Digital is the new water: Trending in missions

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On a trip to Kenya, I noticed a slightly run down water tower behind the property’s “kitchen” hut. When I asked whether it was still being used to store “emergency” water for their frequent droughts, the owner laughed and said, “no, that’s the only place where we can get cell coverage. We had to build steps and a platform with a railing so that we and our guests can safely ascend and make our communications.”

Later the next day, I stood in line at the bottom of the tower hot and ironically thirsty waiting my turn to ascend, wave my phone in the air and move around the platform until I found an elusive pocket of coverage to be able to assuage my need for connectedness.

Throughout history, Africa’s nomadic tribes roamed between watering holes. These days, migration patterns have shifted to people roaming between cell phone service areas. Think about it, with a the press of a few buttons, you can find out where the nearest water is, check the current price of bananas in the city, pull up a bus schedule, or request emergency medical attention. This is just a handful of reasons why:

  • 7 in 10 Africans own a mobile phone.[1]
  • Mobile phone usage everywhere in sub-Saharan Africa is growing about 18 percent every year.[2]
  • Even in Sudan, a country whose already fragile economy has been devastated by war, mobile technology penetration is 45 percent. [3]
  • By 2015, every African will have a cell phone.[4]

DigitalWith what is becoming knows as the “computerization of Africa,” the demand for and purchase of personal computing devices has skyrocketed.[5] Unfortunately, children in many rural areas and impoverished villages are unable to benefit from this technology boom. This is why we are pioneering a new Digital Wells program. Digital Wells will equip local churches in these underserved areas to become the information and technological hubs of their villages. By providing computers, training and digital Scripture engagement programs to local church leaders, these “wells” will benefit children and youth and their communities by functioning as a gathering place for connection and interaction with the greater outside world.Our hope is that through this unique initiative, the local church will essentially become the place you go for answers!

Kenya Digital

We are working on launching the first few Digital Wells as I type this, and we are excited about the being a part of equipping local churches to speak to Africa’s up and coming generation of digital natives in the new oral tradition of their culture via technology. Giving access to enriched storytelling, whether it’s via Bible App for Kids or Incredible Islands, not only allows African children to experience the story of the Gospel, but also to benefit from the intentionally embedded knowledge-increasing aspects of literacy, SoccerGiveawayAnswernumeracy, logic, skill-building and pre-loaded social outlets that will speak to this socially-oriented culture.

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[1]http://allafrica.com/stories/201310160700.html
[2] http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/mobile-phone-usage-explodes-africa-spurring-innovation/ [3]http://csi.mckinsey.com/Knowledge_by_region/Europe_Africa_Middle_East/africaconsumer.aspx [4]http://csi.mckinsey.com/Knowledge_by_region/Europe_Africa_Middle_East/africaconsumer.aspx [5]http://www.africa-business.com/features/computers.html