Ade had an early chance for Togo in Rustenburg when Kolo Toure miss-hit an attempted backpass that the striker intercepted, but couldn't take the ball around goalkeeper Boubacar Barry.
Tournament-favourites Ivory Coast soon took the lead through Yaya Toure only for Togo to level before half-time through Jonathan Ayite.
It looked like it would stay that way only for Gervinho to find the winner for Ivory Coast with two minutes remaining.
Ade almost carved out an equaliser in injury time with a clever pass for Floyd Akite, but Togo were once again denied by Barry.
Togo next face Algeria on Saturday, while the Ivory Coast take on Tunisia, again in Rustenburg. Tunisia beat Algeria 1-0 in their opening fixture.
Meanwhile, Bongani Khumalo, currently on loan at Greek Super League side PAOK, skippered South Africa in their opening fixture, a goalless draw against Cape Verde at Soccer City, Johannesburg on Saturday. In a game of few chances, the central defender headed over from close range in injury time.
He returns to action with the hosts against Angola on Wednesday.