To address Africa’s water problem, tech startups like HydroIQ are stepping in to digitize the water accessibility and billing system for consumers.
According to the U.N., two-thirds of the world’s population could be living in water-stressed conditions by 2025, and the majority of these people will be in sub-Saharan Africa. The African region already faces constant problems due to the scarcity of water that sometimes never reaches the consumers.
In Africa, as much as 50 percent of the water supplied by utilities is lost before actually reaching the consumer, all because of an inefficient and poorly managed distribution network. Additionally, the cost burden of water losses is borne by the consumers, making the whole experience expensive and troublesome.
To address Africa’s water problem, HydroIQ intends on making water more accessible to the people of Africa through technology. Powered by three major technologies, the Kenya-based water-monitoring startup relies on the internet of things, data analytics and payment automation.
Named the top African startup of 2018 by Startup.Info, HydroIQ is also the world’s first virtual water network operator. The company was founded by two entrepreneurs, Brian Bosire and Victor Shikoli, who are determined to revolutionize the access and distribution of water in Africa.
HydroIQ works by using a smart metering device that, when plugged into the existing water supply network, can turn the traditional water system into a smart water grid. It can be installed in households to track consumption in real-time. In this way, consumers only pay for what they use. The payment for the consumption is also digitized and made easy – its pay-as-you-go basis is powered using mobile money. Additional benefits allow consumers to receive notifications when the water is running low. The real-time leak detection also sends alerts for early detection and prompt action.
According to sources, as much as 45 percent of revenue is lost due to lack of infrastructure and poor bill payment systems. With HydroIQ, such barriers can be overcome and consumers can pay with the most preferred mode of payment, mobile money. The company has partnered with local water utilities to address the issue of water access across Africa.
Innovative tech startups can help Africa achieve sustainable development and efficient water management across cities. Globally, Africa is urbanizing at a very fast pace and fixing the water problem is becoming increasingly important. According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return between $3 and $34.
The startup intends on solving Africa’s water problem by making its business model sustainable, scalable and adaptable through the use of digital technologies. By focusing on providing African consumers the ease and convenience to pay for what they use, the digitized process will further reduce the upfront costs for the consumers, delivering a high standard value to its customers.
In 2018, HydroIQ will install meters in 1,500 households and intends on expanding and developing market insights to cater to the consumers’ needs. With a goal of reaching 34,000 homes by 2019, it aims to grow over 300,000 in the next five years.
As more and more tech startups step forward to address crucial issues like Africa’s water problem and the region’s credit access problems, it is not surprising that a combination of innovation and investment may soon bring a positive change to the daily lives of consumers.
– Deena Zaidi