Bridging
the digital divide

Close the Gap’s Digitruck on a tour through Kenya

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One of Close the Gap’s Digitrucks (the one sponsored by Arrow Electronics) is currently traveling through Kenya. Two of Close the Gap’s local partner organisations, who are also the operators of this Digitruck, Computers for Schools Kenya (CFSK) and the WEEE Centre, are touring through different Kenyan (sub)counties the next few weeks. The first visit of the Digitruck is Mlolongo, Machakos county.

The goal of this Digitruck tour is to teach women and young adults proper e-waste management practices and digital skills. Through these courses offered in the Digitruck, CFSK and WEEE Centre are promoting ICT literacy in the community. With this initiative, they are empowering young people and women, while at the same time propelling Kenya into the digital age.

The first two launches in Mlolongo were very successful and many trainees turned up for the valuable classes. The enthusiasm from the students is an excellent indicator for the further success of this Digitruck tour in Kenya.

Click here for more detailed information about the various Digitrucks and how they contribute to bridging the digital divide.

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BeCode thanks Close the Gap in an original way for providing their IT equipment

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One of the projects that Close the Gap supports in Belgium is BeCode. BeCode is a free coding school that offers IT training to anyone, regardless of their financial means. At the heart of BeCode is the idea that every motivated person should have the opportunity to learn to code and find a job. BeCode offers six-month training programmes to get the students ready for the professional job market.

Close the Gap provides all IT equipment needed for the coding classes. To thank Close the Gap for supporting their project, BeCode students developed a web app that generates ‘Thank you’ messages in multiple languages and colours.

Click here to find out how you can also support Close the Gap by donating your company’s used IT material, which in turn will support remarkable projects like BeCode.

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Close the Gap provides laptops for Hack Your Future

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One of the projects Close the Gap recently supported was Hack Your Future, a coding school that provides classes in computer programming for refugees. The classes take place every Sunday at BeCentral in Brussels. Their goal is to empower refugees by teaching them coding skills. This way, they are able to boost their chances of finding employment and become skilled coders and web developers.

In July, Hack Your Future organised an IT Taster Class, the first of its kind, for female refugees and asylum seekers. All classes are free and taught by volunteer coaches. Close the Gap supported this initiative by providing 5 laptops for participants who don’t own one. With Close the Gap’s help, everyone could be a part of this interesting class and all participants could enjoy the opportunity to learn developing websites. With the next class starting in September, Close the Gap will provide 10 more laptops.

If you are also interested in donating your company’s out-of-date computers or other IT material, click here.

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Women Taster Class - Hack your Future


Visiting Nobel Prize Winner Desmond Tutu, longstanding supporter of Close the Gap

Close the Gap is extremely honored and grateful for Archbishop em. Desmond Tutu’s long-lasting support.

This precious moral support has certainly been one of the driving forces behind Close the Gap’s commitment for positive and sustainable impact in Africa (through ICT4 Development).   Here are a few milestones:

  • In 2007, in presence of Desmond Tutu, Close the Gap celebrated its 50,000th donated computer asset in four years-time.
  • In 2012, Desmond Tutu refurbishes Close the Gap’s 250,000th computer asset.
  • In 2014, Close the Gap celebrated its 10th anniversary in presence of Desmond Tutu launching the ICT4D Alliance.
  • In 2017, we are proud to have gathered over 700,000 ICT assets with a record-high of 118,996 assets solely in 2017, which is the highest number of donations ever received in Close the Gap’s existence.
  • Today (26/7/18), Oliver Vanden Eynde spent a few days in South Africa and visited Desmond Tutu in Hermanus:

What a great day, having lunch with this amazing man, “Father, Arch, Desmond Tutu”, moral compass of the world and mostly amazing human being that made the world a much better place for so many and inspired many others to walk along, proud to be your friend after all those years and that you have guided me since many years in challenging and exciting moments … thank you Mama Leah for your love and friendship as well! 

Olivier & Desmond Tutu South Africa July 2018

More than ever, we believe that access to digital solutions is a key enabler for people in developing and emerging countries to improve their lives, their education and realize their full potential. Loyal to Archbishop em. Desmond Tutu’s own believe that “the sky is the limit”, we aim to leapfrog into the next decade.


Meet our new donor: Citrique Belge

New donor - websiteClose the Gap is proud to announce Citrique Belge as one of the newest donors of IT material. Citrique Belge is one of the largest citric acid producers in the world.  Citric acid is being used as a flavour enhancer in soft drinks, fruit juices, sweets, and so on. It also serves as an antioxidant in prepared meat products and canned fruit and vegetables.

Citrique Belge will soon start with its first donation of IT material. By donating out-of-date computers, Citrique Belge joins the community of over 300 organisations that are supporting Close the Gap in its mission to bridge the digital divide by providing IT equipment for educational, medical, entrepreneurial and social projects in developing and emerging countries.

“Citrique Belge is one of the oldest examples of the circular, bio-based economy in Europe.  While making substantial efforts to valorize all our side-streams so that nothing is wasted, we are pleased to give a new future to our out-of-date computers. As Close the Gap is an excellent organization, we are proud to support their mission.” – Hans De Backer, CEO Citrique Belge

Are you also interested in donating your company’s used IT material? Click here to discover how to support us.


Close the Gap presented Digitruck to the Belgian royal family on Belgium’s National Day

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On July 21st, Close the Gap, showcasing one of the Digitrucks, was present in the “Royal Village” to celebrate Belgium’s National Day and His Majesty King Philippe’s 5th year on the throne.

Close the Gap was invited to the Warande Park, across the Royal Palace, together with many other NGOs with which King Philippe has a good connection. All day, visitors were welcomed to discover one of Close the Gap’s Digitrucks (link to digitruck page), a mobile IT classroom on wheels. At the moment, Close the Gap has deployed several Digitrucks all over Africa, where children and adults can enjoy IT classes in a remarkable surrounding.

Visitors could see how such a movable IT classroom works and they could also step into the truck itself. Children could play games on the laptops while parents were informed about Close the Gap’s Digitrucks and other initiatives to bridge the digital divide.

In the evening, His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium paid the Digitruck a visit as well. Together with Queen Mathilde, the King was introduced to this computer filled and solar powered container on wheels.

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Close the Gap present at round table discussion with His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium

At the beginning of July, Close the Gap’s Founder and General Manager Olivier Vanden Eynde attended a round table discussion organised by His Majesty King Philippe of Belgium. During this interesting meeting, the participants discussed social entrepreneurship. Central was the idea that social entrepreneurs are crucial for filling in the gap between governments, NGOs and corporate organisations to cater to the underserved communities at the base of the pyramid, particularly in Africa, in areas of education, health, and many other basic goods and services.

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Close the Gap supports Malaika with 60 donated laptops

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In July, Close the Gap provided 60 donated laptops to one of its newest projects Malaika, a school and community centre in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo. Malaika, which translates to ‘angel’ in Swahili, was founded 10 years ago by Noëlla Coursaris Musunka. The school focuses on education for girls and aims at empowering Congolese girls through education and health programmes.

The 60 laptops enabled Malaika to install a computer class for both children (through the school) and parents (via the community centre).  Such a computer class increases digital skills among children and adults, which ultimately leads to Close the Gap’s aim: to bridge the digital divide.

For more information about this particular project, click here.

If you are also interested in donating out-of-date IT material to support projects such as these, click here.


Recent changes regarding Close the Gap’s Board of Directors

Over the past few weeks, several changes have taken place in Close the Gap’s Board of Directors. Three board members, Mr. Willem Lageweg, former Executive Director of MVO Nederland, Michel De Brauwer, Chairman of the Pietercil Group N.V, and Guido Vandervorst, Managing partner Innovation Deloitte Belgium, have decided to make their position available. The whole Close the Gap team would like to thank them for their long-lasting and much appreciated dedication. Their expertise and insight have contributed largely to the growth and prosperity of Close the Gap.

A new member will also join the Board of Directors. The newest board member is Bjorn  Cumps,  who  is  a  Professor  of  Financial  Services,  Innovation  and  FinTech  at  Vlerick  Business  School. Click here to view the complete list of the members of Close the Gap’s Board of Directors.

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Bjorn Cumps, new member of the board

 

Finally, a board search company has been appointed to find a new incoming chairperson who will be mandated to build up a new Board of Directors, as well as a new Board of Expert Advisors. The new chairperson will be officially appointed at the end of 2018.


Laptops for refugee camp in North Kenya

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The Kakuma Refugee camp in Kenya has 200,000 refugees who flee war and hunger from Sudan, Burundi, DR Congo and Somalia. The camp has 30 schools that do not have power supply, 1 manual per 10 students and insufficient furniture. Offering education is quite a challenge.

Free education for refugees

During a first Skype interview, Koen Timmers, a Belgian teacher and lecturer, trained the teachers of Kakuma. Soon he discovered that it would be quite a challenge. Classes count up to 200 students staring at a single laptop screen. He decided to send his own laptop to the camp and started a crowdfunding campaign.  This enabled additional laptops, a projector and a mobile solar panel to be purchased. Internet bundles are purchased in collaboration with UNHCR and LWF.  Through his Project Kakuma, Koen succeeded in involving more than 100 teachers from 40 different countries in the project. These now give daily lessons in Mathematics, Science and English and talk about culture, religion, customs and … sports!

Koen Timmers was top 10 finalist of the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.

Close the Gap furnished them with 10 notebooks, that help the teachers give ICT classes to the refugees.

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