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Startup.Info names HydroIQ as Africa's top 2018 start-up

Startup.Info names HydroIQ as Africa's top 2018 start-up

Kenya-based water monitoring start-up, HydroIQ, has been crowned by Startup.Info, a collaborative magazine dedicated to the promotion of African technology start-ups, as Africa's top start-up for 2018.

The start-up has built a GPS and internet-enabled smart metering device, called HydroIQ, which is plugged into the existing water supply network, turning the traditional water system into a smart water grid.

HydroIQ is installed at the households to monitor consumption in real-time and allow consumers to pay for only the water they consume on a 'pay as you go' basis using mobile money. Combining these technologies, the company claims to be 'a world first Virtual Water Network Operator.'

Experts have urged African start-ups to develop solutions to solve local problems. The start-up's CEO and co-founder, Brian Bosire, who lived in Nairobi for eight years, says water loss and leakage is a big problem in the city.

"50% of the water supplied by utilities in Africa is lost before reaching the consumer due to the inefficiency of the distribution network."

The company has partnered with local water utilities to help solve this problem. "In addition, due to a poor payment infrastructure, consumers are not able to make payments conveniently using the most preferred mode of payment, which is mobile money; this adds up to 45% in revenue losses. In total, this is US$3 billion in revenue losses for water utilities across Africa."

The UN says two-thirds of the world's population could be living in water-stressed conditions by 2025.

HydroIQ's victory was announced at the second edition of Startup.Info's 'Startup of the Year 2018' competition held recently in the city of Casablanca in Morocco, in partnership with international groups such as OCP, ENGIE, and QWANT among others.

With an increasing number of technology start-ups in the continent, the event saw more than 600 start-ups from 52 different countries taking part. Startup.Info adds that more than 12 000 online votes were gathered and 41 million people reached on social media.

In October last year, MTN Business hosted similar awards where a number of technology start-ups showcased their innovations. The overall winner from MTN was Standard Bank's Shyft, a global digital wallet app for Android and iOS, which hopes to make forex transactions simple on a smartphone.

Arno von Helden, Executive Head of Forex Solutions at Standard Bank said with so many start-ups emerging and initiative being shown, competing with big corporates, the opportunity lies in the power of digital. "What the innovation does is it levels the playing field and forces big corporates like us to be better and to do more."

Ishmael Sunga, CEO of the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) says technology innovations can overcome Africa's challenges, particularly in agriculture. "We need to combine innovation, investment, and policy to harness the power of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to benefit smallholder farmers."

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