Ivory Coast is attracting investor interest from Americans of African descent, including one Tiahmo Rauf, a native of Missouri and a resident of Abidjan.
Rauf is on course to developing a new city in the West African country, to emulate if not rival the storied cities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Tokyo which has become synonymous with global trade and enterprise.
(TOP: Tihamo Rauf – left – shakes hands during a meeting).
“It is a grand project that will demonstrate that Ivorians are still capable of doing things for themselves,” says Rauf.
However, in order to do that, the American is targeting at least 1,000 of his countrymen to commit US $1 million each (which comes to a total of US $1 billion) in a project that will see the birth of a new city known as Brownsville in the West African state.
The ambitiousness of the project not only lies in the fact that it will emulate the Dubais of this world but that it will be built by African architects and engineers.
As a matter of fact, an architect has already been identified for the city project that will occupy 50 acres (20 hectares) of land in Ilboulay.
NSIA Assurances and Banque, the bank where Rauf envisages his fellow Americans will put their deposits, has a solid capital base in West Africa. It has two major banks and 22 insurance companies spread all over the region.
Jeanine Diagou, the NSIA’s Chief Executive exudes confidence about the success potential of the project, reiterating that this is the right time to invest in the country.
“It will create many jobs and will be good for the bank,” she says.
NSIA operates in 12 French, English and Portuguese countries in West and Central Africa, with 25 subsidiaries including two bank subsidiaries.
As far as Rauf is concerned, the city will be up and running in a matter of 10 years. And he does not hide the pride in the fact it will be put up by Africans.
“The beauty is that the city will be built by Africans, a brand new city the likes of Miami, downtown New Orleans, downtown St. Louis,” he says.
It is safe to say that the seeds of this project were first sowed in 1985 when Rauf visited the West African country and immediately fell in love with it.
He has since gone ahead to cultivate a relationship with the current Ivorian president, Allasanie Outtara. But he first created a rapport with former president Felix-Houphouet Boingy through George Benson, a kin of his.