AfriScout

PCI is revolutionizing the way pastoralists find pasture and water for their animals using the power of satellite and mobile technology. The AfriScout mobile application displays current water and vegetation conditions on localized grazing maps, enabling pastoralists to make more accurate and cost-effective migration decisions, improve pasture management and collaboration, reduce the risk of herd loss, and ultimately transform their lives. 

At a Glance

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About This Innovation

How does your innovation work?

The AfriScout app was designed for pastoralists. We provide specific, local information that complements and respects existing community structures and decision-making processes. The app design and visual language are for anyone with any level of experience with technology. The map information is accurate and available, despite network, energy, data, and battery constraints.

AfriScout app subscribers are able to assess up-to-date vegetation conditions within their grazing areas using the live map display. They can also use the map to locate existing surface water so that during dry seasons they can find ponds and streams that have not dried up. By tapping on a desired location on the map, the app will calculate distance. They can share grazing hazards with other users in their area by posting geolocated alerts on things like animal disease outbreaks, predators, conflicts, or restricted grazing areas. Pastoralists can also look at previous vegetation updates from past months to analyze changes over seasons. 

What Evidence do you have that your Innovation works?

PCI completed a proof of concept that prototyped this innovation by developing the mapping and satellite data integration, then tested our theory by delivering paper based vegitation maps in an Ethiopian pastoral community. After less than one year, nearly 80% of pastoralists reported using the maps for migration decision-making. All users found the maps to be accurate in identifying adequate grazing areas and more than half the respondents felt the maps were now their most important source of information for migration decision-making. Herd mortality rates dropped by an average of 47% for all species of animals after introduction of the maps, as compared to the previous three years in the intervention community. This resulted in a Net Present Value of $5.36 million for the $100,000 investment.

Additional Evidence Documentation

What is your strategy for expanding use of your innovation?

To sustainably manage and maintain the mobile app service and effectively scale it to millions of pastoralists in Africa, PCI has established AfriScout LLC as a subsidiary social enterprise. Assisted by external experts over the past year, PCI explored app monetization models, market readiness, possible risks, and growth potential to build a robust business model which has evolved into AfriScout today. The strong evidence that the paper maps (unpaid for) have provided significant monetary and perceived value to those who have received them led PCI to form a direct revenue or B2C principle business model. After a 6-month free trial, users will pay a fixed annual subscription fee via mobile money. Combined with the rapid increase of mobile broadband coverage and smart phone penetration in Africa, PCI intends to make AfriScout a sustainable enterprise within the next five years.

Next Steps

We plan to launch the AfriScout mobile app in 16 mapped areas by 2019, with an estimated pastoral population coverage of 1.9 million. Based on the availability of smartphones in the target market, our goal is to have 10,000 households as paying subscribers in the 16 areas with a beneficiary population of 75,000 within one year of launch. Since AfriScout is providing some of the first relevant digital content to pastoralists, our objective is to equip key village members in each community we serve with basic digital skills and AfriScout app training to bridge the digital divide and create community-level AfriScout ambassadors. Our key business objectives to achieve these goals in the next year are to finish mapping in Kenya, establish the pricing structure and payment channel, recruit and train community marketers and ambassadors, continue app maintenance and testing, and create key partnerships with Mobile Network Operators and relevant market actors.
 

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