Can mobile phone apps be designed to help make a better world? Life Apps challenges young software developers from around the world to visit remote communities, to experience their everyday hardships and create app solutions to improve their lives – a ‘life app’.
Kenya is the hub of Africa’s high-tech boom, but it is also a country where four out of ten people live on less than $2 a day.
Muniu Kariuki is an applications developer living in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital. Together with some friends he runs Bityarn Consult, a small technology start-up.
Muniu is challenged to develop an app that can help hard-pressed subsistence farmers like William Ojwang, who runs a farm in rural Ugenya, almost 500 kilometres from Nairobi.
William is an expert on cultivating traditional African vegetables like Osuga, but he suffers from the same problems as other small-scale farmers globally. He has no modern water pumps, he cannot afford fertilisers and without proper transport he can only sell crops locally. He would like his modest farm to be more productive and sustainable and is hoping for Muniu to help him find a solution.
“Most people don’t have access to information, so it’s about mobiles to provide that – it’s accessible, it’s convenient, it can fit in your pocket and I don’t see a reason why it should not be accessible to the guys in the rural areas,” says Muniu.
Can the software developer come up with an app that will help William reach out for new business opportunities? Can he create a mobile phone app to help Kenya’s subsistence farmers in a mobile phone world?