Founded almost two years ago, the Africaincorp Media Network (AMN) is a co working space located in Ivory Coast’s economic capital of Abidjan and is aimed firmly at bringing technology businesses and entrepreneurs together in an environment that fosters an atmosphere of co-learning, co-building and give expression to a common set of objectives.
Recent figures in Ivory Coast are pegging the number of regular web users at two million; this is combined with 600 officially registered cyber cafés and around 100,000 ADSL subscribers.
Frederic Tapé, founder of the AMN co-working space says that while official statistics on computer ownership remain hazy, a confluence of factors, including an inflow of Chinese devices and technology-orientated credit offers by local banks, has added to the growing groundswell of ICT in the West African nation.
“We wanted to essentially create a space where events and activities allow for networking, inspiration and an exchange of ideas. We can also see a surge in the number of companies and startups offering services and products in the sub-industries like web marketing, content development, online gaming and many more,” says Tapé.
The Ivorian government is also doing its part to stimulate growth in the technology space as it has almost completed drafting legislation dubbed the e-Gov program.
Although the future seems bright for Ivory Coast’s fledgling innovation space, Tapé admits that there are still some challenges that must be faced.
“A major hurdle is the lack of qualified and skilled workers in the job market. The school system is not preparing workers, both in terms of quantity and quality, to meet the demands of startups and businesses,” Tapé contends.
The innovation hub plans to work to reverse this trend by focusing some of its efforts on high school matriculants and university students.
Another issue that the AMN co-working space faced, almost from the start, was that of what Tapé refers to as the ‘loner mentality’. The hub had to work diligently in order to convince entrepreneurs and techies that by becoming a part of the space they could, at the same time, reduce expenses while sharing knowledge and improving upon skills.
Membership of AMN begins with an initial interview in order to ascertain both parties’ expectations and visions.
“We also discuss the ongoing project or product that the prospective member or startup is working on and its specific needs. If we are in agreement then we make two offers. They either pay the membership package or open their capital and together we collaborate to bring the service of product to the market,” explains Tapé.
Currently, the space hosts five startups comprising around 20 people and is busy discussing membership packages with other interested parties. One of these start-ups, called Impulsion, is set to launch an innovative new solution in the coming weeks. Tapé believes that the product, called Impulsclic, will change the nature of how companies and brands communicate online in Ivory Coast.
Tape says “until now a single portal has dominated online spending in this country, Impulsclic will change that.”
AMN is committed to creating partnerships both locally and abroad while also continuing to host workshops and events that will continue to positively impact the skillsets of the local tech community. In addition, the space will soon be able to rely on a dedicated office co-ordinator who will make sure the members’ needs are met and further growth pursued.