Social challenges vs Innovative solutions in Tanzania


Coin based water vending machine

The Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF) –Tanzania, has once again organized the Innovation week from 21st– 26th May. In 2017, HDIF collaborated with 16 partners to make the innovation week a success. The week attracted over 1000 people. This year, HDIF together with 24 partners have managed to organize this trending week on innovation in research, development, entrepreneurship, technology and design. Areas of focus being health, education, and water/sanitation/hygiene.

Innovation is booming, Tanzanians are engaging themselves more and more into the innovation culture. The thirsty and curiosity for solving societal challenges is growing very fast.

http://www.hdif-tz.org/innovation-week/

Planned for all, designed for a few?

Social challenges are most of the time common to everyone living in a particular area. The diversion starts when solutions are targeting only a certain group of people. It is obvious that innovators do think of everyone as a whole when thinking of solving challenges. At some point the thinking starst to change and the outcome ends up targeting only a certain group of people.

Most innovators are young and it is natural that they will be thinking about people of their level when thinking of innovative solutions. I see this as a limitation to development. Innovators need to invest more time in designing solutions that would benefit people from different levels of life. We still have many years to go before each person in a developing country like Tanzania will own a smartphone and will have good access to a speedy internet connection, to enjoy all the benefits and solutions that come with it. Let us not forget the seniors who never got the chance to get basic education, or the educated and retired officers who are ageing and their brains are for sure getting tired. Even if you would give them a free smartphone today, using it and connecting to the internet to enjoy the benefits of having it is almost impossible.

Innovating while thinking of people from different levels of life, will not only increase equal distribution of solutions but it will also increase customers and hence growth to a company.

MAJI-Pesa

During the HDIF innovation week, I was inspired by many innovative solutions but I will tell about this particular one that is actually directly targeting the people I am talking about above.

Coin based water vending machine

MAJI-Pesa It is a coin based water vending machine. Developed by STICLab –The House of Innovation, a technology and innovation center. The solution is now in many parts of Tanzania including Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Dodoma, Geita etc.

Apart from being a coin based water vending machine, MAJIPesa is equipped with IoT facilities that offers remote monitoring through a state of the art Web platform and a mobile App. If offers a room of generating reports, with an option of daily notifications via sms or emails. The system is a solar based, tailored to provide service 24/7 with self diagnosis capabilities.

Erick B Paul, UFUNDIKO – Ngutoto Water Project:

“We have had a lot of water projects in a lot of villages along Dodoma, but most of them died as there has been no Data on sales vs water produced or any occurring problems. MAJIPesa has helped us a big deal as we have all the information right at the fingertip. I recommend the MAJIPesa not only for rural projects but also urban water project.”

Baba Pop – MAJIPesa Client, Mbagala Dar:

“MAJIPesa has changed my business, am now collecting enough money with no hassle.”

Kelvin Abel – MAJIPesa user, Mbagala:

“MAJIPesa has made things easy as I can get water 24/7 with no worries, with just a coin and a bucket am all set.”

Saidi –  MAJIPesa user, Ngutoto:

“Am privileged and humbled to use a system innovated, designed and manufactured by Tanzanians for Tanzanians. This system is a way through sustainable water projects along Tanzania and Africa as a whole.”

 

STICLab was awarded a Global Negawatt Challenge Winner on 2015, at Barcelona -Spain where they competed with this wonderful innovation, MAJIPesa.

 

During the HDIF innovation week 2018, I met one of the co-founders of the STICLab Eng. Sanga Valerian Linus. He is also one of the engineers behind this innovation.

 

According to Eng. Sanga, sales have been increasing. A total number of 55 machines have been installed and they are still receiving more orders. The feedback from customers is also very positive.

Emma Nkonoki
Senior project specialist at Aalto University, New Global Project
Project researcher at the University of Turku, Tanzania team.