Techies tweaking imported software to meet local needs

Software developers have made Kenya a test-tube for their mobile and website applications. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

A new breed of software professionals are taking the technology scene by storm, customising imported software products to suit local client needs.

These tech-savvy Kenyans have helped the country leapfrog technologically and is competing almost on an equal footing with global brands in developed countries.

In an interview with Digital , QED Solutions Limited chief executive Catherine Mitchem said existence of a highly trained manpower that speaks English gave Kenya a major head start in adoption and customisation of various mobile and website applications that suit various purposes in Kenya and across Africa.

“Sale of imported software products requires the resellers to understand client needs before recommending any product and this should be backed by aftersales support,” she said.

The products must then be customised to accommodate various uses including backend and frontend functions.


“But it (customisation) comes at a cost where we employ software developers, cybersecurity experts and sales people who have to be sent abroad for ‘on-site training,” she said.

Ms Mitchem, who trained as a bio-chemist in the US, says their main task is to identify software products from any market in the world that are relevant to the Kenyan and African market.

QED is locally known for its Tendersure software used by public and private sector entities.

Ms Mitchen said Tendersure developed by South Africa’s Adolf Koekemoer has locally gained traction due to its ability to pore through hundreds of tender applications filed online and shortlist bidders based on an automated and anonymous process.

“Our task is to customise Tendersure where we upload a client’s selection criteria and also make follow-ups on site visits to confirm bidders possess what they say they have. In one instance, we were contracted to shortlist cadaver suppliers, sourcing for dead bodies for study purposes in medical schools,” she said.

The platform, she said, weeds out quacks, and provides companies with a means to bargain for cheaper prices before a tender is dished out. The platform also provides for end-to-end supplier bids processing which results in “a surprise winner”.

“This roots out fraud as tender committees only get our report of shortlisted bidders whose names are concealed. This will see them deliberate and choose the best bid without knowing the bidders’ identity,” she says.

Software developers have also made Kenya a test-tube for their mobile and website applications that have turned out to be crucial solutions for local problems.

Uber, co-founded by Garrett Camp with Travis Kalanick in 2009 revolutionalised the taxi business opening the door for other local and foreign developed taxi-hailing apps from Mondo, taxify, Littlecab, Swvl, among others.