STEVE Galloway set off on the epic 7-Rivers Journey of Discovery to celebrate Namibia’s role as a custodian of the environment as well as to promote new technological innovations that has the potential to make the gigantic task of conservation and education easier for all people involved.
Steve pedalled off on the epic 4 000-kilometre journey along the length and breadth of Namibia to promote new technology in the form of a bicycle that is both human and battery powered and at the same time to focus the attention people on increased environmental awareness.
His two-month long road trip will traverse the country from the south to the north and will incorporate Namibia’s perennial rivers.
Steve is a well-known figure from the Namibian banking and mining sectors, and more recently also the tourism sector, where he currently also serves as the chairperson of the Gondwana Collection Namibia.
With his proudly Namibian-assembled SunCycles e-bike, Steve’s road trip got underway at the Orange River and will proceed upcountry to the northern reaches of Namibia, from where he will traverse the area bordering the Kunene River and end in the far north-eastern corner on the Zambezi River.
The ‘7-Rivers Journey of Discovery’ is a trip that was born from the idea to cycle the length of Namibia from north to south ten years ago with a conservation incentive. This idea has grown and transformed over the years, as Steve stretched his limits and extended his reach. He shares the vast knowledge and expertise garnered during his lifetime on the boards and committees of several prominent Namibian organisations including MTC, the Gondwana Collection, Public Private Partnership, Chamber of Environment, Institute of Corporate Governance and the Community Conservation Fund of Namibia, a recently established fund to coordinate support for Namibia’s 83 conservancies.
Another important part of the journey is to celebrate Namibia’s role as a custodian of the environment, as enshrined in its constitution. A total of 47% of the country is now under protection, either as a national park, private conservation area or conservancy. The area he once wished to travel through is now the Dorob National Park, one of the largest parks in the world, consolidating all the other parks on Namibia’s western front from the Ai-Ais Richtersveld Transfrontier Park to the Iona National Park in Angola.
Steve says that even though Namibia is a dry country, the rivers – incorporating the seven perennial rivers (including the Cuvelai Drainage System) and the ephemeral rivers – are the lifeblood of many people who live along them, and are important for tourism and wildlife, including the shared cross-border ecosystem. He hopes to initiate dialogue with the communities along these river courses to identify suitable localities and assess where corporate Namibia can improve sustainability in these areas.
A focus of the trip is e-powering – or e-enablement – as Steve’s bike illustrates, to show what e-mobility can do and to encourage a bike culture in Namibia. He will be highlighting the importance of both e-mobility and e-connectivity to ultimately empower rural communities. These will grow BENN Namibia’s (Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia) concept that “bikes can change people’s lives”. The aim is to include e-bikes as they become more affordable – converted into all-purpose bikes to be used as load-carriers, taxis, ambulances and game guard vehicles.
Furthermore, the 35 shipping containers countrywide where donated bicycles and refurbishment training are provided for communities will gradually be transformed into e-boxes or e-hubs, tailored to the needs of the communities. The e-boxes were initially known as Bicycle Empowerment Centres, developed by BENN in cooperation with Bicycles for Humanity, but the name has changed as the centres encompass more services. Some of these containers have already expanded into Enterprise Boxes or e-boxes, and others are being used as centres for kindergartens and after-school support.
With MTC’s ‘081 for everyone’, an endeavour to provide connectivity to every group of Namibians, e-learning will become a reality and the e-boxes can become e-hubs or even e-schooling centres. As shown with successful Wi-free projects in Zambia, educational content can be downloaded by teachers onto tablets for after-school education supplementation. Self-learning modules, as seen in centres like PAY (Physically Active Youths, have the potential to catapult learners into the professional arena, and can be incorporated into these hubs, making content and digital skills widely available to everyone.
Sponsors of the two-month long bike trip already include the Community Conservation Fund, RMB, FirstRand Namibia, Pupkewitz, Wilderness Safaris and B2Gold.
During his bike trip, Steve will be hosted by the Gondwana Collection at their lodges along the route, and Gondwana will be providing updates and covering the full story of his journey. All support in the form of donations for the e-hubs, including bicycles, charging stations, tablets and cell phones can be directed to the Gondwana Care Trust, Gondwana’s social cause. A schedule of Steve’s destinations will be made available for all those wishing to join him on the various legs of his journey.
The Gondwana Collection invited people to follow Steve’s epic 7-Rivers E-powering Journey of Discovery on Gondwana’s Facebook Page and join their WhatsApp group for the latest information.