In the first week of September, the city and OCMW (the public centre for social well-being in Belgium) of Poperinge, a city in the Belgian province of West Flanders, donated a part of their out-of-date IT material to Close the Gap.
Together, the city council and the OCMW decided it would be better to donate their material to Close the Gap than to throw it away. By giving a second life to their used material, Poperinge and Close the Gap can together support various educational, health or social projects in emerging and developing countries.
The donated material consisted of around 20 printers and servers, for which we would like to thank both the city and OCMW of Poperinge. This example shows that all kinds of IT material, and not only computers, can be refurbished and reused to bridge the digital divide.
Read the press coverage of this donation below (in Dutch):
Click here if you are also interested in donating you organisation’s old IT material.
Close the Gap, together with Soulco Kenya (a technology firm) and the Kenya Ports Authority, will sponsor and support the first port/maritime hackathon in Kenya. This hackathon will take place during the IAME (International Association of Maritime Economists) conference 2018 in Mombasa, Kenya. The IAME is the largest organisation of scholars active in the field of shipping, ports, and maritime logistics. The annual conference will host the mini-hackathon on September 12th.
A hackathon is essentially solving problems in a creative way. During a hackathon, people with different professional backgrounds come together and brainstorm around an issue for which they try to find a solution. This solution is often supported by the use of technology. This particular hackathon in Kenya was born out of the need to accelerate and innovate technology in the field of sustainability and logistics technology. The challenge for the participants is to work on innovations around stakeholders within a port and maritime environment.
This hackathon focused on maritime solutions closely fits Close the Gap’s aim to support local (tech) entrepreneurship. It is namely through local innovative ideas that societal issues can be tackled. Besides this hackathon, Close the Gap’s own Leap² Innovation Challenges (link to Leap² page) are also an example of this idea.
This August, Close the Gap’s founder and managing director, Olivier Vanden Eynde, travelled to Nigeria together with Close the Gap’s current chair of the board of directors, Professor Wim Blonk, and his successor as chair, Christina von Wackerbarth. During this trip they discovered the booming tech ecosystem of West Africa and had an off-site board meeting.
The trip was particularly interesting because of the vibrant ‘tech for development’ scene that they witnessed in Lagos, capital city of Nigeria and the largest metropolitan city of Africa, with 21 million inhabitants. In Lagos, the Close the Gap delegation visited an ICT refurbishing market (part of the informal economy) and they also met the professional ICT services company Hinckley.
The visit to Hinckley yielded a positive outcome of this three-day trip. Close the Gap and WorldLoop are currently discussing a service partner agreement with Hinckley. Concretely, this would mean that Hinckley would represent Close the Gap in Nigeria and the neighboring countries in which Hinckley is active, such as Ghana, Benin, and Togo.
“Lagos is probably the most vibrant tech ecosystem I’ve witnessed personally with many incubators and co-working innovation spaces. What really struck me positively is the key focus on environmental e-waste solutions and how the private sector is being enabled as a real actor in this livelihood.” – Olivier Vanden Eynde, managing director Close the Gap.
Olivier Vanden Eynde also visited Nigeria for a second time in August. The second visit was planned in context of his mandate as a jury member of the Koning Boudewijnstichting African Development Prize. This Prize seeks to reward outstanding contributions to development in Africa, initiated and led by Africans, as well as to draw attention to the many inspirational stories, challenges, and successes emerging from the African continent.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
Close 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.
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.
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.