Digital for Development: 2020 activities and team update

Posted on Mar 11, 2020 6:53 AM by

Since October 2017, the Digital for Development program is all about creating an environment where experts in Development Cooperation (typically NGOs or non-profit associations) and experts of the Digital sector can meet and collaborate. The end goal being to use more digital solutions to enable more impact towards the Sustainable Development Goals in developing countries.

The D4D team recently met with DGD (the Belgian Development cooperation) to review the 2019 activities and present the 2020 plan below.

It was also the opportunity to announce a team change with Marnick Vanlee, taking on the D4D lead and replacing Julie de Bergeyck, who shared:

It was an honor to help launch and manage the “Digital for Development” project for the past 2 years 1/2 on behalf of Close the Gap. Together with Agoria, it was a fantastic adventure help ignite partnerships between the private sector in Belgium and the actors of development. I am convinced that Minister De Croo's vision of this D4D program is more than ever valid and that digital solutions may surely contribute to more impactful development in Africa. I was touched by the passion and enthousiasm of the colleagues, partners, and many stakeholders of this project. I am grateful and wish them all the best to fullfill their professional and personal dreams."

The efforts made by the D4D team over the past three years have allowed the community to grow rapidly, and the benefits of D4D have gained widespread recognition within the public, private and non-profit sector.

For the coming years, we want to place even more efforts in exploiting some of the most impactful activities in the D4D ecosystem. In particular, the co-creation efforts between the private sector actors and non-profit organizations have proven to be the most demanding, but also the most promising and will receive renewed attention.

The yearly status meeting with DGD (on March 4th) was a good opportunity to show our ambitions to intensify the D4D efforts for the Belgian ecosystem. The strategy note on D4D - that is up for revision in the coming months - expresses the intention of DGD to be a front runner on the European level, which opens possibilities for the Belgian D4D community to leverage EU funds and support.

Some of the specific activities that we will (further) develop are:

  • Tech4Development workshops: these are inspirational workshops where practical use cases (in low-income regions) involving digital technologies are presented to an audience of non-profit organizations and private sector companies. The goal is primarily to show attendants the potential of D4D-related collaborations in their own area of work, and to fuel their imagination.
  • D4D Power sessions: these targeted sessions - for which the methodology/approach is still under construction - are intended to offer non-profit organizations the opportunity to explore their specific activities and challenges with a (or multiple) tech expert. This should allow them to identify very concrete technologies that might be useful in their area of work.
  • Go Global Mission: intended to offer participating NGOs, private sector companies and government officials the opportunity to discover the booming tech start-up scenes in Africa. The previous editions have created concrete partnerships and more cooperation with local start-ups and development actors.
  • stimulate the exchange of knowledge and best practices from the D4D ecosystem on the platform and invest in online and offline matchmaking of people and organizations that might benefit from each other's network or services.

The D4D year will start with a round of face-to-face meetings with important stakeholders in the Belgian (and EU) D4D ecosystem, in order to evaluate the activities and strategic vision of the past. This will help us to redefine our goals and to shape a strategy for the future that is supported and carried out by all of these stakeholders. Furthermore, we will organize a high-level stakeholder workshop to define concrete action points for this strategy and vision, resulting in a steering committee to provide a professional follow-up of the D4D community. This working group or steering committee will also make propositions for the anticipated update of the D4D Strategy Note from DGD.

We would like to invite anyone and everyone who has an interest in D4D-related activities to stroll around the platform to explore the D4D efforts that exist or that might take shape in the future. You can also directly contact us through the platform, or by email to or (for matters related to communication).

"I very much look forward to continue the great work that Julie has done to put the D4D ecosystem on the map in Belgium. My experience within Close the Gap over the past three years has given me a good sense of what partnerships with the private sector can offer non-profit organizations that are looking to maximize the impact on the terrain. I will serve the D4D community to the best of my abilities and intend to help create as many concrete partnerships as possible. Looking forward to an impactful year for the D4D community!" - Marnick Vanlee