Leveraging Technology

Location pay is the way to go in Kenya and Uganda

Kenya and Uganda are fast becoming the gateway to East Africa with their location pay and mapping systems. Location technology not only enables you to go a step ahead of online marketing, but also helps in previewing your present location, the market rates and scenario, and indeed take you to the desired destination. A sneak peak into NikoHapa and Android applications will help us understand how location technology is on the go for Kenyans and Ugandans.

NikoHapa – the new location pay-loyalty service

The novel service called NikoHapa which means ‘I am here’ in Swahili allows the users to check in on Facebook and Twitter using their mobile phones. NikoHapa is in fact a subscription service that works as a loyalty programme helping generate money as opposed to as a mere smartphone-based location service. The features prompts you to send a text or scan a QR code found on a sticker on your receipt thereby setting it different from the smartphone-based location service.

Kenya has an estimated 26m mobile phone subscribers, which means 67 percent of the population. Majority use features phones, if not a full-fledged smartphone, and that means opening doors to umpteen possibilities of marketing and pushing offers without affecting smartphone applications.

One of the benefits include Facebook integration. And as you use a service attached with the loyalty programme you earn points that will show up on your Facebook as a way of free advertising. More usage obviously gives you an incentive, for instance, at Mambo Italia, users get a free 9-inch pizza after seven check-ins. And as part of the loyalty programme, one can always trace the customer check-ins as a feedback mechanism and quantify the monetary value.

This apart, NikoHapa also serves as an Android application, and to encourage check-ins the start-up has just launched an NFC (Near Field Communication) option, as either a card, or key ring fob.

Check-ins are be made through a cash register app that is compatible with an Android tablet or smartphone.

The Mafuta Go app

Checking-in isn’t the only way that location technology is making life easier in east Africa. An application designed by the Makere University, the Mafuta Go app shows you where the cheapest petrol station is near you and how you can get there, and thereby rescue long waits at the fuel stations which may or may not be able to cater to you – as fuel shortages are an everyday occurrence in Kampala (Uganda) – and this against the times when the petrol prices are spiralling by up to 50 percent in Uganda.

The application became so popular that the beta version released had 300 downloads the same day and the traffic led to a crash that had to be fixed soon. The application eventually bagged the prestigious Pivot East mobile app winner recognition. The $10.000 prize money the student inventors received is being put to further development.

Meka – Luganda

The mobile apps have come to the fore with comparing deals even as you go shopping. You could pull out your phone, type in the product, and you receive the details on best deals apart from giving you the distance you are to the other stores that stock the item.

As Uganda’s first retail price comparison app, Meka – Luganda that means “how much” – is slated to be launched this August as shops are already busy signing up and populating the site.

The developers of the app are working on synchronising stock prices and availability for the bigger stores.

Map tracking

The Mapping Uganda project is the brainchild of NGO Fruits of Thought. With its technology partner Mountbatten Ltd, students have been able to gather location information through bespoke smartphone apps and uploading the resulting data on OpenStreetMap.

An EasyMappr spots the position of businesses with details as their opening times, besides locating sanitation facilities and landmarks. A Geo Bucket can track the longitude and latitude of a phone as it maps the route with accuracy. The two features are about to be made handy on smartphones. The mapping system is also being deemed as a great source for aid agencies who may not know where the roads are in the rural areas.

Entrepreneurial Learning

As location technology is fast growing in Kenya and Uganda, some of the home-made brands are coming to prominence. Just think about the wonders that NikoHapa, MafutaGo, Meka Luganda and Map Tracking on Android applications can do to your business and life.

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