Archive for the ‘alternative approach’ Category

Boda boda registration – An approach for KCCA

There are job advertisements going all around social media for enumerators to support an exercise to register boda-boda drivers in Kampala city. These are thoughts on how the implementation can be done in a cost-effective manner, getting a reasonable return for the investment.

  1. Stakeholder engagement and management – outline the benefits of the registration to the different stakeholders, the motorcycle owners, riders, general public, law enforcement
  2. Digitize the process – in the era of cheap $100 – $150 tablets, this can manage the costs by combining both the data collection and data entry steps of process. This can also help provide immediate metrics of survey progress
  3. Leverage the social organization that is boda boda stages – these are the defacto locations where the riders congregate and organize themselves. At the stages is also a social circle and hierarchy with savings schemes, rules of behavior that is enforced.
  4. Leverage other databases – URA TIN and Vehicle Registration, National Identification Regulatory Authority (NIRA) for National ID verification to help verify the accuracy of the collected data
  5. Tag the boda bodas that have been registered – you can use passive RFID tags which can be checked quickly
  6. Use a local company to build the platform – rather than a foreign owned entity
  7. Plan for motorcycles that may be missed in the different verification waves, so that the exercise remains up to date

Additions and feedback are welcome

Alternate Approach to Legal Independent Election Tallying

The Uganda elections are more or less over with less than 6 hours for the Uganda Electoral Commission (EC) to announce the results for the presidential elections.

Given all the time on our hands, with no social media, the team at Styx Technology Group designed the following alternative approach to independent electoral vote tallying for future elections that provides inbuilt mechanisms for audit and verification of results.

The primary data sources for the process are:

  1. Official EC list of polling stations and voters per polling station
  2. Photos of the signed election tally sheets from each polling station. To ensure that the photos are not tampered with and provide an audit trail:
    • Each photograph has to be taken with information on the camera, the GPS coordinates of where the photo was taken, date and time when the photo was taken which is available in many cameras that share it using the Exchangeable Image File Format (EXIF)
    • Two separate photos of the tally sheets have to be taken by different cameras
    • The cameras taking equipment may be registered beforehand to provide validation of the source of the information
    • The signatures of the returning officers and stamp must be clear and visible in the photo

The architecture for the technology solution is as follows:

  1. Web based solution accessible via any browser. Due to poor Internet connectivity in many areas of the country, an Android app would be provided to assist in data collection, then data sent once the user gets into an area with Internet.
  2. The field officers who capture the photos would also be provided with an option of entering the candidate vote tallies.
  3. In the tallying center, candidate vote tallies are entered from the photos received and vote tallies entered by data clerks. In order to reduce errors the following approach would be used:
    • The clerks are randomly assigned photos as they come in
    • The tally for a station must be entered correctly by two separate data entry clerks, then approved by a supervisor. This process is formally called the two-pass verification method or double data entry.
  4. All correctly entered data is shared with the rest of the world for download and analysis.

This system is mission-critical having to be available for the entire vote counting period of 48 hours,  so the architecture includes the following paths for data collection:

  1.  Multiple access IP addresses and domains for the website in case some are blocked off
  2. Any data collected via the Android app can be sent via email to a dedicated tallying center address. To ensure that only data from the app is received and not changed in transit, encryption is used.

The inspiration came from a quote by Ghandi “Be the change you wish to see in the world”, disproving the myth that there is no local capability to design and implement such solutions and most of all that such solutions have to be complex.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions…

Alternate Approach to MTN SIM Card Registration Process & Web Tool 

MTN Uganda has finally put together an application to support the online registration of simcards. However the process as outlined in the Dignited article (http://www.dignited.com/15503/you-can-now-register-your-mtn-uganda-sim-card-online-heres-how/) requires a user to download a registration form, upload it then wait until MTN staff can get back on the registration status.
This blog post provides an alternate design and approach for an online sim-card registration tool, thanks to the team at Styx Technology Group for putting the design and mockups for the alternate solution.
The principles of the system design are as follows:
  1. A user can register more than one sim-card under their own names only after completing their profile information, which cannot be changed later (for audibility)
  2. A user can return and check their registration information later
  3. MTN staff can respond to a registration pointing out any missing or inaccurate information
  4. The user can be notified by SMS and/or email of the status of their registration, and can also login to check the status
  5. The registrations can also be downloaded and added to MTN systems (as may be required)
  6. For identification, two documents have to be provided to confirm, and because the numbers are entered, it is easy for MTN staff to verify
The mockups below tell the story of how an alternate process looks like  licensed under the Creative Commons 3
Login Screen

Login Screen

Signup Screen

Signup Screen

Dashboard

Dashboard

My Profile

My Profile

Register Number

Register Number

UPDATE – November 19, 2015: Looks like MTN updated the sim card registration process to an online form at https://www.mtnbusiness.co.ug/mtnreg/ in response to this post

Alternate Approach to Voice Price Wars in Telecom Industry in Uganda

My colleagues at Styx Technology Group are looking at alternate approaches to telecos in Uganda to increase their ARPU (Average Revenue Per Unit) a metric for revenue from each customer, instead of the current price war tagged to 3/= per second (US$ 0.1 per minute).

  1. Accept that voice is now commodity, being pushed further out by VOIP for both regular users and business, due to the improving Internet connectivity both via fixed and mobile connections. There is no longer a competitive edge to having cheaper voice, the revenues are fixed and can only go lower
  2. Bundled services: Currently there are separate plans for voice, SMS and data, which have to be purchased daily or when needed. The monthly plans have a premium attached, so without looking at the numbers I suspect that a majority of the regular users purchase daily plans as and when is needed. The telecoms can create bundled plans (already existing for voice) to include SMS and data without the hefty premium. Additional incentives can be provided for further discounts when a user pays consistently for a plan for 6 months, without any breaks.
  3. Smartphone Device and Service Contracts: While these are being gotten rid of in the US and Europe, the market in Uganda is ripe for disruption, where smartphones are paid over 12 to 24 months, with bundled services. Obviously the argument here is the risk associated with lending in Uganda, but options include partnering with financial institutions can help reduce the risk profile, work through employers to deduct the costs of the contract directly at source.
  4. Multiple Smartphone Data Plans: This is similar to the device plans above, however this allows the owner of the plan to register additional devices for monthly fee to share the data. This has been common with unlimited plans, and would provide a new revenue stream.
  5. Extending Mobile Money Services: The best service to copy is PayWay with a wide range of devices, and platforms on which to use the service based on what infrastructure the agent has. I would like to be able to swipe my VISA card and transfer money to my account without having to go through the bank interface which tends to be down more often than not.
  6. Bulk Sales of Devices to Schools: The new underlapped customer base, sell more devices to schools get parents to pay part of the costs to push e-education services, why do kids still have to fill Advanced Level and University Level choices on paper forms that can be lost? With powerful tablets in the $50 to $100 range only the telecoms have the clout, network and drive to push this through.
  7. Custom Devices and Services: These are for data collection needs, surveys etc, which can be accessed through third parties but pushing the envelope on what is possible. The key here is flexibility of service, enabling channel partners build and innovate by creating custom services and plans to meet their specific needs.
The telecoms need to think of blue ocean strategies to create new markets, provide ability for others to leverage their platform investments for new revenue channels, leveraging the example of Amazon that has created a multi-billion dollar technology infrastructure business based on solving internal problems.
What do you think?

UPDATE: This blog post follows the same thinking as The Telecom Wars in Uganda – Round 5 – 2015 and Beyond on this blog too

Fundi Bots – A Relevant Alternate Approach to Science and Vocational Training in Uganda 

Today I am a proud father, when my two daughters aged 8 and 10 show me their robots, after 8 weeks with the Fundibots Robotics for Kids training program – Season II . What makes me proud is the fact that the children have gotten their hands dirty, gluing, soldering, learning and implementing mechanics to put together a walking robot and more importantly the students are having so much fun that they are not aware that they’re actually learning a lot.

With the transition of vocational colleges into universities, and the dying out of certain vocations like carpentry, car & machine repair, bricklaying, there is a general drop in the quality of core skills needed to build and maintain infrastructure such as processing plants, cottage industries, as well as factories.

Why do I think the Fundi Bots program is a necessary & relevant approach to core vocational skills building in Uganda, but Africa as a whole:

  1. The program brings together theory in multiple separate areas of mechanical engineering, electronics, software development producing firm foundation
  2. The blend of hardware and software provides a foundation for expansion into leveraging technology for other sectors like agriculture, medicine
  3. Majority of the materials used can be obtained locally, or manufactured using localized technology with a low barrier to entry
  4. The program can be run along existing education structures so can be easily adopted by different schools
  5. The technical aspects can be tailored to different levels, from upper primary school through secondary school to university level
  6. Going through the class provides a mindset change – and a new look into science through a different lens
  7. The program can be tailored to suit special interest groups, like girls, less advantaged, and even in resource constrained environments
  8. The skills are marketable globally, and can be grown to support both local and global needs

Last but not least, is the vision that Solomon King provides for growing the program, based on his own personal journey and experiences, you can see the glint in his eye as he watched over the technology seed planted in the youths through the program

The million dollar question, is what can I do?

  1. Fundibots is a non-profit organization, any support in its different activities such as supporting STEM for Girls, Science education in Uganda including 35K by 2020
  2. Do you want to develop hardware based technologies for use in Uganda/Africa – leverage Fundibots by using and grow our research & innovations lab
Fundibots Cake - Stylish and Classy

Fundibots Cake – Stylish and Classy

The troops are ready for command

The troops are ready for command

Beginner Class Platoon Ready for Inspection

Beginner Class Platoon Ready for Inspection

Arachnid Robots - Alien or Not?

Arachnid Robots – Alien or Not?

Showcase time - getting those robots ready

Showcase time – getting those robots ready

My brood #IamFundi

My brood #IamFundi

Solomon King Addressing the Season II Graduating Class

Solomon King Addressing the Season II Graduating Class

Fundibots Season II Class

Fundibots Season II Class

Robots, Cake and Drinks

Robots, Cake and Drinks

Certificates and Supplementary Materials

Certificates and Supplementary Materials

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