Africa does not lack water, it has significant natural resources. On the other hand, the continent uses only 7% of its potential in terms of hydraulic energy. Why? The lack of distribution and purification infrastructure, essential for good water management. In Niger, Tech-innov, a social enterprise has developed a remote controlled irrigation system. Its aim? Enable farmers to water their crops no matter where they are…
Abdou Maman has nurtured the idea of a remote controlled irrigation since 2010. The Nigerien founder of Tech-innov conducted research into how to remotely control the irrigation system of an agricultural cultivation, notwithstanding geographical location and time. How to trigger the watering system with the use of a mobile phone and solar energy and following an intelligent water distribution pattern (need, quantity, time, speculation in terms of type). He produced the first prototype in 2011.
After nights of trials and do-it-yourself, he has his remote controlled irrigation system. The technology also facilitates the collection and dissemination of meteorological and hydrological data in real time: temperature, soil humidity, rainfall, solar radiation, wind speed. Inclusive of a data storage system, it is also possible to obtain the traceability of climatic data of an area over many years. The farmer thus has all the information required to meet the water needs of his farm no matter the weather conditions and notwithstanding his geographical location.
Farmers are able to save time and energy. This is the end of manual irrigation of farms…in fact farmers, vegetable producers or breeders use this time saved for other activities: for some, manage cattle, clear new land of weeds, grow their produce and thus their business. The system enables them to increase the irrigable land size, increase production and their revenue and control the use of water. This contributes to poverty reduction as well as reduction in green house gas by substituting thermal energy with renewable energy. The concept is revolutionary : the combination of the sun, a resource which is abundant and available all year round in Niger, and the telephone which has a very high penetration rate in Africa (close to 80% and creates traffic for mobile phone operators) is at the core of the remote controlled irrigation. Agriculture and rural areas of the country have become exposed to the digital age, even though the equipment is expensive for the farmers: about 4,000 Euros for the equipment (solar panels, pump, irrigation equipment), a huge budget…
Established in February 2013, the business currently employs about twelve people. It has received prestigious awards: a medal at the Geneva Exhibition of Inventions, King Hassan II World Water Award, 3rd Prize winner for the Young African Business at the New York Africa Forum. Abdou Maman, the Nigerien IT professional now hopes to establish himself in other countries such as Senegal or Ivory Coast… What remains is to find financial partners to grow his business.
For more information:
Interview of Tech-innov founder, Abdou Maman at the 2015 New York Africa Forum
The remote control irrigation video