ZEF in the City. (Internal) ZEF Workshop 2018.

December 5, 2018 | 11:00 h - 12:00 h

ZEFa Colloquium, on Wednesday, December 5th 2018 | 11:00- 12:00h will look at:

Wooden ferry transportation in Abidjan. Doing waterways and supporting mobilities of poor urbanites.

… to be presented by Irit Eguavoen, Senior Researcher (ZEFa).

The session will be chaired by Christian Petersheim.

Venue: ZEF-Seminar room 3.032


Abidjan, the economic capital of the Côte d´Ivoire has been built around a lagoon and reaches until the Atlantic Ocean. Thus, boats and ferries have always been part of the urban transport system. The objective of this study on water transportation is to analyse place-making processes with regard to waterways, as well as the impact of wooden ferries on the mobilities of Adjahui residents who live in a spontaneous and precarious settlement, which is located on the territory of Port Bouët Municipal District. The study presents data on eleven wooden ferry lines which connect one inner city peninsula with other parts of the metropolis. The paratransit ferry system has been established by private entrepreneurs since 2012 who recognised the growing demand for water transport as well as its high business potential. Data from mapping, a survey among customers (n=384), nine in-depth interviews and counting of customers revealed that ferry transport is unpopular among the population despite offering about 54,500 rides a day where there is no transport alternative. Ferries are essential to enable poor urbanites to maintain mobility to the metropolis. The second part of the papers explains how remoteness of the Adjahui settlement and cost of water transport enforces immobilities on especially young female and elder residents and children, who tend to remain in the informal settlement. They have little exposure to other socio-economic strata and urban lifestyle, as well as face limited education and employment opportunities.  


mobility, informal settlements, urban transport, ferry transportation, paratransit, Africa


Irit Eguavoen works as Senior Researcher and social anthropologist at the Center for Development Research of the University of Bonn (Germany) in a DFG-funded research project called “Waterfront Metropolis Abidjan. Between everyday urbanity, spontaneous urbanisation, town planning, and real estate development”.

Attendance is obligatory for all ZEFa Junior and Senior Researchers.

ZEFb and ZEFc juniors and seniors are most welcome to join in.




Irit Eguavoen

Dr. Irit Eguavoen