One of the many challenges we experience as human beings is impending water shortages. The situation in Cape Town, South Africa is a reflection of how climate change is affecting the world. Libya, Western Sahara, Yemen, Djibouti and Jordan are primary models of countries experiencing water shortages on a vast level.
In Kenya, the situation is no different. Water shortage continues to affect many counties with many going without the precious resource. Mobi-Water, a remote, real-time water level monitoring solution is making its mark in addressing this climate challenge. The innovative device allows users to monitor water levels in tanks/ reservoirs in any location using a mobile phone and warns them when water levels are low.
MobiTech Water Solutions was founded by Kelvin Gacheru, a water engineer in July 2016. In 2016/2017 the company emerged as the 1st runners up in the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation competition. He was awarded by the Royal Academy of Engineering awarded with a cash prize and an opportunity to be incubated. The one-year mentorship he received, aided him in advancing his device prototype, he got business development services such as further segmenting his target market.
Mobi-Water mainly targets three optimal divisions, that is institutional and NGO funded projects, commercial enterprises such as malls, and residential homes. They are currently running a community water project initiated by VIA Water to have 100 installations done in various water points in Kibera slum. The research they conducted on the region set it as a prime location for the installations. Kibera slum experiences acute water shortages and constant water rationing. In addition, cartels on the ground control the available water which significantly reduces the residents’ access to the resource.
By installing Mobi-Water, the residents will be able to experience improved consistency in water supply by increasing the number of days they receive water from two to three days. They will be able to manage their water more efficiently by monitoring their water levels. This will also assist in improving the water distribution channels. So far they have completed 10 installations which adds to 20 previous installations. They have a three-month baseline and are projecting to have completed the installations between April and May.
“With any new product, it is challenging to penetrate a new market. Mobi-Water being a new technological concept faced some hurdles in explaining how exactly it operates and how it was a benefit to the community. It was more difficult to sell the idea to rural folk. In addition, the cost of procuring a device was a challenge to this target group, despite them needing it. It took a lot of patience in the initial stages,” outlines Kevin.
Mobi-Water is currently in the incubation programme at Kenya Climate Innovation Centre. They have been able to access training sessions and benefit from networking forums. They are working on being fully commercial in the near future. Some of their expansion plans include having dash boards that will allow them to monitor users especially those with multiple tanks. They are planning on having 500 systems installed by the end of the year and 1,500 by the year 2019.
By Michelle Mung’ata