Telecommunications operator Safaricom’s M-PESA enables already 8.8 million subscribers in Kenya to send and receive money through their mobile phones. It also contributes to entirely new applications that can leverage this mobile payment system. ‘Computerised water’ is one of them. See the M-PESA YouTube video. Residents of Katitika village in Kitui now have a nearby water point known as, maji ya kompiuta, or ‘computerised water’ was developed through a collaboration of Safaricom, Grundfos, a division of the Danish pump maker Grundfos Group, and Katitika Self Help Group.
All members of the Katitika group use electronic cards, which have to be loaded using the M-pesa service with at least Sh100. When in need of water, a resident points the card to the card reader, which triggers the pump to deliver water while deducting the three shillings per 20 litre automatically. Once funds are exhausted, the client reloads it again. Read the full story in the Daily Nation of December 2009.
The water pump company is changing its business model, writes Nathan Eagle in the great book SMS Uprising: Mobile phone activism in Africa. They move away from hardware sales to sell what he calls water ‘vending machines’.