A scholarship programme from Orient’s Fond and NORDEN aims to support young maritime talents in Ivory Coast and Gabon.

The programme, initiated in 2022, provides a full scholarship to study at the Regional Academy of Marine Sciences and Technologies (ARSTM) in Abidjan, Ivory Coast.

As part of the programme at ARSTM, the students are required to work 12-months onboard a vessel before they can obtain their maritime degree and license and the first two cadets from the academy have just been selected to join a NORDEN vessel.

After graduation, the intent is to offer the scholars employment in NORDEN, supporting our operations in either Ivory Coast or Gabon, where we have a large port logistics operation.

NORDEN and Orient’s Fond have this week chosen six additional scholars as the second batch to be enrolled in the scholarship programme and ARSTM, totalling 12 scholars in total. In 2024, the aim is to further provide six more students with scholarships.

Supporting the local community

With the establishment of the NORDEN scholarship programme, NORDEN aims to support the local communities with the development of maritime talents in the West African region, where NORDEN has offices and operations in both Ivory Coast and Gabon. Furthermore, the aim is to build a strong pipeline of potential future employees who can support NORDEN’s operations in the two countries, as it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find, attract and retain talents in the region.

This summer, a graduation ceremony marked the ending of the first year at ARSTM for the six first students. Prior to the graduation, we got an opportunity to speak with one of the first NORDEN scholars, the 19-year-old Ivorian, Sarah Seple on her background and aspirations to become part of the maritime industry with NORDEN.

Sarah grew up with her parents and siblings in Yopougon, a local neighbourhood in the bustling city of Abidjan, where she in 2022 graduated from high school, Lycée Moderne Jeunes Filles with honours.

Since childhood, Sarah was drawn to the maritime industry:

“When I was younger, I aspired to become part of a navigations team, because I was very impressed by all the different activities that take place in the industry. With the support of my parents, I therefore decided to apply for the NORDEN Scholarship to pursue my dream.”

Sarah and the five other scholars were chosen amongst hundreds of candidates who applied to the first NORDEN scholarship programme in Ivory Coast and Gabon.

Without the scholarship, the road to becoming part of the industry could have been more difficult, Sarah explains:

“I am extremely grateful to NORDEN and Orient’s Fond for the scholarship to study and live at ARSTM. The scholarship is a great help in funding my studies and fulfilling my dream to working in shipping, and that would be way more difficult to achieve without the scholarship.”

Sarah was part of only a handful of women who applied for the scholarship, and while the shipping industry in general is heavily male influenced, it has never discouraged Sarah from pursuing her dream:

“To be a female in a male influenced industry has been quite easy for me. Working in the industry has always been a passion that motivated me more than thinking about being a woman among men. Moreover, my philosophy is that all professions are accessible to all, regardless of gender. By being a female in an industry that is male influenced, I hope to inspire other females to become part of the industry.”

With the graduation ceremony concluding the first year at ARSTM, Sarah reflects on the year that has passed and her dreams for a future career in the industry:

“So far, I have learnt a lot. From all the practicalities and requirements needed to be working and living onboard a ship, to how the world economy and global trade is centred around shipping. My short-term objective is to obtain my degree and license in naval mechanics, and to work as a second engineer on board a ship. If I look at my long-term career aspirations, my objective is to become a chief engineer and hold a leadership position in the industry.”

What is ARSTM
Located in Abidjan, Ivory Coast the ARSTM is a regional institution for maritime, port and industrial learnings founded by the 15 French-speaking nations of West and Central Africa. The academy’s 33-hectare site was inaugurated in 1987 and is a recognised diplomatic mission of the United Nations. Under the academies’ auspices are two schools: the Centre of Maritime Education and Training (CEAM) and the Institute for the Strategic Management of Institutional Assets (ISMI).