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Technology

Tech-savvy Kenyan cashes in on developing mobile apps

James Wahome
James Wahome, the lead developer at software products development firm, Ujuzi Code. PHOTO | COURTESY 

James Wahome, the lead developer at software products development firm, Ujuzi Code, was always keen on innovation through computers. He joined Jomo Kenyatta University of Science and Technology for an undergraduate Mathematics and Computer Science degree course and later proceeded to Strathmore University for a master’s degree in mobile telecommunications and innovation.

Mr Wahome says his lecturers supported him to found Ujuzi Code together with Fabian Muthusi and two others that have since left.

Then attention revolved around M-Pesa and Ujuzi Code concentrated on developing products that could be integrated with M-Pesa.

“We made Pesabox, a free online App that helped people track their M-Pesa transactions followed by an SMS backup App and an SMS Wipeout App. We realised mobile Apps were popular and approached a local entrepreneur who funded our first mobile software product, a customisable Sales Force Automation (SFA),” he recalls.

The SFA product keeps clients’ data within a company’s reach as opposed to the manual register that a salesman walks around with. In case the salesman quits a company loses contacts with their clients and have to physically move around re-establishing contacts.

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The product has since been upgraded to include a realtime payment platform embedded in a digital receipt printer that a salesman carried together with a tamperproof rugged SFA phone that a company salesman uses during his travel across Kenya.

“This remains our property that we can disable when a company informs us of an employee’s desertion. Salemen no longer use books but key in everything and must be on location when making orders since the information reflects realtime on their employer’s portal,” he adds.

As the firm’s clientele grew, Mr Wahome discovered university trained graduates needed further training to fit and meet the needs of the job market. He says universities must urgently monitor developments in the tech space and amend their curriculum accordingly.

“But even for the qualified developers we find, CVs do not excite us until we talk to their last employer, I need to know about their last project and talk to their last client. Did the developer deliver it on time and to a client’s satisfaction?” he poses.

He says work ethics are key to any successful placement since software developers work at odd hours for global clients whose only goal is to have their work done regardless of where they sit when doing the job.

Ujuzi Code has also ventured in creation of corporate text-based premium services that it manages for various state agencies such as the National Constituencies Development Fund.

Ujuzi Code which made Sh6 million in 2017 was behind the Tumapesa App where a sender confirmed identity of recipient before sending that attracted over 500,000 downloads.

Their premium text-based services have enjoyed increased uptake by corporate entities, betting and gaming firms.

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