More than ever before, technology is transforming Africa and unlocking its potential. As the rest of the world leapfrogs in technological innovation, African software developers are doing the same. They’re creating ground-breaking, cutting-edge mobile technologies to solve African problems in communities closest to them. The Best African Mobile Apps will be a regular feature in which I will profile the best mobile apps from Africa – just like iCow.
In 2010 the U.S Department of State sponsored Apps 4 Africa, an East African regional competition designed to highlight the talent of local developers and to leverage the power of mobile technology to help solve some of Africa’s most nagging problems. The region has a lot of savvy developers and tech geeks, so as expected, several hundred applications flowed in.
The winning App was iCow- the world’s first mobile phone cow calendar!
So, what is iCow?
iCow is an SMS (text message) and voice-based mobile phone application for small-scale dairy farmers in Kenya. It’s something of a virtual veterinary midwife, helping farmers track the estrus stages of their cows, while giving them valuable tips on cow breeding, animal nutrition, milk production efficiency and gestation. Each text message costs about 10 Kenyan shillings, or 10 U.S. cents.
According to iCow’s website, the app “Prompts farmers on vital days of cows gestation period; helps farmers find the nearest vet and AI providers; collects and stores farmer milk and breeding records and sends farmers best dairy practices.” The text messages and voice prompts are sent to customers within the 365-day cow cycle, and the app is designed to run on both low-end and high-end mobile phones.