Entrepreneur and #55FORWARD Ambassador Frederic Tape chats with us about how social media helped his country during a political crisis, why Africa needs to be even more connected and the similarities between his home country, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria.
How are some ways people use social media in Cote d’Ivoire?
Social media blew up for us during our political crisis. All of our networks went down. The only thing that was linking each citizen to the other was the web. On social media, Twitter and Facebook people had a huge response to the social crisis. People were able to let others know where the battles were happening, who needed help and how they could be helped. It was fantastic. Ever since then, people fully embraced the medium and understood that it was a new space where the community could interact. Also, now more and more businesses are using medium. That’s where the consumers and the clients are.
How do you personally use social media in the country?
The company I run does web marketing, social media marketing, social media strategy, web development and the rest. It allows us to offer media and tech solutions to our clients. But personally I use social media to connect. And that’s why I’m in sync with the SMW Lagos theme ‘A Connected Africa is the Future.’ I use social media to connect locally, regionally, all over the continent and worldwide. On social media you can find like-minded people outside of your immediate social network, outside of you national boundaries and you can create a new tribe, a new circle. That’s a benefit that you gain form social media. I use it to get contacts, find information, find out about interesting things and interesting people. I reach out to them for advice and for potential collaborations.
How did you get from Abidjan to Lagos? Tell me about your physical journey to get to SMW Lagos.
It’s very important to have this conversation when we talk about Africa connected. Nigeria is our number one trade partner. I found out that there is one daily flight from Abidjan to Lagos. But there are more than three, four, five even six daily flights to anywhere else, mainly Europe. So somebody that’s closer to me where I have more of a vested interest in interacting with, I have less opportunities to connect. Outside of that fact the journey was good trip. I didn’t know what to expect. We flew over the city before arriving to the airport. So I actually saw the landscape; I saw it was massive and wide. Lagos has over 20 million inhabitants. We have six million in Abidjan so it’s more than triple in size. This sense of massiveness and being huge attracts me to Lagos.
What are the similarities and differences between Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria that you’ve seen so far?
Starting with the food the okra, the pepper soup, the plantains at least this part of town where I am, the layout of the city is very similar to Cote d’Ivoire. And of course our skin color and features. But the difference, and the beauty of the Nigerian people, is the energy, the drive and, I don’t know if it’s the right word, but they have this exuberance. I think that’s something I think we need to feed off of.
Thanks Frederic for your time!