Safaricom is targeting fresh produce firms, supermarkets and horticultural firms with cold chain solutions to help them curb commodity losses even as it diversifies revenue streams.
The giant telco has invited companies involved in the supply and manufacturing of cold chain solutions to tender for their provision as it seeks deals in the fast-growing sector.
Kenya is one of the biggest exporters of cut flowers in the world, accounting for about 38 per cent of imports into the European Union.
Experts say while this industry has developed relatively advanced cold chain systems, those established for other temperature-controlled foods such as fruits, vegetables, meat and dairy have been more ad-hoc.
Safaricom said it will deploy its technology in pre-cooling, refrigerated storage, and refrigerated transport to enable Kenyan firms to curb postharvest and retail losses.
"Safaricom Plc intends to engage the services of the reputable supplier(s) for the provision of Cold Chain Management solutions for remote monitoring and controlling of cold chain facilities including storage, logistics, and distribution assets enabled by IoT technology," said Safaricom in internal documents seen by Standard Business.
Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a network of interconnected smart devices, vehicles, buildings, and other everyday objects that contain sensors, processors, and wireless communication components that enable them to communicate with computers, servers, and one another and to collect, use, analyse, store and share data. "Safaricom shall engage selected partners to supply various categories of cold chain solutions to be used in developing cold storage, cold logistics and cold distribution solutions for in Kenya," explained Safaricom.
Safaricom wants vendors to supply it with cold chain monitoring hardware, sensors, and software.
They will also be required to provide end-to-end testing installation, integration, and support of hardware or sensors into various cold chain assets.
Safaricom wants to tap into the largely agricultural-based economy which has created a demand for new cold chain storage solutions.
The country has over 200 exporters of fruit and vegetables, the majority being small and medium-sized companies. Foreign consumers are demanding new forms of prepared fresh fruits and vegetables, which can require washing, peeling, cutting, and packaging in small units.
Locally, the formal local food retail sector (supermarkets) is also growing as household incomes rise. The growth of multinational quick-service restaurants is another key driver for demand in the cold chain industry.
Safaricom has been seeking to diversify its income from voice, short message services, cash transfers, and payments.