Information and stories about technology news.

Helps Farmers
The Awareness Company develops information technology by using satellites, sensors, trackers, fusion engines and camera traps to improve and structure businesses globally. This technology can also help farmers be successful, subsequently improving food security and reducing food shortages globally.

What is Agritech?

Agritech is the use of technology while farming, most commonly to ensure proper growth and efficient profit for the farmers involved. People mostly use the umbrella term Agritech to refer to agriculture ranging from weather forecasting, photography by satellite, irrigation and heat and light control.

What is The Awareness Company?

The Awareness Company started in 2018 with co-founders Praiaash Ramadeen, Estelle Lubbe and Shazia Vawda in Johannesburg, South Africa. Upon its start, the Awareness Company produces HYDRA Intelligent Places, Smart Mining, Agriculture and Conservation for global use. Ecological employees and businesses can use the programs about local security, safety awareness, maintenance and conservation to inform and educate community members.

The Awareness Company has four projects they are working on with the help of technology to improve agriculture globally including FarmSecurity, FarmAwareness, AgriOne and AgriInsights. The programs give real-time data management about livestock location, water and soil analysis and insights for selling products that are otherwise unavailable for farmers working without Agritech. The technology can ensure a proper harvest and indicate if plants need more attention or focus.

How Agriculture and Technology Can Reduce Global Poverty

Technology can help improve food security and help farmers protect their land, animals and communities. The assistance of satellites, drones and automatic equipment can drastically change the crop yield and sustainability of a farm. The global use of this equipment will provide more food for low-income countries whose communities would benefit from the additional food without the hassle of possible future mistakes that could lead to the destruction of a farm. Reduced prices, higher crop productivity and worker safety are all important parts of building a safe and healthy environment that ensures the growth of a country regarding its food supply for citizens.

Food security is essential for stopping global poverty. With the help of technology, agriculture receives more jobs and a boost in the economy. As a result, fewer people will starve and food shortages both locally and globally will decrease. According to the USDA, positive impacts include poverty reduction, trade and export opportunities, global security and improved citizen health and health care. The help of technology can strengthen and prevent any future disasters that may arise. By alerting the farmer with the knowledge of the new technologies and introducing the machinery/software, the farmer will be able to accomplish more knowing what was unavailable before is now available for the enrichment of their work.

The Future of Agritech with The Awareness Company

The Awareness Company won Microsoft’s AgriChallenge, where Microsoft announced and invited different technology companies to show what the companies could do in August 2020. After the investment from Microsoft in December 2021, The Awareness Company’s Co-Founder and CEO Praiaash Ramadeen said “That’s why Microsoft’s support and investment in helping us as a local, homegrown business to grow and develop solutions that focus on solving real-world problems is so meaningful… we have already done in the agricultural space to promote sustainable agriculture and food security through intelligent data.”

The Awareness Company can help farmers find reliable solutions to arising problems globally through the use of technology. With 2 to 4 million small farmers in South Africa, the use of artificial intelligence can provide a helpful boost in the daily lives of both farmers and consumers.

Kyle Swingle
Photo: Flickr

Smart Cities in Latin America
According to TWI, “a smart city uses information and communication technology (ICT) to improve operational efficiency, share information with the public and provide a better quality of government service and citizen welfare.” The primary purpose of a smart city is to improve the lives of its citizens by using innovative technology “to optimize city functions and promote economic growth.” According to the Inter-American Development Bank, “a Smart City is one that places people at the center of development,” highlighting the value of smart cities in addressing issues that impact a city’s most marginalized population. In particular, smart cities in Latin America have the potential to lift the region out of poverty.

Addressing Poverty with Information and Communication Technology

In Latin America, smart cities are gaining more traction as nations look for innovative ways to address poverty and improve the lives of their citizens. Across the region, developing nations are embracing information and communication technology to address environmental concerns, improve energy efficiency and provide people with essential resources such as running water.

Investment in smart city infrastructure allows for the opportunity “to build more reliable power grids or expand the Internet” to stimulate economic growth in low-income communities. In addition, technological advancements in public transportation have the potential to create an equitable and accessible city, providing people on the periphery the opportunity to access urban centers unlike ever before. More than half of the world’s population live in cities with a projected increase to 66% by 2050. As rural communities continue to seek economic opportunities in the urban landscape, it is more important than ever for cities to implement the people-centered model of smart cities.

4 Smart Cities in Latin America

  1. Santiago, Chile: According to IESE Business School, the Chilean city of Santiago “is the smartest city in Latin America,” with initiatives in “mobility, environmental control and citizen safety.” To prevent water wastage, the city has developed a sensor data collecting method in which parks and other public green spaces undergo irrigation based on the amount of moisture necessary. The city has also implemented an advanced electric transit system.
  2. La Paz, Bolivia: This Bolivian city overcame its geographic challenges by creating an extensive cable car system to serve the population living in the steep Andean hills rising 500 meters above the city center. The cable car system has now become the main mode of public transportation in the city, allowing residents on the outskirts access to the main areas of commerce and employment.
  3. Guadalajara, Mexico: Guadalajara is the first Mexican city to receive designation as a smart city. Through the city’s Digital Creative City (DCC) initiative, Guadalajara is revitalizing its city center by emphasizing historical and cultural preservation while relying on technology to improve the city’s infrastructure and accommodate its population growth. The city is also relying on various technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and a smart grid, to provide its citizens with clean water, efficient transportation and affordable electricity. The city relies on a participatory model to engage residents in the city planning process.
  4. Montería, Colombia: Montería is one of the first Colombian cities to establish a sustainable infrastructure plan aimed at tackling extreme weather patterns and emissions. It intends to reduce emissions by declaring city-wide car-free days and improving public mobility. The city is also home to an innovation lab, which focuses on developing digital technologies and training individuals to work with these technologies. Montería is also tackling public health issues through its e-health initiatives and is installing solar panels in its public schools.

Rising Smart Cities in Latin America Alleviate Poverty

Cities throughout Latin America are alleviating poverty by integrating smart technology into their frameworks. Urban areas that focus on creating smart and connected systems of living offer numerous benefits for their people, including improving the quality of life and ensuring the sustainable application of resources. With an urbanization rate of 80% in 2017, Latin America stands as the world’s most urbanized region, which means there is ample opportunity for smart city implementation.

Jennifer Hendricks
Photo: Flickr

Technology in South Sudan
South Sudan is a small country in northeastern Africa that achieved independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s newest country. Following its independence, a civil war broke out between the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Since the resolution of the conflict in 2018, South Sudan has been working hard to improve technology within its information and communication systems in order to revitalize its economy, advance foreign relations and expand networks to all citizens in South Sudan.

The Need for Technology

Information and communication technology (ICT) is a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” ICT includes any mechanism which facilitates communication and the transfer of information including the internet, computers, cellular devices, radio and television. From education and health care to business, the development of ICT has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of modern society.

In South Sudan, nearly 80% of the population resides in rural areas with extremely limited access to the internet or mobile services. In 2021, only 8% of South Sudan had internet access, severely limiting the population’s access to the global market as well as valuable international and regional information.

Prior to COVID-19, South Sudan had been experiencing economic growth with a 9.5% GDP between 2019 and 2020. While much of the world transitioned to virtual methods of business and communication as the pandemic progressed, the lack of technology in South Sudan’s rural areas resulted in most of the country experiencing isolation from the world. Without sufficient ICT outside of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, rural populations lost access to even more valuable resources.

The Development of ICT in South Sudan

Despite the obstacles of the pandemic, the development of technology in South Sudan is still underway. In the past, the only way to access the internet was through very expensive satellite-based and mobile phone providers. However, the country has been working since 2018 to lower the price of communication by extending its fiber-optics infrastructure. As a land-locked nation, the quickest way for South Sudan to do that was to negotiate plans to tap into the existing fiber-optic networks of Uganda and Sudan.

Since its onset, the project has seen great success. Between 2020 and 2021, the percentage of internet users in South Sudan rose by 1.5%, and the number of people with mobile connections increased by 17%. In July 2021, President Salva Kir proudly inaugurated the first-ever South Sudanese-owned mobile telecom company, an operation that intends to expand ICT services to citizens in rural areas while simultaneously boosting the economy. 

Looking Ahead

While there is still room for progress, South Sudan continues to show resilience in the face of COVID-19. A large majority of the country still lacks access to ICT and each new broadband network connects those who experienced isolation. There is great potential for the continued development of information and communication technology in South Sudan in the future.

Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Finland’s Tech Workers
The electronics and technology development industry is one of the largest employers of the Finnish workforce. Finland’s tech workers are fighting for higher wages and in December 2021, they got their guaranteed wage increase after threatening a strike.

The Importance of Finland’s Tech Industry

Finland’s tech industry is the country’s largest and most profitable export industry. It also has the biggest workforce for Finland too. The information and technology sector alone employs 6.8% of the workforce, making it the largest tech industry in the European Union. Directly and indirectly, up to 27% of Finland’s workers receive their income from the tech industry.

Finland’s tech industry also brings in €18 billion in taxes and earns €5 billion annually in investments for private and public technology companies. In 2020, the lowest amount that the tech industry earned, which was in the consulting sector, was €5 billion. The highest amount earned and contributed to the Finnish economy was €33 billion from the mechanical engineering sector.

Production and work in Finland’s tech industry slowed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the unemployment rate in 2020 peaked at just above 11.2% but has since declined and dropped to 9%. As the tech workers have realized their importance, they have begun a fight for better wages to increase their pay and move away from being at risk of poverty.

A Finnish Tech Worker’s Need for Higher Wages

Finland’s tech industry workers earn around €3,900 per month. The starting salary is approximately €3,000 in the tech industry, with a slightly higher starting pay for those who graduate with a degree relating to the tech industry in any way. The lowest-paid industry workers in Finland are data professionals.

The cost of living has been rising dramatically in Finland since 2015. Making Finland an often expensive place to live, Finland’s tech workers feel their wages should increase as well to accommodate the rising costs. Finland’s tech industry employees felt their employers undervalued their work and as a result, felt underpaid. Salaries began to slowly rise in 2018, but the increase in wages has not kept pace with rising prices and the necessity for increased wages in 2021 and 2022. The need for higher salaries has caused Finland’s tech industry workers to formally organize a potential 10-day strike to force their employers to provide raises.

Impacts of the Workers’ Victory

At the end of 2021, more than 40,000 Finnish tech workers agreed to a formal strike if they were not assured of a “significant” increase in wages. The Finnish Industrial Union, which covers the tech industry workers, promised the strike and announced the withdrawal of the formal strike within a week.

According to Yle, the agreement reached includes an increase of 2% across the union for all workers. The union covers 90,000 workers at least. The increase must be agreed to by the end of November 2022 and swiftly enacted before 2023.

When Finland’s tech industry workers have fought for wage increases in the past, they have almost always won. Their victories have led workers in other business sectors to push for their wage increases with similar successes.

The service sector is one of the more underpaid sectors in Finland, with the industry workers earning between a third and a half of the average salary that workers in the tech industry do. The significant gap in wages and the victory for Finland’s tech industry workers could lead other groups to push for increased wages so that they can keep pace with rising prices and the costs of the standard of living. Finland’s tech industry workers started a movement for higher wages and more strikes are bound to take place in the coming months.

As long as more Finnish workers begin fighting for higher wages, the poverty and at-risk-of-poverty rates can drop. Increased wages across industries can increase general demand for services and goods and generate economic growth nationwide.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Computers Can Reduce Learning Poverty
The World Bank has predicted that 70% of children in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) could face learning poverty because of COVID-19. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many children without access to technology were already at an educational disadvantage. The surge in digital learning during COVID-19 made educational inequalities worse. Computers can reduce learning poverty when children in low-income communities receive them. Also, access to computers helps children develop the skills they need to succeed in school and beyond.

The “Homework Gap”

Even if students access technology during school, a lack of access outside of school hinders many. Students may be at an additional disadvantage if they live in areas without libraries, churches or other community organizations. These places often have computers that students use. Without a personal computer or a local public facility that offers one, students may have difficulties studying and completing homework and assignments.

Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by bridging the gap between students who can readily complete homework and those who cannot. As digital learning becomes increasingly popular, unequal access to digital learning tools becomes a more urgent problem to address.

COVID-19’s Devastation on Technological Learning Gaps

Technological learning gaps became more damaging during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some schools taught classes online. However, others had to shut down completely due to a lack of resources and funding. The World Bank found that some schools in LMICs have been closed for up to 250 days since the pandemic began. Some are unable to reopen. As a result, hundreds of millions of children around the world have lost a full year or more of schooling.

Girls in low-income communities are at a heightened disadvantage because school closures can perpetuate inequality and poverty. Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by giving children and teachers the opportunity to continue their courses online, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the World Bank, studies in Brazil, South Africa and India concur that a month of school closure translates into a month of learning loss. These learning losses then translate into a 10% lifetime earning loss for children in countries where school closures are long.

Camara Education

Camara Education is a charity that provides computers, learning programs and teacher training to schools in Africa. The charity, founded in Ireland in 2005, receives donations of computer equipment from companies that no longer need them. Camara works with specialist partners to wipe the technology and remarket it. This raises money for refurbished computers. Then, the charity sends the refurbished computers to schools in Africa. “Hubs” of Camara staff in Africa help schools install the computer equipment and download software. These hubs also train teachers on the technology. Overall, Camara has provided more than 3.7 million children with computer access since 2005.

Camara as a Model for Decreasing Learning Poverty

Access to computers can reduce learning poverty by closing the “homework gap.” Technology allows children to continue their education online until COVID-19 no longer poses health risks for in-person attendance. Organizations like Camara Education are working to help provide low-income students with the technological resources necessary to escape learning poverty. As the pandemic continues to close schools and forces educators to teach online, millions more children could benefit from access to digital learning resources.

– Cleo Hudson
Photo: Flickr

Geospatial Mapping
Without the help of development agencies, peacekeepers may always have to participate in the never-ending cycle of peacekeeping. With 50% of the world’s poor projected to live in counties where violence casts its constant shadow, peacekeeping efforts can only stand to scale, but at what cost, and to what end? Fortunately, technological advancements, such as geospatial mapping, can allow peacekeepers to help expand options for development agencies that danger constantly repels.

Accessibility to Hostile Territory

Lack of security defines development agencies’ diminishing hopes of lasting presence, demanding the perpetual presence of peacekeepers. Development projects thus deal with constant mission suspensions, limits on the number of authorized personnel and the inability to conduct crucial work. A review of relief operations in Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria have recorded a multitude of resources in safer areas that are not in need due to reluctance to transgress into “red zones.”

Access limitations are not a characteristic of peacekeeping efforts for obvious reasons. Without development agencies in the arena of conflict, peacekeepers merely provide greater tolerance for conflict since development is not within their capacity, serving to encourage scaling conflict which exposes more poor people to violence.

The World Bank’s Geo-Enabling for Monitoring and Supervision Initiative (GEMS)

The World Bank’s Geo-Enabling for Monitoring and Supervision initiative (GEMS) facilitates for government agencies the ability to use tech innovations such as KoBoToolbox, an open-source data collection software that the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative developed, to amass data and analysis in states defined, at least in part, by conflict to improve monitoring and evaluation. Government representatives and partner organizations receive training to develop and mete out a platform for data collection that usually takes place during field visits and undergoes acquisition with the assistance of mobile devices and can cover any topic relevant to the goals of a project. Such a process helps developers monitor a project’s progress while maintaining safety.

How Geospatial Mapping Tools for Peacekeepers Works

Geospatial mapping tools for peacekeepers serve the relevant function of sharing categorized data regarding violence and insecurity to apprise development experts. These sorts of data collection efforts include identifying the number, type and intensity of violent occurrences in conflicted areas where peacekeepers often work.

Security maps in conjunction with poverty can provide development agencies the ability to develop access strategies for projects that specialize in the delivery of commodities to the poor who are in conflict. Because security administration is a public service, data that peacekeepers amass can help governments measure the degree of necessity regarding providing accountable and effective security services. Allowing peacekeepers of the U.N. the capability of strengthening their data-gathering capabilities aid the U.N. in determining its efficacy regarding deployments.

U.N. peacekeepers have made progress regarding the protection of civilians policy (POC) in recent years. Notwithstanding, peacekeepers will linger in a state of perpetual peacekeeping if systems that can monitor and evaluate progress fail to undergo initiation. These maps, which initiatives like GEMS are implementing, provide an advantage for peacemaking and development efforts.

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Rawpixel

disease response in the DRC
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) “has the third-largest population of [impoverished people] globally.” The coronavirus has hit the DRC’s economy hard, further reducing the country’s capacity to fight disease. One advancement in disease response in the DRC is the government’s use of mobile phone data for population mapping, which helps create public health policies for COVID-19 and could do the same for other prevalent diseases in the country in the future.

Ties Between Disease, War, Poverty and COVID-19 in the DRC

The DRC has historically faced challenges in combatting cholera, malaria, HIV, measles, Ebola and Rift Valley fever. Factors contributing to the challenges in combatting disease include a weak health care system, low laboratory capacity, a lack of plans regarding border lockdowns for disease containment and a lack of information about vaccination and disease prevention for the public.

Additionally, the DRC endured a civil war from 1997 to 2003. The civil war ravaged the country’s infrastructure and the ongoing political instability in the country currently poses obstacles for aid workers to safely enter the country. The effects of the civil war also reduce the government’s ability to fight prevalent diseases in the DRC.

Furthermore, in 2019, the DRC’s economic growth stood at 4.4%. After the COVID-19 pandemic began, the DRC’s economic growth shrank to 0.8% in 2020. The slowdown in economic growth has made it even more difficult for improved disease response in the DRC.

Using Mobile Phones to Combat COVID-19

Low-income countries, including the DRC, struggle with data collection. However, data collection is vital in order to provide government officials with information to make sound public health decisions. The good news is that the DRC is starting to utilize mobile phone data for population mapping to combat COVID-19, which could greatly improve the DRC’s response to other diseases as well.

Orange DRC, a telecommunications company, provides anonymized mobile phone data to a marketing company called Kinshasa Digital. Using the phone data, Kinshasa Digital is constructing a dashboard for the DRC so that health officials can follow population movement after implementing various public health policies. The dashboard is useful because it allows the government to follow the spread of COVID-19 and use this data to create policies that will be most beneficial for the public’s health.

Data-Informed Responses

In addition, Vodacom DRC, a mobile carrier, and Flowminder, a company that analyzes mobile data, have created a report utilizing call detail records that analyzes how population movement patterns in Kinshasa’s Gombe district have changed in response to the DRC’s COVID-19 confinement policies. The report indicates “a drop of 70% in the total flow of subscribers traveling to Gombe after the confinement,” which shows that many people are complying with the government’s policies.

The creators shared the report with government officials. Reports like these can help the government measure how effective its public health policies are. As the technology and analytics industries develop, these reports can further improve the government’s response to COVID-19 and possibly other diseases too.

The DRC faces challenges in disease response, but the current innovation with mobile phone data to create more effective COVID-19 policies shows a promising development. As mobile phone companies, analytics companies and the government continue to work together, disease response in the DRC as a whole could greatly improve.

– Anna Ryu
Photo: Unsplash

Energy Security in Armenia
Energy security in Armenia is a serious problem; the country experienced harshly cold and dark years in the early 1990s. It was a time when the newly independent Republic of Armenia experienced an incredibly severe energy shortage. The population only had access to electricity two hours a day, and even hospitals went without heat. The lack of internal energy sources, regional conflict in the Caucuses and the collapse of the Soviet Union contributed to the crisis. Though the country recovered, it has never forgotten the importance of energy security in Armenia.

Post-Energy Crisis Armenia

Today, Armenia depends on the external energy sources it imports from other nations. Having no known internal oil or natural gas sources of its own, these imports satisfy 75% of the country’s energy demand. In 2019, Armenia had a total natural gas energy supply of 89,423 terajoules, a nuclear energy supply of 26,967 TJ and a hydroelectric supply of 8,535 TJ.

Armenia sources its oil from Iran, Georgia, Europe and Russia. The natural gas largely comes from Russia via Georgia. The company Gazprom Armenia holds a monopoly on the imports and distribution of natural gas in Armenia. Gazprom Armenia is a subsidiary of the state-owned Russian gas giant Gazprom, the largest natural gas company in the world.

Because of its heavy dependence on imports and Gazprom Armenia’s monopoly, Armenia experiences price shocks that drive up the cost of energy for its population of nearly 3 million people. This dependence also puts Armenia in a weak position during price negotiations with Gazprom. When the government and the company cannot come to an agreement, it is the people who go without heat and power. The government-owned Metsamor nuclear power plant generates electricity within Armenia. However, Russia is also the country’s main supplier of nuclear fuel, so Armenia is still dependent on Russia.

Lighting the Way to Energy Security

Armenia is focusing on building and improving renewable energy infrastructure to achieve greater energy efficiency and energy security in Armenia. In January 2021, the government implemented the 20-year Energy Sector Development Program intended to boost energy efficiency and diversify the fossil-fuel-dominated power grid.

Additionally, in 2022, the government plans to implement amendments associated with the 2017 Law on Energy. This should liberalize the energy market, which in turn will increase competition between electrical suppliers. Ideally, it will break the monopoly held by Electric Networks of Armenia. The company currently has full control over the nation’s electrical distribution driving up prices for consumers.

With a solar energy flow of 1,720 kilowatt-hours per square meter, Armenia has a higher solar energy potential than most countries. To optimize this, the Armenian government wants to focus on the construction of new solar plants. By 2030, the goal is for solar power generation to have a minimum 15% share of the country’s capacity, at 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours. To achieve its desired level of energy security in Armenia, however, the government also recognizes the need to improve its use of geothermal energy. The country has a 150-megawatt potential regarding geothermal energy, only a fraction of which it is tapping into.

Other Players

The government is not the only one taking action to strengthen energy security in Armenia. In 2017, Shen NGO and the Geghamasar cooperative constructed a greenhouse and a biogas facility. These have been producing food and heat respectively for the community of Geghamasar during each winter since. They manufacture the biogas from manure, and when they are not heating the greenhouse, the biogas facility generates electricity. Both it and the greenhouse created jobs in Geghamasar in addition to inspiring other communities to build similar installations.

Power to the People

As of 2019, 12.3% of Armenians lived on less than $5.50 a day. Many cannot afford the current cost of energy, much less the rises in prices imposed by monopolies. Those who cannot pay go without heat and power because there is no alternative source of energy they can rely on. Energy security in Armenia is a necessity to consistently meet the needs of the people. However, thankfully, the country is working on becoming less dependent on external energy resources and diversifying its energy grid.

– Nate Ritchie
Photo: Flickr

Smart Meter Systems in Kenya
In September 2021, Kenya’s largest telecommunications business, Safaricom, proposed a deal to Kenya Power to install “a $300 million smart meter system” at Kenya Power’s site. Furthermore, Safaricom will bear the cost of installing “330,000 consumer, transformer and feeder smart meters” in communities experiencing high power leakages or electricity theft. These leaks put an added economic burden on individuals and Kenya Power. Safaricom and Kenya Power’s partnership to install smart meter systems in Kenya will also lead to more job opportunities for Kenyans.

Power Leakages and Electricity Theft

Power leakages can occur when a current is not entirely insulated or the electrical equipment is not fully grounded, meaning there may be no safe way to discharge electricity in case of a malfunction. The energy needs somewhere to go and grounding sends electricity outside the building and into the ground through the insulated wiring. This lost energy costs Kenya Power revenue that often exceeds what the company earns. Safaricom anticipates that the new smart meter system will save Kenya Power more than $89 million of losses due to power leakages.

Kenya Power is the primary company in Kenya responsible for producing and distributing electricity to Kenyans across the country. Kenya Power holds the responsibility of delivering electricity to almost 70% of Kenyans with electricity access, however, this figure means more than 16 million Kenyans still lack electricity access.

Electricity theft is a common occurrence in Kenya. It happens when a person attempts to bypass the standard electrical meter on a power line in order to obtain electricity without payment. Thieves then bypass any electrical data tracking and effectively steal power from the company and the homes in the area. Annually, Kenya Power loses about $163 million due to electricity theft alone. Safaricom’s smart meter systems in Kenya will help prevent both leakages and electricity theft.

Smart Meter Systems Save Money

Smart meters involve real-time information of voltage usage and fault reports and detect theft and potential meter tampering. In the event of power theft, the meter sends alerts to the main computer in its system, and then, the company will have the option of shutting down the power line and sending the police to apprehend the thief.

The smart meters constantly monitor two wires, the neutral wire and the live wire and the current going through the wires. Smart meters continuously compare the two wires’ energy outputs. If the output of the live wire seems excessively high while the neutral is lower, then, there may be possible tampering or leakage.

The smart meter systems in Kenya will cost approximately $300 million to install. Safaricom and Kenya Power will split the revenue earned in the first eight years with the smart meters in place.

Creating Job Opportunities

Smart meters in Kenya seem to be a small addition to everyday lives, but their financial impact is significant. Kenya Power is a relatively small enterprise in the nation. The expected revenue to come in with the installation of the smart meters in Kenya is 71.7 billion KES ($651.23 million). This has the potential to increase earnings company-wide across all salary levels. Furthermore, the project will create job opportunities for Kenyans.

How Will the Initiative Help Kenyans?

In Kenya, the cost of electricity increased in September 2021. Those with access to electricity began paying 26.57 KES (0.25 USD) per electricity unit. The last monthly pricing was 2 KES less, making this spike in cost “the highest in five years.” This price hiking has continued as Kenya Power grapples with issues of power leakages and electricity theft.

The average annual salary after taxes in Kenya based on the average job is about 2,026,995 KES ($18,536). However, the more typical salary is 765,481 KES ($7,000). Furthermore, 26.3% of workers in Kenya survive on less than $2 of income per day. If the electricity prices continue increasing, many Kenyans will lose their ability to afford electricity and first-time users will struggle to gain access to electricity.

The introduction of smart meter systems will prevent severe revenue losses for Kenya Power. The smart meters in Kenya will benefit Kenya Power, Safaricom, workers and ordinary citizens. Preventing energy theft offers economic benefits for energy companies and workers, but it can also benefit energy consumers. Large-scale changes in security and energy efficiency could strengthen Kenya’s energy sector and infrastructure.

– Clara Mulvihill
Photo: Flickr

Trimble MX7
Natural disasters are detrimental to impoverished regions, and countries like Colombia, where approximately 36% of its population subsists in poverty are no exception. Recent efforts from the World Bank’s Global Program for Resilient Housing have led to the genesis of a Trimble MX7 vehicle-mounted mobile-mapping system that can improve responses to natural disasters in Colombia.

Poverty-Natural Disaster Nexus in Colombia

Colombia has experienced six major earthquakes, four volcanic eruptions, annual major landslides and recurrent extensive flooding in the past 30 years, stunting sustainable development efforts. According to historical records, inadequate land use management and insufficient housing standards account for 80% and 20% of damage and loss, respectively. Impoverished communities lack choice mobility and circumstances force them to settle in areas that are vulnerable to extreme weather. Farming and agriculture, common occupations among working-class people, also lie bare in the face of natural disaster, and above all, such people receive less government and community support for poverty than their wealthier counterparts.

Trimble MX7

The World Bank’s Global Program for Resilient Housing (GPRH) has employed a potential game-changer for natural disaster confrontation and poverty reduction in Bogota, potentially aiding the 27.5% of Colombia’s population that live in monetary poverty. Machine learning algorithms are useful for scanning images that a Trimble MX7 vehicle-mounted mobile-mapping system captures aerially and terrestrially of infrastructure and urban areas that would suffer the most in the event of a natural disaster. The GRPH conceived the idea to capture imagery to detect infrastructure weaknesses and vulnerabilities due to concerns about “soft story” buildings — structures with windows, wide doors and other openings that cannot withstand earthquakes. The “soft story” risk played out on September 19, 2017, when a 7.1 magnitude earthquake struck Mexico, taking 40 buildings from their foundations, one of which was the Enrique Rebsamen school where seven adults died along with 19 children.

The Role of Policy

Policy gets to structure the usage of innovation such as Trimble MX7 to preclude preventable damage from natural disasters. Fortunately, Colombia’s government has recognized this in its National Development Plan and the Ministry of Finance and Public Credit’s (MHCP) Strategic plan, where the latter must develop strategies to reduce liabilities and regulate fiscal risk. The MHCP has identified three policy goals to solidify fiscal risk and give rise to and support a better economy: identification and understanding of financial risk due to disasters, financial management of natural disaster risk and catastrophe risk insurance for public assets.


Natural disasters are a serious concern in Colombia, with the country’s impoverished communities suffering the most from the aftermath. The Trimble MX7 is a promising new technology that will save lives and prevent people from falling into extreme poverty in the wake of natural disasters.

– Mohamed Makalou
Photo: Flickr