The trains or the people

Welcome readers to todays offering from The Philatelist. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage, and sit back in your most comfortable chair. We have an interesting story to tell about economic choices.

The stamp today is from post independence French West Africa. The French influence was quite great in the countries themselves. In terms of the stamps however, compared to the British Commonwealth there was less influence from the former home country. The stamps usually do have some of the vibe of the cold war period nonaligned movement. This stamp is a little bit of an exception to that by showing an old railway car from the French period.

The stamp today is issue A198, a 100 franc stamp issued in the Ivory Coast on May 17th, 1980. It is part of a four stamp issue that displays the train line in the Ivory Coast over time. This stamp shows a passenger car from 1908. According to the Scott Catalog, the stamp is worth 60 cents cancelled.

Ivory Coast is a former French colony on the coast of the Atlantic ocean near the Equator in the tropics. Despite the name, the main industries are cocoa beans, rubber, and oil production. There is also a fair amount of trade that passes through the Ivory Coast on the way to land locked countries to the north such as Burkini Faso. These areas were all formally part of French West Africa and during the colonial period a train line was built from  the port of Abidjan up through Ivory Coast into Burkini Faso.

All of this has left the country in a better state economically that many other African nations. The Government has used the growing GDP to fund large development projects such as a train extension to a new mining area and a new subway system in Abidjan. The problems come in with the rapid population growth and the additional migration of people of foreign countries has left a situation with many seemingly left behind economically from the growth. The instability from this causes periodic uprisings that then choke off economic activity.

Trouble like this flared up again in 2017. The military took to the streets demanding back pay that was owed. Shots were fired near commercial port facilities. this lead to outside companies quickly leaving. The government quickly paid the back pay due the military and they returned to barracks. However the civil service than went on strike demanding the back pay it felt it was owed. It remains to be seen what effect this will have on development goals. Not meeting those goals will leave more people behind and around we go. What is the answer to this? A liberal might suggest more public sector employment and a big push in family planning. Perhaps the more conservative might suggest a wall and better project management. In my opinion they both are correct.

Well, my drink is empty and so it is time to open up the conversation in the below comment section. What is the correct tradeoff between todays needs and a better future? Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.