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New Trend in Malware Attacks

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During this pandemic, malware attacks have risen significantly.

Malware Analysis 101

malware-attack.png

Due to the rampant Covid-19 cases, most of us are working from home or having online classes. Some of us, I included are on Tiktok, YouTube, binge-watching all movies, and series we can get our hands-on. As always there is always that 1% of the population that is not on the same page as you. In a cybersecurity setup, this is the people we call black hats. Black hats create malicious software such as a virus, worms, trojan horses, etc., During this pandemic, malware attacks have risen significantly.

Here are some real-life attacks happening in the world:

The New Malware Attacks

WHO Pic

Some attackers will send emails claiming to be World Health Organization giving you advice on how to stay safe which but at the bottom, they will request you to open a document so that you can “get complete research on the global pandemic and guidance”. This was an actual attack that happened where the attacker attached the “research document” called MyHealth-Ebook.zip in March 2020. The goal is to ensure that after the download it will steal browser data and perform keylogging.

Free downloads APKs

We have all received WhatsApp messages that request you to download a cool app from a friend and this will give you “free something” such as the one below.

Malware pic 2
Before I type about the technical bit on malware, we should discuss what is an APK. This is an android package kit used by android users for the distribution and installation of mobile apps. Anyone can modify an APK, add a trojan horse that will run malicious code on a device.

The latest malware on APK I have read was on twitter where if you download the APK it will start by asking for user permissions like “allow to view contacts and messages”. After this, the malware will go through your messages and automatically send messages to your contact lists requesting money. Then the APK sends messages so that it appears you (the installer) of the APK have sent the message and you are requesting the money to be sent to another number.  According to the tweet, there is only a 30% chance that an antivirus would flag this.

Prevention

My greatest emphasis on all of this is paying attention. When you install an app pay attention to what you are accepting as your user permissions. Ask yourself questions like, “Why would update on a flashlight need to read my messages?”

We need to stop being gullible when we hear something is free on the internet. Cheap is always expensive in the long run.

 

Author: Florence Nkirote and Shawn Ochieng

Security Operations Center, IT security department

Password Leniency? It is time to level up!

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On 22nd April 2020, reports went viral on social media that leading healthcare agencies and institutions combating the Coronavirus pandemic were compromised and nearly 25,000 email addresses and passwords were posted. This data was dumped to 4chan then Pastebin, http://archive.is/JIJ2b which is frequently used to reveal breached data, and Twitter. SITE Intelligence Group – which looks after online extremism and terrorist organizations, gave a detailed breakdown of this data via a tweet but was unable to verify whether the credentials were authentic:

  • 9,938 emails and passwords came from the National Institute of Health (NIH)
  • 6,857 from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • 5,120 from the World Bank
  • 2,732 from the World Health Organization (WHO)
  • 269 from the Gates Foundation
  • 21 from the Wuhan Institute of Virology

At the same time, reports surfaced countering the claims that these institutions were hacked, stating that the dumped usernames and passwords were obtained from old, previous data breaches and someone went through the process of pulling the credentials from dumps of other hacks. Moreover, these institutions issued statements refuting the claim that they were compromised, and the data was from previous hacks.

While going through the links which was being shared on social media, one can clearly  see the laxity of users in protecting themselves from cyber attacks. Weak passwords are in use.  As a result this article is to address this security issue of password leniency and how you and your organisation can secure your information.

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No matter how strong the firewalls, cryptography, intrusion detection and prevention systems, anti-virus software, or any system in the organization are, the weakest link in the security chain is the human element. This can be seen through the negligence of security practices among employees, insider threats, and committing mistakes. We are all human. No matter how sophisticated advanced technologies or security practices are, they will always be constrained by the human factor. A notable example is the choice and use of weak passwords to secure systems and accounts.

In his book, The Art of Invisibility, Kevin D. Mitnick and Robert Vamosi state that that many people, even executives at large corporations, are lazy when it comes to passwords. Habits such as password reuse across multiple accounts, use of simple and easy to use passwords and its poor storage are rampant. For instance, the data dump from the purported data breach had “forty-eight people with “password” as their password, “changeme”, and use of their first names among other terrible passwords. Having such weak passwords increases your chances of being compromised in a data breach, as these common terms are included in most password-cracking wordlists available online. You can always check the site http://www.haveibeenpwned.com https://haveibeenpwned.com/ to see if your account has been compromised in the past.

However, it is important to note that selecting and using a hard-to-guess password does not prevent hacking / unauthorized access to an account or system because of the existence of hacking tools such as oclHashcat (a password-cracking tool that leverages graphics processing units (GPU) for high-speed cracking) and John the Ripper which tries every possible combination of numbers, letters, and symbols within defined the parameters by the attacker until it is successful at cracking your password. Using complex passwords will help slow the password cracking process to encourage an adversary to move on to an easier target.

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Password cracking definition – it is the process of attempting to gain unauthorized access to restricted systems using common passwords or algorithms that guess passwords. In other words, it’s an art of obtaining the correct password that gives access to a system protected by an authentication method.

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Password complexity can be improved by increasing its length and combination of random alphanumeric characters and symbols. Some even recommend the use of passphrase instead. This may appear difficult, but you can leverage available software designed to manage passwords.

Digital password managers eliminate the process of you creating your passwords by simply automating the process by generating new, unique, strong passwords for each account, storing your credentials in an encrypted digital vault, and allowing one-click access when you need them. Though, be aware of the following while using them:

  • Password managers use one master password for access. If this password is known to another unauthorized user, game over! That person will have access to all your passwords in the password manager.
  • If you lose the master password, you lose all your passwords. Nevertheless, you can always perform a password reset on each site, but that is a huge hassle if you have a lot of accounts.

Despite these flaws, using digital password managers is more than adequate to keep your passwords secure.

An alternative to using password managers is using strong complex passwords/passphrases as mentioned earlier. Unfortunately, the human mind has trouble remembering random sequences. Therefore, use a password manager that will provide strong unique passwords for different accounts than choosing your own.

strong-password

Note: never use the same password for two different or more accounts. This is because when one of the accounts gets compromised, that credential will be tried on other accounts of products/services that you have subscribed to. Thus, an adversary can log in to them. For instance, the credentials in the dump from the “alleged” hack are work emails. They can be used to access emails, banks, social media accounts, and software used by the organizations.

In conclusion, we must admit that the biggest threat to cybersecurity lies within the company and they are humans. Due to their psychological flaws, they are targeted as the weakest link in the cyber chain. Despite that fact, efforts can still be made to minimize being compromised and one way is to counter this issue at hand by having password policies in organizations that define what a secure bare minimum password should be. Also, software/systems which require logging in should be able to determine the password strengths of a user.

Lastly, organizations should ensure that their passwords are not stored in plain text but hashed using a strong hashing algorithm.

Authors: Nina Mutai and Shawn Ochieng’
Security Operations Center,  IT security department

 

 

Online Learning Transition for Kenyan Universities during COVID-19 Crisis

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Online Learning Transition for Kenyan Universities during COVID-19 Crisis

The Ministry of Health confirmed Kenya’s first case of Coronavirus on the 12th March 2020. This was the first case to be reported in Kenya since the initial outbreak in China in December 2019. With the risk of confirmed cases rising, the government banned public gatherings like events, rallies and weddings in an effort to curb the spread. These measures also included a directive to close all institutions of learning and thus Strathmore University (SU) was affected. The Ministry of Education (MoE) also made a directive to have the curriculum teaching to be delivered through radio, television, YouTube and other digital platforms.

In line with the directive, Strathmore University has complied and moved all classes online to ensure that learning activities continue with minimal interruption. Strathmore University is making use of different tools for online learning such as Microsoft Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams and Zoom. This has been aided by a variety of online tools to support learning which have been adopted by the University such as Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Zoom. @iLabAfrica’s Digital Learning Team was tasked with training all SU lecturers on the use of Skype for Business to deliver online classes. The tool has been in use at @iLabAfrica to teach online Masters Programs and supports up to 250 participants in a session.

Strathmore University has a Skype for Business license which lecturers and students use to set up and attend online meetings. The tool has various capabilities which include: PowerPoint sharing which supports annotations, Q&A sessions, meeting recording tools for the presenter to manage participants: invite more participants, remove from meeting, mute attendees, make presenter or attendee, disable video or IM and program sharing.

“The use of Adobe Connect makes the tutor’s interaction with students similar to face-to-face learning. It is amazing to see how the tutors divide students into groups online, give them activities and still get all students to participate in the learning process. The virtual classroom environment is brilliant and enables the students to get one-on-one support.” Dr. John Olukuru-Head of Data Science and Analystics, @iLabAfrica.

How the online platform works

Skype for Business supports live online learning. How this occurs is:

A link for the class is created through the Web scheduler and the link shared with the participants. At the scheduled time for the class, the lecturer and students use the link to join the session. The lecturer moderates the session and performs various tasks like sharing their screen, uploading attachments which students can download and access from their end (e.g. notes, eBooks, videos, images, etc.), sharing a PowerPoint presentation, making one of the students a presenter (in the case when one is making a presentation).

Sharon Anyanga- Project Manager iLabAfrica mentioned that” The experience has been a great learning experience on the capacity of video communications platforms such as Zoom. We are able to conduct full time classes. At the inception of a program we train the students on how to interact with the platforms and the different functionalities. There has been an adjustment period but after several days of interaction the students get a hang of it.”

The presenter can also upload notes prior to class and decide whether students can download them. The presentations made during the class will remain accessible even after the live session unless the presenter deletes them. Students also have access to SU’s eLearning portal where notes are shared and assignments are uploaded.

Class Participation

Students can participate in class by asking questions directly to the rest of the group through Instant Messaging (IM), audio or Q&A sessions. The students can also collaborate interactively through the Whiteboard session. The lecturer moderate’s student interaction to prevent interruption of the class.

Sharon further added that some of the advantages seen though these online classes “With e-Learning students are able to learn at their own pace. Coupled with the private chats on the learning platforms, students are comfortable to engage with the trainers as well as access the course material anywhere at any time.”

Students are also able to make a presentation to the rest of the class. They can do this when the lecturer assigns the role of presenter to one of the students. When the student presentation is done, the lecturer takes back control and continues the class as the sole presenter.
The shift to online classes also has some challenges “Once in a while we experience unstable internet which affects our student attendance. while some students are struggling with the costs of internet”  mentioned Sharon.

Online Classes have been in practice @iLabAfrica for Master’s program. This initiative will ensure students are safely learning from home as they await the global pandemic to wear off and start therefore when physical on campus classes resume, they will be able to easily catch up with the semester.

 

 

 

FIRST PROTOTYPING COMPETITION IN 6 AFRICAN COUNTRIES

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20200401_141517

WAZIHUB this week launched its first IoT Prototyping competition to support IoT enthusiasts learn and bring to life innovative prototypes with the help of our trainers and the WAZIUP technology (software and hardwares).

The competition is implemented in 6 African countries in collaboration with distinguished tech hubs, partners of the project: Kumasi Hive in Ghana, @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University in Kenya, SONATEL in Senegal, The MakerSpace Foundation in South Africa, Hive Colab in Uganda and DTBi in Tanzania.

WAZIHUB vision is to foster IoT deployment in Africa, engaging startups and entrepreneurs for rapid prototyping with the Open Source low-cost WAZIUP IoT LoRa technologies” Says Abdur Rahim, WAZIHUB Project Coordinator.

This innovation competition, first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa, is open to all IoT enthusiasts who want to build a prototype of their invention and develop a scalable business model. WAZIHUB aims to help makers build working prototypes and stand a chance to win monetary prizes.

A WAZIUP IoT kit will be given to each team selected for the competition and a 1000 € award will be given to the top 3 innovative prototypes. Female team lead and members are highly encouraged! Applications are open until 30th of April for Developers, Engineers or Startups. You can propose your idea in the following areas:

  • Agriculture and Farming
  • Logistics and Transportation
  • Industry 4.0
  • Environment and Energy
  • Smart city and Home

Given the world situation due to the Covid-19, WAZIHUB will support 1 project with a concrete impact on this global pandemic.

To apply, click here: https://wazihub.com/challenge/

ABOUT WAZIHUB

The WAZIHUB project aims at enabling startups & entrepreneurs to innovate and build low- cost, end to end IoT prototypes using the WAZIUP and Fiware technology. Fully funded by the European Union for 3 years, it is the continuation of the WAZIUP project also funded by the EU whose main objective was to empower affordable and open IoT solution adoption in Africa.

 

ABOUT TECH HUB PARTNERS

Kumasi Hive – Ghana: Kumasi Hive is a multi-space Technology Innovation Hub which provides a platform for rapid Prototyping of ideas, supporting local Innovations & impact start-up and promoting entrepreneurship.

www.kumasihive.com

 

IlabAfrica – Kenya: @iLabAfrica is a Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovation and Development at Strathmore University. @iLabAfrica facilitates a thriving technological, entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem in Nairobi, where developers, technologists, designers, makers, social entrepreneurs and changemakers co-exist.

www.ilabafrica.ac.ke

 

Sonatel – Senegal: Sonatel (Société Nationale des Télécommunications du Sénégal ) is the principal telecommunications provider in Senegal. Sonatel is involved in Open innovation from 2013 by many platforms (Emerginov, Fiware, Opal,…) and open  APIs (USSD,SMS, Billing and Mobile Money) to help the local ecosystem monetize their services.

https://sonatel.sn

The MakerSpace – South Africa: The MakerSpace Foundation provides access to MakerSpace tools and technology, training and skills development, accelerator and incubation for start-ups.

https://themakerspace.co.za

 

Hive Colab – Uganda: Uganda’s premier co-working space and tech incubator for fast-growing startups revolutionizing Uganda’s digital economies.

https://hivecolab.org

 

DTBi – Tanzania: The Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) is a Not-For-Profit Company run as a business registered in Tanzania. DTBi is a Tech Incubator in the country that promotes the growth of ICT technology-based emerging companies, Start-ups and those with innovative ideas contributing to job creation (including youth and women) and enhanced economic health of the nation.

http://teknohama.or.tz

 

How Covid-19 is impacting Kenya’s startup ecosystem

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In recent weeks, we have seen the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic not only on financial markets but also on vulnerable industries such as the service industry with experts predicting a potential economic recession. We talked to thought leaders in the Silicon Savannah to learn how the startup ecosystem in Kenya and hubs across the continent have been impacted by the pandemic and what they are doing to stay afloat.


Status report on Kenyan startup scene

As with most businesses globally, startups and startup support organizations in Kenya have been forced to adopt remote working. Bernard Chiira, Chairman of The Association of Startup & SME Enablers in Kenya (ASSEK) points out that the Kenyan startup ecosystem will have to invest in new trust models, workplace rules to compensate for lack of physical contact to maintain the same level of work output. A recent survey indicates that Kenyan businesses and hubs have redirected their resources towards acquiring connectivity at home (airtime, internet bundles), licenses for telework platforms e.g. webinar platforms such as Zoom/Skype, CRMs and incubator/accelerator management platforms.

Bernard Chiira,Chairman of The Association of Startup & SME Enablers in Kenya (ASSEK)

But, it isn’t just remote working, with reduced face-to-face interaction many businesses will have to figure out alternatives on how to acquire customers and hit their sales. Bernard former Manager of @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University the sees this as a window of opportunity for businesses to go digital noting that digital businesses that have been operating with very lean teams have an upper hand.

So, how can the ecosystem respond to this? Chiira recommends having centralized access to the information on resources, solutions, etc., economic stimulus grants and tax relief targeted at startups and SMEs as well as quick testing and adoption of digital innovations responding to Covid-19. Lastly, to keep the lifeline of the Kenyan economy alive, he says we will require intelligent monitoring of the startup ecosystem and SME sector to track, improve and adapt accordingly.

Status Report on African startup scene

Across the continent, the same narrative rings true for businesses with several African governments enforcing lockdowns to limit movement. Strathmore University @iBizAfrica manager  Linda Kwamboka, , views the situation from a different lens. She says that:

“Hubs have remembered the power of interconnection and networks; that online communities have so much power to impact positive outcome in our ecosystems. There are more conversations on how to solve the pandemic with people jumping on board to collaborate, provide funding towards it and taking the responsibility to hold each other accountable.”

She adds that there is a shift in the role of hubs and incubators in Africa to become co-creators of solutions with more development partners and large corporates collaborating with hubs and hub networks like Afrilabs as avenues to communicate programs designed to call communities to solve the COVID-19 crisis.

The New Board of AfriLabs with the Executive Director of AfriLabs. LTR: Daniel Chinagozi, Kudzai M. Mubaiwa, Nekesa Were, Rebecca Enonchong, Linda Kwamboka, Fatoumata Niang Niox, Anna Ekeledo and Moataz Helmy.

Looking into the future, Linda also a Board Member of AfriLabs, a Pan-African network organization of 174 innovation centers across 45 African countries says; there is likelihood to change the mindset of understanding hubs as a physical space, and shift it to the view that hubs are collaborating platforms which may take a physical or online shape. Moreover, Linda adds that hubs will no longer be confined to countries, they are now thinking global!

Supporting businesses and startups

With experts predicting the global economy will contract by 2.2%, Jonas Tesfu, CEO at Pangea Accelerator admits that this is an unprecedented situation and challenging for many hubs as there is no recipe on how to handle it. Financial experts expect that the pandemic will result in delay, halt or slow performance towards achieving milestones and extending runway for investment portfolios. Jonas also sees a slowdown in investment amid the market uncertainty with grant funded programs experiencing hiccups as funders try to get bearing on funding prioritization and decision making protocols.

Startup, Ejenzi, pitches to investors. Startups rely on investment to easily scale their businesses.

It is expected that largely few number of deals if any will go on during this time and investors and founders will have to adopt a wait-and-see stance while keeping an eye on investment opportunities that get to outlive the pandemic. It will be a great test in time for efficiency in bootstrapping and managing portfolios caught at the tail end of their runway or at the crossing of raising a round.

Therefore, for business continuity; startups, SMES and support intermediaries will have to tweak their business models for resilience and bootstrap to outlive the pandemic. Going forward, Jonas predicts that once things go back to normal; hubs will incorporate hybrid programs having strong digital focus.

Co-work spaces and networking

Perhaps the most affected hubs are co-work spaces and event spaces targeting the ecosystem. This is following stringent measures by government and recommendations by health experts to exercise physical distancing. Maurice Otieno, General Manager at Metta Nairobi, a member community with the purpose of driving knowledge sharing, innovation, and business for entrepreneurs, admits that these times are proving to be very difficult for networking events to take place and like many hubs, Metta closed its space indefinitely with the team working remotely. However, Maurice also sees an opportunity with more virtual events and networking activities taking place through virtual meeting tools like zoom. He views this as opening opportunities since now anyone can host and won’t have to rely on a physical space but a compelling reason for people to join. He predicts we will see an improvement in quality of content to guarantee audience.

Metta Nairobi Space; A members’ club for the entrepreneurial community to connect, share knowledge and bring ideas to life.

Hannah Clifford, Director at Nairobi Garage, a co-working space — offering flexible work spaces across Nairobi, says they have also moved their events online to enhance safety of their members. Like many businesses, the uncertainty of when things will return to normal is their biggest worry right now, as well as the overall effect this will have on people’s livelihoods

We are quite a strong community, even when not physically together, and that’s really good to see during this time. And we are also optimistic — in times like this, the benefits of a flexible work spaces are clear, especially for those that have previously been skeptical and are currently in very rigid and costly set ups.

— Hannah, Clifford, Director at Nairobi Garage.

WRITTEN BY

Pangea Accelerator

Pangea is a partner institution with @iBizAfrica- Strathmore Univeristy. It is a Norwegian based accelerator program and an investment platform that matches African startups with investors

 

WAZIHUB IOT LAUNCHES ITS FIRST PROTOTYPING COMPETITION IN 6 AFRICAN COUNTRIES

Posted on

20200401_141517

WAZIHUB launches its first IoT Prototyping competition to support IoT enthusiasts learn and bring to life innovative prototypes with the help of our trainers and the WAZIUP technology (software and hardwares).

The competition is implemented in 6 African countries in collaboration with distinguished tech hubs, partners of the project: @iLabAfrica-Strathmore University in Kenya, Kumasi Hive in Ghana, SONATEL in Senegal, The MakerSpace Foundation in South Africa, Hive Colab in Uganda and DTBi in Tanzania.

“WAZIHUB vision is to foster IoT deployment in Africa, engaging startups and entrepreneurs for rapid prototyping with the Open Source low-cost WAZIUP IoT LoRa technologies” Says Abdur Rahim, WAZIHUB Project Coordinator.

This innovation competition, first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa, is open to all IoT enthusiasts who want to build a prototype of their invention and develop a scalable business model. WAZIHUB aims to help makers build working prototypes and stand a chance to win monetary prizes.

A WAZIUP IoT kit will be given to each team selected for the competition and a 1000 € award will be given to the top 3 innovative prototypes. Female team lead and members are highly encouraged! Applications are open until 30th of April for Developers, Engineers or Startups. You can propose your idea in the following areas:
● Agriculture and Farming
● Logistics and Transportation
● Industry 4.0
● Environment and Energy
● Smart city and Home

Given the world situation due to the Covid-19, WAZIHUB will support 1 project with a concrete impact on this global pandemic.

To apply, click here: https://wazihub.com/challenge/

ABOUT WAZIHUB
The WAZIHUB project aims at enabling startups & entrepreneurs to innovate and build low- cost, end to end IoT prototypes using the WAZIUP and Fiware technology. Fully funded by the European Union for 3 years, it is the continuation of the WAZIUP project also funded by the EU whose main objective was to empower affordable and open IoT solution adoption in Africa.

ABOUT TECH HUB PARTNERS
Kumasi Hive – Ghana: Kumasi Hive is a multi-space Technology Innovation Hub which provides a platform for rapid Prototyping of ideas, supporting local Innovations & impact start-up and promoting entrepreneurship.
http://www.kumasihive.com

@ILabAfrica – Kenya: @iLabAfrica is a Centre of Excellence in ICT Innovation and Development at Strathmore University. @iLabAfrica facilitates a thriving technological, entrepreneurial and innovative ecosystem in Nairobi, where developers, technologists, designers, makers, social entrepreneurs and changemakers co-exist. http://www.ilabafrica.ac.ke

Sonatel – Senegal: Sonatel (Société Nationale des Télécommunications du Sénégal ) is the principal telecommunications provider in Senegal. Sonatel is involved in Open innovation from 2013 by many platforms (Emerginov, Fiware, Opal,…) and open APIs (USSD,SMS, Billing and Mobile Money) to help the local ecosystem monetize their services. https://sonatel.sn
The MakerSpace – South Africa: The MakerSpace Foundation provides access to MakerSpace tools and technology, training and skills development, accelerator and incubation for start-ups. https://themakerspace.co.za

Hive Colab – Uganda: Uganda’s premier co-working space and tech incubator for fast-growing startups revolutionizing Uganda’s digital economies. https://hivecolab.org

DTBi – Tanzania: The Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) is a Not-For-Profit Company run as a business registered in Tanzania. DTBi is a Tech Incubator in the country that promotes the growth of ICT technology-based emerging companies, Start-ups and those with innovative ideas contributing to job creation (including youth and women) and enhanced economic health of the nation.

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How Teens’ Innovation keeps Elephants at Bay

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GADGET
A photo of the Ndovucare device. It consists of a GSM card, a motion detector, a warning light and a siren and can detect an elephant at a radius of 180 metres. It offers a solution to human-wildlife conflict. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By LUCY MKANYIKA

There are many ways to keep elephants from destroying crops or attacking people. Erecting electric fences around national parks and game reserves is one. But how much would it cost to fence the expansive fence in Tsavo National Park?

The use of bees and pepper has also been tried and tested. And in some areas, villagers bang drums to turn away the animals, which are averse to noise. But how many beehives would have to be placed around the Tsavo to keep farms and farmers safe?

Luckily, there is a new innovation that could prove as effective. Known as Animal Sandra (Anisan), the technology was invented at Kajire Girls in Voi, Taita Taveta County, in 2018. The innovation was invented by four students who participated in the ‘Women In Tech’ Competition by Standard Chartered and @iBizAfrica- Strathmore University. The ‘Women in Tech’ is an initiative targeting women led start-ups leveraging on technology as a key drive to innovation in business in Kenya and across Africa.

Sandra Maryanne, Joyce Matoto, Nancy Wairimu and Macrina Antonia were motivated to come up with the idea because they had experienced human-wildlife conflict in their home area, which borders the Tsavo. Learning was frequently interrupted and many were the days students reported to school late and left early to avoid encountering elephants along the way. Their parents grow crops on the fringes of the park, which attracted the animals.

In many instances, farmers have had to kill elephants to save their crops but, once in a while, a hapless villager falls victim to an attack.

So how were such conflicts to be resolved?

 

Human –Wildlife Conflict

The quest for an answer led the four friends to think of an idea that could reduce human-wildlife conflict.

“We want both humans and wildlife to co-exist and this will lead to a peaceful community and good performance in school,” Sandra said in an interview with The Edge.

In its nascent stage, the four students named their innovation the “Ndovu Care Project”. Their hope was that the innovation would help keep elephants away from crop fields and community areas and in the end provide a permanent solution to perennial conflict between man and beast.

Guided by their teacher Ezra Abuga, they submitted their innovation for the Start-Up Africa Diamond Challenge competition for the most innovative technological invention.

The competition was held in Elgeyo-Marakwet County and the girls won the first prize. As a result, they qualified for a global challenge to represent Kenya at the University of Delaware in the US after defeating 85 other projects presented by secondary schools from across the country.

They then submitted their innovation to the “Women in tech” competition and were short listed among the top 10 start ups companies among 180 applicants to compete for the KES 1 million in seed funding for their businesses.  Through the competition they were able to relieve training, mentorship and coaching over a period of 6 months to grow their skills and expand their business.

Motor – Detectors

When Sandra, now 18, completed her secondary education in 2019, she continued making improvements on the portable device, which consists of a GSM card, a motion detector, a warning light and a siren.

The gadget can detect an elephant at a radius of 180 metres, after which it sends alerts to the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) as well as villagers, preparing them to act before the animals start destroying crops or making their way to habited areas.

The warning text messages are sent to individuals whose phones are linked to the GSM card.

“The sensors are capable of detecting the presence of an elephant and immediately alert people by setting off flash lights and a siren, besides sending warning messages to KWS and villagers’ phones,” said Sandra, after whom Anisan is named.

The gadget, which is solar-powered, is hoisted on masts at strategic points where the sensors can detect the movement of elephants.

The device has been subjected to numerous experiments by different organizations and institutions to test whether it can work. “Recently it was mounted at Rukinga Ranch so we are waiting for the results of that experiment,” said Sandra.

“This device will minimize poaching and deaths of elephants and residents respectively. The economy and nutrition of communities will also improve because crop destruction will be a thing of the past,” she said.

About

@iBizAfrica, Strathmore University
@iBizAfrica is the business incubator of Strathmore University, a leading private University in Kenya. The incubator provides a nurturing environment that builds on the potential of the youth to develop innovative solutions and businesses that work for the common good in society. @iBizAfrica provides training, advisory, mentorship, coaching,
networking opportunities, access to seed capital and investors, and state-of-the-art facilities. We prepare startups to be investor-ready and launch into market through our custom incubation and acceleration programs.

Standard Chartered
We are a leading international banking group, with a presence in more than 60 of the world’s most dynamic markets.
Our purpose is to drive commerce and prosperity through our unique diversity, and our heritage and values are expressed in our brand promise, Here for good. Standard Chartered PLC is listed on the London and Hong Kong Stock Exchanges as well as the Bombay and National Stock Exchanges in India.

This is one of the innovations featured in The Edge, a quarterly magazine published in Business Daily.