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Kenyan tech firms’ response to COVID 19 pandemic and how computing power is our new norm

Linda App, Zero Contact Food Distribution App are among the tech innovations in the Kenyan market as the country continues to register a proactive technological response to the Coronavirus epidemic and its ripple effects in the local socio-economic base.

During the month of April, the threat to basic components of livelihoods prompted a number of tech companies to initiate what they have fronted as substantive tools that would spur the achievement of better results while adhering to the globally set behavioural guidelines in the war against COVID 19.

Zero Contact Food Distribution App

On April 27, Tribus TSG, a subsidiary of Centum Investment, launched a zero contact distribution phone application in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Zero Contact Food Distribution application designed and developed entirely by Young Africa Works initiative under Tribus TSG in partnership with Mastercard Foundation. The app is expected to stream new energy to the skyrocketing demand for food relief with government-imposed lockdowns and restrictions to control the spread of the virus.

“We realized that the traditional paper vouchers, gift cards or large-crowd distribution process wouldn’t work in a COVID-19 environment. Large crowds increase the risk of the virus spreading and paper poses the risk of cross-contamination. There was a clear need for a contactless distribution flow. We wanted to create an application that is easy to use, safer for the environment and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Catherine Aurellia Otieno, one of the lead developers of the application through a statement to the media by Centum Investment.

The Zero Contact Food Distribution application is powered by a USSD process so that users do not require access to smartphone technology. A unique SMS is generated and sent to the end-user once the organization assigns a collection point. The end-user is then free to collect the food parcels using their unique verification code. This chain allows for the safe, controlled distribution and full data capturing process instead of using QR codes or gift vouchers, which can be potentially copied if they are not appropriately implemented. The application uses a data chain process that connects the provider and user in a secure and verified manner.

A food donor (a government agency, organizations or charity bodies) who want to carry out a food or distribution program are required to visit the application’s dashboard and generate the list of individuals they have identified to be in need. They then have to upload identifying numbers like Telephone or ID numbers they are using in their program into the distribution management system and assign collection points, whether it’s large scale supermarkets, small scale kiosks, or mobile time pickup points for those in remote areas.

Linda App

Three Kenyan local firms joined efforts under the Linda Initiative to develop a COVID 19 contact tracing application in a bid to help flatten the curve.

The Linda App relies on government data on Coronavirus to detect the COVID 19 patients’ contacts so that Kenyans can always be alerted to keep distance if they come into contact with one. Besides, health experts on the app have the capacity of tracing persons who have come into contact with a suspected case of Coronavirus. The Bluetooth supported technology warns users on the possibility of an existing case that has tested positive of COVID-19 within a 100 metres radius without giving out the identity of individuals or their existing location.

linda app
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The application has an award model to reward persons for observing social distancing measures. The Linda App competitions are aimed at maximizing the effectiveness of stay at home directives.

Read Also: 2 Kenyan Firms Receive World Economic Forum Recognition

“If you stay home for seven days, you stand a chance to win prizes such as data bundles for the younger generation or but we are also building rewards such as shopping vouchers,” Bob Ndumbi, the lead partner in the initiative told Capital FM in an interview with the radio station.  Mr Ndumbi is Silverhouse Capital Limited’s Managing Partner. The other two firms are E & M Investments Limited and Segue Interactive Limited (SI).

By the time of publishing this article however, the Linda App was not yet on Google Playstore and App Store pending other legal considerations.

“Every once in a while, a new technology, an old problem, and a big idea turn into an innovation,”

Dean Kamen.

About Aduma Mutiva

I'm keen on digital media evolution and its effect on business models. I let the ink speak much. A music lover. Reach me on aduma@update.co.ke

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