The Orange Digital Center, an initiative for digital inclusion

On the occasion of Orange’s membership to the SOGA, let’s get to know the Orange Digital Center in favor of digital inclusion in the territories. For this, we asked Orange teams a series of questions about this innovative project to learn more about this.

Orange digital Center, an international program to promote digital skills 

The Orange Digital Center are places where digital skills are supported and developed. From coding training to digital manufacturing and business creation, they cover a wide range of activities. Free and open to all, these centers base learning on concrete projects. Training programs dedicated to digital professions are offered to students, unemployed people, school dropouts and young entrepreneurs, for example. Most Orange Digital Center also offer workshops, training and online content.

To date (September 2022), 15 Orange Digital Center have already opened in Africa and the Middle East (Tunisia, Senegal, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Jordan, etc.). In Europe, the Brussels center in Belgium welcomed its first learners last spring, while the Saint Ouen center in France opened its doors at the beginning of June. Others will soon be opened, notably in Poland, Luxembourg, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and Moldavia. Orange has decided to deploy this concept in all the countries where it operates.

The Orange Digital Center reflect the responsibility of the Group, the leading digital operator in France. To make digital an opportunity for everyone, the basic skills associated with it must be widely mastered and accessible. This program therefore aims to reduce the inequalities linked to access, equipment, uses and mastery of the digital world, by promoting connectivity, inclusion and the development of skills, without discrimination.

Orange Digital Center

A picture of the first Orange digital center in France. Photo credit: Orange

We asked Orange teams a series of questions about this innovative project: 

With whom and how do you build your programs and workshops?

The program is present in 17 countries to date. Each Orange Digital Center organizes its programming taking into account its local context, its resources, the ecosystem present and the major objectives we have set. The programs are designed to enable the acquisition of digital skills, of course, but also to promote the professional integration of people who are far from employment and to increase the proportion of women working in technology.

The complementary nature of the coding courses, the presence of the fablab and the incubator energizes our learners’ careers. The training courses are often built with partners: local fablabs, SIMPLON in Senegal, Becode in Belgium, the AWS restart program in Tunisia, the examples are numerous.

What are the challenges that Orange Digital Center will have to overcome?

Opening centers with a training space, a fablab and incubation programs in 25 countries is a challenge in itself and we are approaching the goal with 17 ODCs open by the end of August 2022. Once all the centers are open, one of our challenges will be to maintain the momentum and added value of the programs for our beneficiaries. This international network makes it an original initiative. The animation of the ODCs should be key in order to promote capitalization, exchanges and the production of commonalities. 

How do you intend to overcome them? 

For the moment, we are still in a phase of support to our subsidiaries for the opening to the first beneficiaries. Once the network is in place, we are planning joint actions to encourage capitalization between ODCs. For example, the Orange Foundation has launched a call for projects to create training for trainers in the Orange Digital Center fablabs. The partnership with SOGA should also help us better understand the issues we want to address in Europe.

As far as the impact on our beneficiaries is concerned, we have launched social impact measurements on a few programs and, without totally generalizing the approach, we would like to continue it with regular evaluations.

What is the first feedback on the Orange Digital Center opened in Saint-Ouen?

It’s a bit early to say because the activities are just starting. 

In the field of professional integration, the “Envol numérique” pre-qualification program is aimed at young school dropouts. The aim is to give them the desire to train for a job in the digital sector. During 5 weeks of training, followed by 3 weeks of internship in a company, they will acquire know-how (web developer, coding, digital manufacturing, etc.), interpersonal skills (self-knowledge, communication, etc.) and knowledge about the environment and the impact of digital technology. The first cohort has been recruited and will start end of September 2022. The place also hosts activities for the general public. The digital workshops are aimed at all audiences and aim to familiarize themselves with uses ranging from the discovery of a smartphone to the implementation of parental controls. The place also houses a fablab which is used for discovery sessions of digital fabrication. Beyond physical locations like Saint Ouen, Orange Digital Center is the Orange Group’s flagship program for digital equality and brings together many initiatives.

Some examples of available resources

Resources to discover digital responsibility

There are many free online workshops and courses available to everyone. For example, if a person is a beginner, he or she will be offered an online workshop on how to protect personal data. For parents, the digital platform offers for example a workshop to understand parental control and to set up appropriate protections. If you have a child who loves soccer, the French soccer federation has developed tools and awareness programs for responsible digital use. 

Resources to learn how to use digital tools

Training courses are offered to learn how to make the best use of digital tools. For example, the SuperCoders program allows hospitalized children to escape and have fun while learning to code. For job seekers, the Blabla Code program offers training to sharpen your digital skills and boost your resume. But you can also go on an apprenticeship in FabLabs, places where a professional or an individual can come, freely or with prior registration, to bring one of their projects to life, using innovative machines: 3D printer, connected embroidery machine, etc.

Entrepreneurial resources 

The Orange Digital Center offer useful resources to help you get started in entrepreneurship. You can find a guide to entrepreneurship, information on how to create a business, how to equip yourself and with which tools. Women entrepreneurs are also honored with presentations of inspiring women’s stories. You will also find resources related to the protection of your data and communication on the Internet. 

We hope you learned something new and that it will be useful in your digital transition or in supporting the digital transition! For more information visit their website.


About the author

Justine Coopman
Communication, Community and European public affairs
Lille, France