New Ways director William Carson reflects on some of the changes we’ve seen:
Africa today is evolving at pace. Innovations in technology, telecommunications and mobile banking are accompanied by new physical infrastructure and emerging economic models. While Nigeria’s population is one of the youngest in the world, Kenya is a hub for new technology in finance and payments.
During our visit in 2020, for me, after a gap of 9 years, the more obvious examples of this included the new road out of Lodwar heading south to Nairobi, the goat herders on motorbikes and even new roads in and around Turkana. While staying at Lobur, Alex, one of New Ways former directors, commented on the change in communications – where once the expensive satellite link, fraught with maintenance issues was the only way to make a call, today the team picks up Safaricom’s mobile network from a telecom mast a mere 5kms away!
As Fernando, New Ways Chairman and one of the founders, said while we were there, all of this makes the projects we support even more urgent, to ensure the Turkana don’t get left behind. This is especially true in education but even then, this depends on an ecosystem of water, health, and agriculture projects to nourish, sustain and help the Turkana communities to thrive.
While celebrating the 25-year anniversary of funding our first project, the future is no less an urgent challenge as we raise funds to ensure that the advances in Africa don’t exclude the people of Turkana, especially the next generation.
As we know, technology and innovation aren’t always equitable in the benefits they bestow. Much as here in the UK where we have our own pockets of economically disadvantaged communities, Turkana is such a community within a Kenyan context. Our role in supporting a future that will bring benefits to Turkana and avoid further alienation of our friends and communities there, is key to the next 25 years.