Every cloud has a silver lining as is evident in innovations to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
Rongai area hit the headlines after recording the first coronavirus case in the country. Two months later, an innovator from the region, has come up with the first innovation of its kind, in the country. The Electronic voucher system.
The pandemic has opened many doors for homegrown innovations to sprout. Some of the inventions have been a tool in hand to help the ministry of health in combating the deadly virus.
Raphael Marambi is one such innovator who has taken advantage of the calamity. Seeing opportunities in a calamity.
Through his digital voucher innovation, the Rongai-based innovator has come up with a system that supports cashless transactions. Cashless transactions limit contacts between people thus reducing the infection rate by the Covid-19.
“We came up with this system known as EgiftVocha, to help local people purchase their goods without necessarily carrying cash with them. It is simple, transparent and timely during Covid-19 period,” said Marambi
The system is also a plus because most of the funds sent normally end up being used for other purposes. Some people could also misuse the money or spend it carelessly. Thus, the innovation makes sure the donor has control over how he would wish the donation to be utilized.
Further, his innovation comes at an opportune time. With the government still grappling with mechanisms to use cashless transfers in transactions, the system will be a silver bullet in the distribution and tracking of government donations.
“Through this innovation, one can keep tabs on the donations given to the vulnerable members of the society. This is because a donor can select the people to send donations to, straight to their phones, where the recipients can use the code to purchase items through Lipa na Mp-pesa, service, “adds Marambi
The Government had recently launched a weekly stipend programme for slum dwellers in Nairobi County, and other parts of the country to cushion them from the coronavirus grip.
“To further cushion vulnerable Kenyans, we have identified needy households in Nairobi that will the be inaugural recipients of the weekly Covid-19 support stipend. The piloting of the programme started on Wednesday and some of the initial beneficiaries have received their stipend," said President Uhuru.
However, the move which was meant to be a blessing to many has had several bottlenecks. People have died while scrambling for foodstuffs. Others, are still languishing in poverty, and ravenous hunger after the donations they expected to reach them ended up in the pockets of corrupt individuals.
Recently, a 78-year-old woman was killed and others injured in a stampede, during a food donation function in Trans-Nzoia County.
The situation came just a few days after two people were also killed and scores injured in Kibera slums, when the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga was distributing food stuffs in Kibra slums, Nairobi.
Raila, his wife Ida Odinga among other sponsors donated food, sanitizer, soap, oil and water, through the national government.
The incidents forced the national government to issue a stern directive to all well-wishers on how to channel their donations. All donors were directed to send their contributions through the Kenya Covid-19 Emergency Response Fund.
The issues of corruption and social distancing have also been cited as challenges in the distribution of these donations.
But the Standford University, digital vision fellow’s innovation, provides a timely and easy remedy to the issue. Through the system’s ability to reach millions of Kenyan’s almost instantaneously, just like an M-Pesa message would, has bridged this puzzle.
“We have designed the system to serve people of all carders. The system can be used by people who own the cheapest phones in the market like a Mulika Mwizi. You do not need to download any Application, because we use the USSD code that comes as a Short Message Service (SMS) to a recipient’s phone, “adds Marambi.
The cost of using the invention for an entity planning to send donations is also quite low. Marambi says the organization charges 1 percent of the total amount transferred through the voucher. Meaning for Sh1000 shillings, only Sh10 would be deducted.
Due to this, stakeholders are already jumping into the ship in order to enjoy the flexibility of the system. Kajiado County is one of the entities eyeing the invention.
According to James Waisha, who is a Member of County Assembly for Nkaimurunya Ward in Kajiado County, the county has also made deliberations to channel its donations through the system.
“The County Government of Kajiado is in consultation with the inventor to make sure we also chip in and deliver our donations in the system created by a resident of our own county,” said Waisha.
The legislator also took the opportunity to laud the steps being made by innovators, like Marambi, in aiding the country to combat the deadly virus.
For Marambi, the driving force for his moves in the tech world, has been informed by the quest to challenge Kenyans to believe in themselves. By using their skills to help in alleviating the challenges facing Africa.
“We can solve our own problems and ought to believe so. We are has able to come up with our own homegrown innovations to help in creating solutions for our own problems. I wish to challenge Kenyans to trust in our ability because our technologies have now matured,” says Marambi.
Other major strides have also been made by the country’s innovation sector. All these geared towards flattening the Covid-19 curve.
With the recent surge in the numbers of the Covid-19 in the country, there has been an increasing need for ventilators.
While the cost of purchasing ventilators is high, many Kenyan minds decided to stand up and be counted. Innovations to fight the deadly virus have been springing up recently, in a bid to keep the virus at bay.
Recently, two young brothers from Nandi County, after hearing the Health CS Mutahi Kagwe complain about the lack of adequate ventilators in the country, opted to roll their sleeves and offer a solution. They fabricated a portable ventilator.
Erick Sabulei and his younger brother Felix Sabulei made a simple and portable ventilator, to help coronavirus patients breathe, while at the medication desk.
“When the coronavirus pandemic struck Kenya, the government announced that it was the responsibility of every Kenyan to fight the disease. My brother and I decided to come up with a solution that would save lives,” says Felix
The duo, are just a few Kenyans using their innovations to manage the coronavirus pandemic. They believe that the war on coronavirus is a collective responsibility that calls for concerted efforts from all sectors.
Therefore, despite the adverse effects on the economy, the Covid-19 pandemic has proven to be a blessing in disguise for some. Offering a chance for budding innovators to complement efforts to beat the virus.