Nairobi, Kenya – 6th May 2019 – Upepo Technology Company Limited (“Upepo”), a Kenyan technology firm has been awarded a Microsoft AI for Earth grant to extend its innovative development of intelligent water management solutions that support water utilities, water community associations and other large abstractors of surface and ground water including agricultural enterprises, industries and commercial property owners to accurately measure and manage water while predicting future trends in consumption.
Under the AI for Earth Grant from Microsoft, Upepo will enhance its firm-level capabilities to deploy low cost Internet of Things (IoT) devices that once installed, immediately receive real time data for decision-making, insight and early remedial action to reduce water losses and enhance revenue across the water value chain from the river, reservoir and borehole; to the tap, water kiosk and the many communal watering points across Kenya.
Leveraging on Microsoft’s superior Azure Cloud platform, Upepo will under a year-long mentorship program develop key capabilities in cloud computing, IoT and Artificial intelligence (AI) to support water service providers in managing, predicting and preparing for growth in higher demand for water due to growth in population, urbanization and economic growth. Upepo’s data, revenue and predictive analytics platform will ultimately improve consumer and industry expectations on service delivery and overall perceptions on reliable hours of supply for water in Kenya and the wider East African region.
According to Kenya’s water sector regulator, the Water Service Regulatory Board (WASREB), access rates for water in Kenya have stood at a stubborn 55% over the last three years to 2018, while the industry-wide average of 42% of treated water lost in non-revenue water (NRW) has denied the sector an estimated Kes 7.6 billion ($76 million) in revenue annually. Conversely and by adopting technology and enhancing infrastructure, WASREB estimates that a 30% reduction in NRW to 2030 would raise Kes 80 billion ($800 million) in savings for infrastructure expansion, enhanced supply and quality of water across the country.
Mr. Kevin Kihara, Upepo’s CEO, said “This important grant from Microsoft is a turning point that allows Upepo to immediately access Azure Cloud, IoT and AI resources to develop products that effectively mitigate water losses that directly contribute to large and excessive surface and ground water withdrawals detrimental to the supply of water for communities living downstream. In emphasis, he continued, “Water losses are a perpetual threat to the health of rivers, riparian areas, ground water sources and water catchment zones in a period in which Africa faces a Janus-faced threat of a rapidly urbanizing population growth in an environment of systemic climate change across the continent.”
“In the next two decades, demand for fresh water is predicted to dramatically outpace supply. Technology such as the intelligent cloud and AI can help model and measure the Earth’s water supply to help us manage and protect fresh water,” said Ghada Khalifa, Philanthropies Regional Director for Microsoft Middle East and Africa. “Through Microsoft’s AI for Earth program, we are excited to partner with Upepo as they develop innovative intelligent solutions that will both conserve and improve critical access to Kenya’s water supply.”
AI for Earth is a $50 million, 5-year program that brings the full advantage of Microsoft technology to those working to solve global environmental challenges in the key focus areas of climate, agriculture, water and biodiversity. Through grants that provide access to cloud and AI tools, opportunities for education and training on AI and investments in innovative, scalable solutions, AI for Earth works to advance sustainability across the globe.
Upepo Technology Company Ltd is one of 22 Africa-based organizations to be recognized by Microsoft for its impact and potential, and will join a growing number of AI for Earth grantees worldwide.
Upepo is also a participating Microsoft partner in its MS4Afrika Initiative that supports African start-ups, small-to-medium enterprises, governments and youth to embrace cloud technology that delivers new services to market, enhances smart productivity and data-driven decisions that improve livelihoods, local business and the continent’s investment climate. Please see Microsoft 4 Afrika https://www.microsoft.com/africa/4afrika/
Kevin Kihara, CEO, Upepo