 2012)), some still can’t afford buying a newspaper. This has lead to a practice called titrologie, roughly translatable as “title-ology”, where people go to a news stand to read the titles without buying, extrapolate from that and try to guess the content - sometimes quite erroneously as the press in Ivory Coast tends to...