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.