Silicon Savannah Mission

Kenya - March 20-23 2018

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.

Watch the compilation video of the Silicon Savannah mission to Kenya here.


Journal of the Mission

Monday 19/03

On Monday 19th March, Close the Gap’s team traveled to Kenya for the Silicon Savannah Mission. Before the other participants would arrive 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 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, start-ups, entrepreneurs, NGOs, and press. The objective was clear: discover the Kenyan tech and start-up 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 learned 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 a number of interesting presentations from different start-ups in the Gearbox ecosystem.

In the evening, a visit to the Belgian Embassy was planned. Here, D4D-Be initiator Minister De Croo, Ambassador Nicolas Nihon, Close the Gap's Olivier Vanden Eynde and Karen Boers from, gave inspiring speeches, which kicked off a truly intercultural networking evening between start-ups 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 start-ups, 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 Meet-up 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 to Andela, which is Africa’s most renowned start-up 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 start-ups also pitched for a jury composed of investors.

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

Saturday 24/03

The participants who 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 of the mission can be found here.

Photobook can be found here.