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Department 1

Africana Studies

Department 2



Toward the end of the 1960s, authorities in the Ivory Coast decided to build the Kossou Dam, a hydro-electric dam on the Bandama River near the geographic center of the Francophone country. Initially conceived as a technopolitical measure to meet the growing energy demand of the most economically successful country of France's former colonies, the damming experiment soon emerged as a multipurpose regional development project aimed at correcting the regional disparities that tarnished the Ivory Coast's phenomenal economic growth.

This article focuses on the Kossou modernization experience and the sociopolitical transformations that it caused. I argue that the nationalist enthusiasm that followed the country's independence in 1960 all the way through the first decade of postcolonial nation-building provided the Ivorian authorities with an opportunity to flesh out their electrified vision of their country's future.