Kenya-based software developers are recognised for their niche products in use not only in the region but across the globe by governments and private sector players.
Compulynx, Cellulant, KAPS,Techno Brain are among an array of local established IT companies that have made it big across borders offering solutions that spans financial, public and non-governmental sectors due to their cutting-edge tech solutions.
Although these local companies are as good as any in the global innovation stage, Kenya public sector entities and private sector players have yet to embrace them fully, and instead continue to import software for their various needs.
Compulynx founding chief executive Sailesh Savani says time has come for Kenyans to appreciate ‘Made in Kenya’ software, adding that homegrown solutions best suit Kenya’s needs.
“We understand Kenyan problems because we are part of the society. Kenya needs to reduce reliance on foreign software and open up software tenders for Kenyan companies,” he says.
Local techies aver that the government should trust them with big projects as they are capable of developing them given their experience and track record.
Mr Savani notes that the move to award Moi University and Jomo Kenyatta University for Agriculture and Technology a tender to assemble 160,000 tablets for the coming census is the way to go.
“It is right to buy hardware from foreign companies but we can assemble the same then adopt a Kenyan software,” he says.
Cellulant, founded by Kenyan Ken Njoroge and Nigerian Bolaji Akinboro, is now worth Sh10.8 billion with operations in 11 African countries — Kenya,Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Liberia, Malawi, Botswana, and Mozambique . The firm’s products are sold in 33 African countries.
The software firm brings together 94 banks and seven mobile money platforms with a combined potential customer base of 130 million.
Interestingly, while Kenya continues to grapple with subsidised fertiliser woes, the Nigerian government turned to Cellulant to build a fertiliser distribution system known as Agrikore, that has since been replicated in several other countries.
The same case applies to Compulynx. Shoppers in any Kenyan big supermarket must have received a printed receipt whose last item is ‘Software Designed and Developed by Compulynx Limited’.
The company has been serving private and public sector clients across Africa, UAE and the Middle East providing solutions such as retail technology, digital identity management, as well as fraud and loss prevention products raising its revenues to Sh800 million.
Compulynx’s Digital Identity unit, which mainly uses biometric technology, boasts a rich list of customers such as the World Food Programme (WFP), The Border Consortium (Thailand), University of Dar es Salaam, Kenya’s Equity, Family and StanChart banks, Orient Bank Uganda, and CRDB Bank Tanzania
While the Kenya government has priotised agriculture, tax collection, judiciary, land, transport and health sectors in digital transformation plan, local software companies say they have not been involved in such grand plans.
“We need to locally source for this software so as to develop capacity, generate more jobs as well as wealth. We have the best brains powering IT services in many African governments and it is time our own country appreciated what we do,” adds Mr Savani.
Real estate software
Technology firm, Meta Capital’s managing director Sila Obegi who mooted a real estate software now in use by home owners and real estate management firms, says a government job for software developers is a win-win bargain both at the national and county government level.
“Solutions abound, but no one from government is willing to engage local software developers who could be financially empowered to hire hundreds developers to man the platforms,” he says.
Techno Brain Limited was hired to launch and operate Malawi’s Digital Empowerment Scholarship Programme while its e-cargo tracking system is in use in Zimbabwe.
iHub which formulated Kenya’s Open Data Portal now in use at Huduma Centres and the e-Citizen platform where 600 different government datasets were uploaded continues to serve as an incubator for software products winning prizes across the globe.
Nailab, which secured a Sh160 million for its Tech Incubation project via the Kenya Transparency and Infrastructure Project, is behind a series of online portals, GoKibali (gokibali.com) for people seeking licences and permits for government services, (https://web.facebook.com/Utafiti.co.ke) and a web-based research aggregator that eases access of research content in different fields.
Kenya Airports Parking Services Limited (KAPS) founded by electronics engineer Eric Mwandia and his friend Galo Anzeze with operations across East Africa, manages ticketing at the world-famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve, the Jomo Kenyatta KIA, Uganda’s Makerere University and was recently awarded a contract by Uganda Police to supply Long Range Automated Number Plate Reading(ANPR) cameras.
The ANPR system will facilitate identification of errant motorists and assist in tracking down defaulters of traffic fines.
Among KAPS clients include Kenya Airports Authority, Uganda Civil Aviation Authority, Municipal Council of Mombasa, Nairobi City Council, Kampala City Council, Tanzania Airports Authority and the Rwanda Civil Aviation Authority among others.
Founded in 2009, Jambo Pay, a payments gateway, has operations across East Africa and in Senegal with plans afoot to expand across Africa.
It remains to be seen whether government entities will abide by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive to locally source for ‘built in Kenya products including software solutions.