18 January 2013

Kenya: Local Water APP Wins Global Contest

Photo: Jessica Hatcher/IRIN
A man loads water collected from Lake Kivu onto his bicycle for sale in the rebel-held city of Goma, DRC.

A locally developed SMS based application, MajiRipoti, has emerged top in a global contest.The app is aimed at improving role of water service providers, which is a major problem especially among urban dwellers in Kenya.

The MajiRipoti solution is designed to link the general public and water service providers. It allows the Kenyan public to report broken water pipes, sewer pipes and illegal manipulation of the water supply, therefore assisting in the conservation of water and preventing pollution through leaking sewerage.

The app was developed by Synacor Consortium, a Kenyan company that specialises in designing and developing mobile websites, web applications and consultancy,

The company bagged the 'Open Data' category at the global hackathon; a Nokia initiative co-organised by Parsons, the New School for Design in New York.

The competition, which is part of Nokia's Helsinki World Design Capital initiatives, aims to promote new ideas for mobile application i.e. "Design and Develop for People and Planet".

Ten teams participated in the 2012 Nokia 'DoGood' Hackathon competition. AppCRAFT, from South Africa, was the only other African company to reach the finals.

Nokia East Africa General Manager, Bruce Howe, said, "We are incredibly proud of Synacor's achievement, as they rose to the challenge in developing an application that stood out on the global stage".

"The mobile content market is growing at a rapid pace and with Nokia Lumia smartphones now available locally; we will require such partnerships to build locally relevant content for our market," he added.

MajiRipoti will shortly be available to the Kenyan public as a mobile application with GPS to allow tracking, and as an SMS-based solution to mobile phones without GPS. The application is designed to run on the Windows Phone Platform.

To encourage more people to use the MajiRipoti application, the company will also introduce a game that involves giving individuals ranks depending on the number of reports they have issued and the number of solved issues they have confirmed. All the ranks earned will be published on both Facebook and Twitter.

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