Africa: Kenyan Start-Up Uses a Real-Life IoT Application So That Fish Farmers Know When to Feed Their Fish to Achieve Maximum Weight

Lake Victoria
23 October 2020

London — For several years IoT has been one of those annoying acronyms at conferences. In reality, it already existed in a number of M2M applications like fleet management. But actual innovation and new applications in Africa were thin on the ground, which is worrying as it forms part of the 5G business case. This week Russell Southwood talks to start-up founder Dave Okech, Aquarech about using IoT for fish farming.

The fish farmers on Lake Victoria, the second largest freshwater lake in the world, build cages and put them in the water. These cages hold the fish, which they then feed, much as you might fatten a chicken or a cow on land. The key to getting them to their best weight involves knowing: the size of the fish, the number of fish and the number of fish in the caged pond.

Okech was one of these fish farmers: "When you measure water temperature, you do it once a week manually and assume it's the same across the week. It's not. So I started thinking about how could you automate the process of reading water temperature".

The idea of IoT fitted the bill: you could use a water sensor but it needed to work at really low cost:"I wanted to use the IoT to work out the pH level and the amount of dissolved oxygen." Knowing all this information would improve productivity and lower costs, "putting money in the pockets of fish farmers."

"If you're able to access these three parameters (water temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen levels) you can feed more accurately and get better fish growth." The additional factor is using particular kind of feed: extruded, pelleted feed:"There are three specific brands that are high quality and improve yield."

"We need to get away from locally produced mash feed that sinks to the bottom. This other feed floats and tilapia is a top feeder. This way we are able to reduce costs by up to 25%."

The IoT sensor is placed in the caged pond and communicates with an app on a smartphone. It relays the water temperature three times a day and using an in-built calculator it tells the fish farmer how much feed is needed at a particular time.

Aquarech's IoT partner is Liquid Telecom. It has built out an IoT network that covers 85% of Kenya's population and is in the process of using it to understand how real-life applications can be developed.

Okech is targeting having 1,000 fish farmers on the platform by the end of 2020. So far he has been running it as a pilot with 347 fish farmers but it goes live this week. The app also operates as an e-commerce platform that allows the user to buy the special feed for the fish and it also operates as a place where fish can be sold online to buyers:"I am an aggregator of fish, enabling small farmers to supply fish to traders on the platform."

The plan is to roll out the system across Sub-Saharan Africa, with the next two countries being Tanzania and Uganda. Okech already has eyes on Asia:"We've had calls from India, Myanmar and the Phillippines." He estimates that there are 37,000 fish farmers of this kind in Kenya and a million across Sub-Saharan Africa.

In Brief

Chad and number portability: Chadian telecoms watchdog the Regulatory Authority for Electronic Communications and Post (L'Autorite de Regulation des Communications Electroniques et des Postes, ARCEP) has issued a decision to align tariffs for off-net and on-net communications. The decision - the text of which was posted to the regulator's Facebook page - requires providers to set off-net tariffs to match their on-net tariffs. Providers were also instructed to take all measures to ensure that any increase in traffic resulting from the order does not impact service quality. Meanwhile, President Idriss Deby has issued a decree ordering the implementation of number portability (NP). The decree requires ARCEP to define the terms and conditions for the portability service, and to work with providers to establish a system for porting numbers.

SSA malware threats down but have not gone away: Despite research showing an overall decrease in certain malware families and types in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in H1 2020 (36% decrease in South Africa, 26% decrease in Kenya and a 2.7% decrease in Nigeria), Kaspersky ( stresses that the human cyber threat remains rife, where Africa is not immune to the evolving techniques of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs), as well as the possibilities of being a future target of hacking-for-hire threat actor groups.

Liberia - Libtelco gets mobile licence: National regulator the Liberia Telecommunications Authority (LTA) has issued a mobile network services licence to state-owned PTO Liberia Telecommunications Corporation (LIBTELCO), allowing it to offer GSM-based services. Front Page Africa notes a statement from the LTA as saying that 'Liberians would now have a wider choice in determining the network of their convenience'.

Facebook Hits #1 Position in Mobile App Advertising Globally but Google Reigns in Africa: AppsFlyer's annual report that Google is the best platform for driving performance for app marketers in Africa, while Facebook is the best platform for remarketing across Africa and the Middle East.

Econet Group and partners to roll-out Wi-Fi hotspots: Econet, through its subsidiaries Liquid Telecom Group (LTG) and Cassava Fintech International (CFI) has recently launched a network of #SasaiWiFiFinder hotspots in Kenya, Uganda, Zambia and Rwanda, providing locals with the most affordable internet access in the region to date. This partnership unlocks the 'African Missing Network' that will accelerate sustainable economic development through digital inclusion for all Africans, the partners say. The partnership creates a Wi-Fi marketplace that helps ISPs, franchisees and digital service providers unlock new revenue streams by creating job opportunities. Backed by best-in-class broadband infrastructure, this service is enabling more people in Africa to access the digital and financial benefits of the internet.

More From: Balancing Act

Don't Miss

AllAfrica publishes around 900 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.