Let me talk about an event that doesn’t exist (except in my imagination). Every year hundreds of Ivorians take part in summer camps to use up the long holiday period. Some are based around arts & crafts, others extra school studies, others travel to neighbouring countries. How about one camp dedicated to giving people a foundation in the IT professional? Last year we saw e-school, but how about something much bigger and longer? Say, four 1 week camps with up to 30+ students each. Take people who can already move a mouse – recruiting through online networks and cybercafes – but making an effort to get ‘not just the same old faces’ but a wider catch of young and enthusiastic Ivorians (although I think there needs to be some chance of them having regular contact with technology). This would be the equivalement of Jean-Marc Guillou’s nationwide recruitment for the Asec Mimosas academy in the early 1990s – finding the enthusiastic and the talented even in unexpected places.
The camp would consist of a week of training from local professionals, enthusiasts and outside teachers from Europe – these could be tech students from European universities looking for some practical volunterring opportunities in their summer. Sessions should aim to take people from Facebook/Twitter enthusiasts towards people who can i) set-up blogs ii) design sites with WordPress/Joomla iii) create simple web pages using html (at least to understand how it works) iv) understand some of the conceptual work around apps and design a basic Facebook app v) get a bit deeper into coding vi) learn basic business skills. Perhaps the crucial thing would be to try and launch people into the world with a vision of where technology is going and with a knowledge of how to learn more themselves (auto-didact skills). By the end of the summer you should have 120 young people with a vision and a passion to start developing tech enterpise in Abidjan and if only a quarter intensify their knowledge and start ‘doing interesting stuff’, then the ball could be rolling towards making Abidjan a real and exciting tech centre. From these students will no doubt come the start-ups that will fill the new Tech-Hub in a year or so. What do you think? Ivorians are rightly proud of some past achievements but how about building a new basis for raising the national head beyond the beautiful game?