When the government called on the youth to play an active role in fighting the spread of Covid-19, two brothers took up the challenge with glee.
Dan Bundi, 29, and his younger brother Ezra, 23, immediately went to work, putting their tech skill to good use by developing a revolutionary product that assists in, among other things, tracing people who could have come in contact with Covid-19 patients.
Covident, an acronym of Covid and Identity, is an innovative tech-based platform that uses the Internet and USSD in the case of feature phones, with the server interconnected to a smartcard that provides a quick response code that carries an individual’s bio-data, name, place of testing and the places they have visited.
When one is tested for the virus, this information is uploaded to the server that, according to Dan, has infinite space.
While not at liberty to divulge more details on how the system works as they are in the process of patenting it, he is quick to point out that Covident is not an app, but a web-based end-to-end platform.
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He is the Chief Executive of Naitech, the host company for Covident and some other 41 tech firms in the country.
Dan studied electronic engineering at the University of Nairobi and has certification in computer programming.
He also has a commerce degree from KCA University.
Ezra, on the other hand, studied statistics and data science at the University of Nairobi and handles operations at Naitech.
“We were consultants during the last census. We later noticed everyone was giving innovations around tracing during the Covid-19 period. We, therefore, saw an opportunity for our organisation to partner with others,” Dan told Financial Standard.
The platform has drawn the attention of the government, and the brothers have held virtual demonstrations on how it works for the Health ministry’s digital team.
Internationally, Dan said, they are also in talks with Ugandan, Rwandan and South African authorities on how Covident can be integrated into these countries’ contact tracing systems.
But despite the interest from the Kenyan Health ministry, the brothers said not much has come out of the talks on scaling up its use locally.
“There is better reception outside than locally. We had a meeting with a team in New York, and they want this to be up and running. Our biggest problem as Africans is we don’t want to embrace what’s ours,” said Ezra.
They are, however, hopeful of a major windfall as the pandemic evolves.
“We are discussing jurisdiction buyouts of about Sh300 million, but they were negotiating for Sh100 million then they make a profit off that. Locally, the offer is about Sh10 million,” said Dan.
He said despite the government’s apathy in embracing the new technology, they have received much-needed support from the private sector, including the National Covid-19 Response.
The platform was rolled out in Kisii in May.