the digital divide

Silicon Savannah Mission


Scroll down for the PRESS COVERAGE

See photobook here

From 20 to 24 March 2018, and Close the Gap joined forces to organize a truly unique mission to Kenya, one of the most entrepreneurial countries in Africa, with a startup scene that attracts developers and investors from all over the world.   

Honored by the presence of Minister De Croo, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, and a delegation of 40 representing leading Belgian start-ups, corporations and NGOs. (Click here for the Detailed Final Programme)

Watch the compilation video of the Silicon Savannah mission to Kenya below:




Monday 19/03

On Monday 19th March, Close the Gap’s team traveled to Kenya for the Silicon Savannah Mission. Before the other participants arrived on Tuesday, the team prepared the last details in order to welcome everyone on March 20th.


Tuesday 20/03

Over the course of this day, all the participants arrived for the mission to officially start on Wednesday.  In total, 45 participants joined the Silicon Savannah Mission to Kenya, including Minister Alexander De Croo, startups, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and press. Objective: discover the Kenyan tech and startup scene.

Wednesday 21/03

Click here to read the press release about the mission issued by the Belgian Federal Public Service of Foreign Affairs.

The very first visit took the participants to M-KOPA, Kenya’s solar energy scale-up, which is an important Safaricom-partner. During the visit, participants discussed industry challenges in fintech, agritech and cleantech, and the respective solutions Safaricom and M-KOPA have to offer in those fields.


After lunch, the group visits Gearbox makerspace. In today’s Kenya, the greatest challenges require hardware-based solutions, but building hardware locally is very difficult. Kenya’s designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs need affordable access to quality tools, and an ecosystem of support to provide an on-ramp to manufacturing. The participants of the mission learn that Gearbox helps build this ecosystem. Gearbox also gives trainings in design, prototyping, and manufacturing, along with low-cost access to world class facilities. After an introduction to this initiative, the group received a guided tour through the makerspace. Afterwards, they attended number of interesting presentations from different startups in the Gearbox ecosystem.


In the evening, a visit was planned to the Belgian Embassy. Here, D4D-Be initiator Minister De Croo, Ambassador Nicolas Nihon, Close the Gap Olivier Vanden Eynde and Karen Boers from, gave inspiring speeches, which kicked-off of a truly intercultural networking evening between startups and local industry at the Belgian Ambassador’s Residence.

Thursday 22/03

In the morning, the group visited Metta co-working space, where they attended a presentation of the Kenyan tech landscape. After an entertaining intro by Kenyan Minister of ICT and Belgian Minister De Croo, the group heard more from Kenyan and Belgian players such as KenInvest, Overview, Ewala, Elewa, Kytabu, and Right Here.


After lunch, the participants were welcomed at Nailab, an incubator hub. There, co-creation workshops were set up with a mix of Belgian and Kenyan startups, which were linked together by industry. The different groups co-created exciting business ideas and discussed opportunities to collaborate. To see the recorded live-feed of the Belgium Meets Kenya event at Nailab, click here.


In the co-creation sessions of the D4D-be context, it was also the perfect time to announce a unique partnership between VIA Don Bosco, SettleMint and Howest on the application of blockchain technology. Click here to read the press release issued by SettleMint. Click here to read more on this partnership.

In the evening, a Belgian Meetup with pizza and beers at Nailab was an amazing end of this second day on the mission.

Friday 23/03

The first visit of the day was Andela, which is Africa’s most renowned startup that received funding from the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. This school is an example of an investment in Africa’s best talent to integrate them in top tech companies.


After lunch, the group attended an investor session at Right Here offices for an overview of the local Venture Capital scene. Some of our Belgian startups also pitched for a jury composed of investors.


For those leaving that evening, a goodbye dinner was organised.

Saturday 24/03

The participants that stayed for an additional day visited the WEEE Recycle Centre on Saturday morning. This Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Centre is supported by WorldLoop and Close the Gap.  During that occasion, the 6th digitruck, a mobile IT class, was inaugurated.


Photos copyright Close the Gap,, Translieu

Press coverage (Dutch) (Film reportage 1) (2) (Dutch) (Film reportage 2)

De Tijd (Dutch) Wanneer overleven ondernemen wordt.

De Tijd (Dutch) Ontwikkelingshulp komt ook via het 4G-netwerk

La Libre (French) Close the Gap transforme nos vieux “ordis” en outils de développement / Click here to read online and watch an interview with Close the Gap’s founder Olivier Vanden Eynde (French) Pourquoi les start-up belges lorgnent le Kenya

La Libre Belgique (French) Alexander De Croo joue la carte du numérique en Afrique (French) Au Kenya, les start-up activent le développement / online and slightly longer version (French) (French) Black Panther, la fierté des start-ups africaines (French) Quand le digital participe au développement

De Tijd (Dutch) (English) (English) (French) (French) (French) (English) (Dutch) (2) (Dutch) (3) (Dutch) (French) (French) (Dutch) (French) (2) (French) (3) (Dutch) (French) (French) (French) (French) (Dutch) (English)


Photos free to use under copyright Close the Gap,, Translieu (those with Andela mention: copyright: Braddox Ogilo)

Need more photos?  Contact us.


Participants :

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Belgian Delegation to Andela Kenya

Belgian Delegation to Andela Kenya





Jan 2018: Engage with Kenya, the Silicon Savannah!  

Africa is the tech continent of the future! As a new generation of young and ambitious people in Africa reaches the adult working age, the number of job openings in African tech startups skyrockets.

At least 370 tech hubs have sprung up all over the continent in the last few years. The number of new tech ventures has also risen to 3.500, with $1 billion in venture capitalavailable to accelerate these companies (2016-2019).

The African tech hubs consistently make headlines in their effort to accelerate technology businesses at the grassroots level. They bring many new ideas and innovations, and provide in a gigantic source of employment opportunities for the local population.

The origin of Africa’s tech movement can be traced back to Kenya, and to its capital Nairobi, that has been home to several major technological innovations in the 21stcentury. These innovations birthed Kenya as the Silicon Valley of Africa, now better known as the Silicon Savannah. Find out more via this link.

Close the Gap and, together with key partners GEN Belgium and GEN Kenya, want to raise awareness about the tech boom on the fast-developing continent, and want to link young Belgian companies that have their eyes on the African markets to the local tech ecosystem in Kenya.

Both the organizers also aim for the co-creation of pilot projects in the ‘digital for development’-area, with mixed Kenyan and Belgian teams. Close the Gap strategic idea is to initiate a social impact fund that has the vision to invest in such projects.

During our four-day mission to Kenya, we will visit – amongst other things – the Nailaband other tech incubators in Nairobi, the edutech startup Kytabu (award winner of the prestigious King Boudewijn Foundation African Development Prize), Africa’s most renowned investor Wananchi GroupJumia (the Amazon of Africa), etc.

“Our delegates will get the opportunity to mingle and network with the most prominent players in the local tech ecosystem”, says Frederik Tibau of “We also throw in an ‘innovation challenge’ to stimulate digital co-creation between young Belgian and Kenyan companies.”

“Innovation challenges, that assist entrepreneurs in idea generation and development, stimulate young people to set up a company and make an impact”, argues managing director Olivier Van den Eynde of Close the Gap. “Moreover, the best startups that emerge from those workshops could be potentially supported by Close the Gap.”

Furthermore, participants will get to know the ins and outs of the mobile money transfer service M-pesa (31% of GDP in Kenya is processed through M-Pesa) and the Kenyan kyama’s – micro banks for small communities. A lot of innovation takes place in those small initiatives.


Will you join us and:

  • Get to know one of the most thriving tech ecosystems in the world.
  • Work together with Kenian startups and co-create winning solutions that can be adopted locally or internationally. 
  • Mingle with fellow entrepreneurs from Kenya and learn from each other.
  • Explore the Kenyan market, and get to know the needs of the locals. 
  • Meet some of the key players in the Kenyan tech industry and in the start-up community. 
  • Learn about the opportunities that arise in Kenya and in Africa, and validate your idea with local entrepreneurs and investors in an interactive setting.
  • Get acquainted with the Kenyan fintech scene, and with the Kenyan micro banks. 
  • Find local partners 
  • … 


The price of the mission to Kenya is 1500 euro per person for startups, and 3000 euro per person for corporations and investors including hotel (without VAT). The price excludes flights.



To register: Contact ,+32 497 25 56 01 .

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About is the one stop shop for Belgian tech entrepreneurs. We partner with startups to reach their global ambition, we facilitate joint innovation with business partners worldwide, and we’re the reference center of expertise in the Belgian startup ecosystem. 

About Close the Gap

Access to information and communication technology (ICT) is essential for people to improve their lives and realize their full potential. Particularly in rural and / or disadvantaged areas in developing countries where people still live off grid and are not connected with the developments in the rest of the world. Providing them with ICT access to information, innovations and global interaction is one of the major drivers of sustainable economic and social development, on an unprecedented scale. We have over a decade of experience in bridging the digital divide and igniting ICT entrepreneurship in Africa and the world.

D4D Platform

First of its kind, the Belgian Digital for Development platform will be launched in November 2017.  Coordinated by Close the Gap and Agoria.  Its focus is co-creation, creating a knowledge sharing eco system in Belgium on digital for development projects and opportunities, stimulating private sector engagement in the development sector.