The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is pushing ahead with expansion into Côte d'Ivoire on the back of the country's promising technology sector and high levels of interest from young Ivorians in its Entrepreneurs-In-Training (EITs) program.
Ivory Coast is the fifth African country targeted by MEST. The academic institution has previously opened up opportunities Ghanaians, Kenyans, Nigerians and South Africans to spend a year at its flagship campus in Accra.
Celine Duros, Director of Operations & Partnerships at MEST says the public announcement of the expansion into Cote d'ivoire during the Africa Web Festival in Abidjan earlier this month is a logical move.
"The expansion into Côte d'Ivoire is a strategic move for MEST, marking a foothold in its fifth African country, and bridging the gap between the English-speaking and French-speaking African economies to expand the tech ecosystem even further. The ICT sector in Côte d'Ivoire is the second largest contributor to GDP in Ivory Coast, at around 7%. The country is equipped with modern telecommunications services, including a public data communications network, cellular phones and Internet access. Côte d'Ivoire is also one of the continent's most vibrant mobile markets with five competing telecom operators. The mobile penetration rate in Côte d'Ivoire is close to 83%; there are 19.3 million mobile subscribers compared to 300,000 fixed-line subscribers, accounting for 1.2% penetration rate, according to L'Agence de Régulation des Télécommunications de Côte d'Ivoire," says Duros.
Duros says other factors that led to the choice of Côte d'Ivoire include the country's driven youth who have the right entrepreneurial mindset as well as its proximity to Ghana which makes it easy for personnel to travel there from MEST headquarters in Accra.
The addition of Côte d'Ivoire means that Ivorians can now take part in MEST's intensive entrepreneurial training program which will help therm launch their own software startup, and pitch to receive seed funding between US$50,000 and US$100,000 from the Meltwater Foundation. Duros adds that Ivorians will join over 2500 aspiring global entrepreneurs who have applied and compete for 60 open spots in MEST's startup Incubator Programs.
"The interest levels we've seen from tech enthusiasts across francophone Africa in general even prior to our announcement has been very encouraging. Our research and findings clearly showed an opportunity within the areas of capacity building; and as we have done across selected english speaking sub saharan Africa, our mission in Côte d'Ivoire is to create wealth and jobs locally through training, mentoring and funding young Ivorians who have the interest in starting software companies that can impact the world."
Ivorian candidates have until the 01 April 2017 to apply according to Duros.
Application screening and aptitude tests, in-person interviews, offers as well as final selections will be done from that time until the program begins in Accra in August 2017.