Demo Africa showcases Kenya’s tech genius
By By LILLIAN KIARIE | October 29th 2013
By LILLIAN KIARIE
KENYA TECH GENIUS: Most successful tech entrepreneurs made their fortunes by translating an idea into an innovation. In Kenya, however, the largest obstacles to creating the next big application are a lack of start-up capital and technical support.
In a bid to remedy this, Demo Africa last week fashioned a platform for tech start-ups to pitch their high-tech innovations to potential investors and partners for funding.
More than 300 entrepreneurs applied to launch at the conference, but only 42 made it to the finals.
The conference showcased the latest trends in disease management applications, games, mobile payment systems, social savings and energy applications, leaving investors, tech buyers and innovation supporters from various parts of the world in awe.
The stage is, therefore, set for Africa’s newest innovative applications in mobile technology, social media, consumer products, cloud services and enterprise technologies to go public.
We look at five of the most innovative and interesting applications from Kenyan developers that impressed the judges during the event.
Phone charging shoes
Anthony Mutua has invented mobile phone charging shoes with ultra-thin chips of crystal fitted to the bottom of the sole.
As a user walks, runs, dances or makes any movement, he or she generates electricity through the pressure exerted when the shoe is stepped on.
The device costs around Sh1,240 and charges the phone through an extension cable that runs from the shoe to the pocket.
The chips are placed in a way that makes them waterproof. They have a life span of six to eight years. When the shoe wears out, the gadgets can be transplanted into any other shoe, except for shower slippers.
According to Mutua, an 800-metre walk is enough to get a phone to full charge. If no gadget is connected to drain the charge, the chips can store energy for weeks after charging. The device can charge several devices at the same time.
Kenya has about 18 million mobile phone users, creating a vast market for this invention.
Chamas, or investment groups, have become a byword in Kenya. They have become the most popular way for family members, friends or workmates to pool funds for various needs. However, poor record keeping and a lack of proper accountability systems have curtailed the growth of some groups, and even destroyed others. This is where Chamasoft comes in.
Martin Njuguna’s invention sets to manage all group activities and communications. The easy-to-use web and mobile application monitors collection and investment of funds, and tracks group income and expenditure. Through cloud-based software, chama members are able to view group accounts such as their cash statements, how much they have contributed throughout their chama lifetime, their penalties contributed and any other financials.
Those unable to attend meetings can still be present virtually. Chamasoft also offers free SMS and email alerts for meetings and tracks member invitations.
The service is available at Sh100 per user per month, with an advanced package being offered at Sh250 per user per month.
Mobile gaming is relatively unembraced among many users of mobile devices, despite the presence of several gaming applications from software developers in the country.
Several tech start-ups and individual developers, however, have begun trying to make gaming popular. Jooist is just one of the more recent games to have taken Kenya’s nascent gaming industry by storm.
The application, which was among the 40 finalists at this year’s edition of Demo Africa, is a gaming platform that allows users discover and play free games. It also connects them to their friends and enables them share scores and compete.
Users register and create a profile on the Jooist web portal or through its mobile-based application, which then allows them to browse and download games for free. After each game, users can post their scores on the Jooist platform, allowing them to win trophies and unlock badges.
The game also aggregates the progress of players similar to one’s profile, allowing you to challenge prospective rivals.
Unemployment and the growing youth bulge have made Kenya a country of angry millions. This inspired two female techies to create a social job-matching service for emerging markets to curb the growing dissatisfaction. They call it Duma.
The product gives job seekers and employers a network through which to connect, based on social contacts, location, job skills and hiring criteria.
If an employer has a job opportunity, she or he can call or message Duma, or post the opening online. Duma’s software then automatically does a database search for job seekers who best fit the position. It looks at skills, work experience, reviews from other employers, geographic proximity and social network connections.
Once the job contract ends, both the employee and employer have the opportunity to rate each other and the work experience. This creates accountability for both employees and employers. It also creates a record of a Duma user’s performance, which can be leveraged to improve job matches over time. Duma focuses mainly on entry-level and short-term positions around Kenya. Aspiring employees access it for free.
Designing an application that goes viral is a dream software developers would like to see come true. For the creators of RemoteCycle, this dream appears to be close to reality.
The application allows utility companies to create an interactive and effective system that eliminates errors in the calculation of customers’ bills.
RemoteCycle exploits smart metres, smartphone applications and other digital technology, allowing utility companies like water and energy providers to automatically inform their end-users of consumption.
The platform links with existing mobile money payment infrastructure. It is also available on feature phones, making it accessible in remote areas where smartphone penetration is low.
To install RemoteCycle, businesses with 100 to 999 customers pay a subscription fee of Sh8,500 per month, plus Sh10 for every transaction and 1.5 per cent of revenue. Firms with more than 1,000 customers, pay Sh43,000 each month, plus Sh10 per transaction and 1.5 per cent of revenue.
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