'Digitruck Salone' begins journey around Sierra Leone

- Tech-enabled mobile classroom constructed from a recycled shipping container is developed by Media Matters for Women and Close The Gap, funded by the Internet Society Foundation and supported by Africell

- Digitruck Salone will spend three months in each of Waterloo, Makeni and Kenema, bringing tech-focused learning opportunities to hundreds of young people and entrepreneurs

- Curriculum to include digital skills and computer literacy

8 May 2024 | Splashed in an electric palette of blues, greens, yellows and reds, ‘Digitruck Salone’ steals the attention of anyone wandering past the Amie Academy in Waterloo, a city in the lee of Sierra Leone’s mountainous Western Area National Park.

The truck, which is fashioned out of a shipping container and parked in the sun-baked schoolyard on the other side of a wall to a traffic-choked road, is an unlikely sight. But anyone climbing its steps and looking inside will be even more surprised. Lined with desks, computers, beanbags, and funky murals, the cool interior feels more like a Silicon Valley co-working space than a mobile classroom in Sierra Leone.

The truck travelled here all the way from Kenya, and its crisp paintjob is already glazed with tropical heat and dust. The journey itself took several weeks and lots of bureaucracy. Before that, months of planning went into its concept, design and financing. But it was worth it, because, having reached its destination, ‘Digitruck Salone’ is now on track to light up the educational landscape of Sierra Leone. 


Digitruck Salone is a project run by Media Matters for Women, a non-profit which takes a creative approach to giving rural women and girls better access to information on health, finance, citizenship and other issues. 

“In the past, we have focused mainly on harnessing the power of file-sharing to distribute trustworthy news via radio and podcasts” says Lisa Sebree, Chair of Media Matters for Women. “Digitruck Salone expands our scope. Fitted out with computers and lightning-quick internet, it offers a safe and welcoming physical space for teaching critical digital skills in underprivileged Sierra Leonean communities”.

The truck itself was built in Nairobi by Close The Gap, a social enterprise facilitating the re-use of high-quality corporate IT and digital equipment by charities, educational institutions and start-ups in Africa. Computers which may until recently have been used by traders in London, designers in Berlin or lawyers in Paris have now found their way into Digitruck Salone, where they will be used by potentially hundreds of Sierra Leonean youth and entrepreneurs.

Digitruck Salone’s first season will see it migrate between three locations. During each three-month stop, the truck will host classes, workshops and social activities, with an emphasis on digital skills, computer literacy and entrepreneurship. Beginning its journey in Waterloo, on the rural fringe of Sierra Leone’s coastal capital Freetown, the truck will also pass through Makeni and Kenema, two of Sierra Leone’s other big cities, in the north and south of the country respectively.

Funding for Digitruck Salone project is provided by the Internet Society Foundation. Ultra-fast digital connectivity to the vehicle is supplied by Africell, Sierra Leone’s biggest mobile operator. Digitruck Salone is the latest phase in a long-running partnership between Media Matters for Women and Africell. Previously, Africell has assisted Media Matters for Women by broadcasting its informational content through Afriradio, the company’s popular nationwide radio station. 

Shadi Gerjawi, CEO of Africell Sierra Leone, points to a shared interest at the heart of the Digitruck Salone project.

“Improved digital literacy is an essential condition for Sierra Leone’s economic development”, he argues. “Africell is doing its best to get reliable internet into the hands and pockets of more Sierra Leoneans. Data shows that the more people are connected, the greater the economic benefits foe a country. Digitruck will help more people get online by giving them the skill and confidence to use devices such as laptops and tablets in their daily lives”.

Following what is expected to be a successful nine-month pilot project, Media Matters for Women, Close The Gap and Africell are preparing to grow and extend the initiative by bringing an additional two digitrucks to Sierra Leone, so that a vehicle can be stationed for at least two years in each of the three target areas. A search for funding partners is underway.


Back at the Amie Academy in Waterloo, parents, patrons and students gather in the late afternoon shade for the official opening of the first Digitruck Salone. Music plays and banners flutter. A camera crew prepares for a live news broadcast. There is a mood of curiosity and excitement. 

Thanks to Fourah Bay College, a historic university which spills down a forested hillside in Freetown, Sierra Leone enjoys a rich association with scholarship and education. Moreover, the current national government says that making education more inclusive is a policy priority. Digitruck Salone, which adapts recycled elements into a cutting-edge learning environment, is an heir to this tradition – and a promising symbol of what is to come. The computers on board the digitruck are a transformational upgrade on what is currently available in Waterloo. And the students preparing to use it understand that they are the latest in a long line of young Sierra Leoneans using learning as a catalyst for the future.