Tech firm secures innovation grant from Microsoft


Local firm Upepo Technology Company Ltd has secured a grant from Microsoft to extend its innovative development of intelligent water management solutions.

The solution is meant to support water utilities, agriculture, community associations and large abstractors of surface and groundwater to accurately measure and manage the commodity while predicting future trends in consumption.

The grant of $50,000 (Sh5 million) will be extended to the firm for the next five years totaling to 250,000 (Sh25 million).

Under the Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Earth Grant from Microsoft, Upepo will enhance its capabilities to deploy low-cost Internet of Things (IoT) devices that receive real-time data for decision-making, insight and early remedial action.

This is meant to reduce water losses and enhance revenue across the water value chain across the country.

About 42 per cent of treated water lost in non-monetary deals that have denied the sector about Sh7.6 billion in revenue annually.

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Upepo Chief Executive Kevin Kihara said the grant allows the firm to access Azure Cloud, IoT, and AI resources to develop products that effectively mitigate water losses.

“Water losses are a perpetual threat to the health of rivers, riparian areas, ground sources, and catchment zones in a period in which Africa faces a threat of rapidly urbanising population growth in an environment of systemic climate change ,” he said.

Philanthropies Regional Director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa Ghada Khalifa noted that the demand for fresh water is predicted to outpace supply in the next two decades, adding that the intelligent cloud and AI can help manage and protect fresh water.

“Through Microsoft’s AI for Earth programme, we are excited to partner with Upepo as they develop innovative intelligent solutions that will both conserve and improve critical access to Kenya’s water supply.”

Leveraging on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, Upepo will under a one-year programme develop key capabilities in cloud computing, IoT and AI to support water service providers in managing, predicting and preparing for growth in higher demand for the commodity.

AI for Earth is a Sh5 billion a five-year programme for those working to solve global challenges in climate change, agriculture, water, and biodiversity.

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