Senegal is a Sahelian country located in Western Africa with a national territory of 196,722 km² and a population estimated at 13.6 million, at 50% rural. Despite a stable political context, Senegal’s poverty has only slowly decreased in the last few years, while the poverty gap between Dakar and rural areas has widened. 
Country-wide, 65% of the population does not have access to electricity and 28% of the population does not have access to improved water, while 91% of the population has mobile coverage. GSMA estimates that the water addressable market (i.e. the number of people with GSM coverage but without access to clean water) is over half a million people.
How Manobi Uses Mobile Technology to improve Water Service Delivery
Water usage is currently improperly recorded in Senegal, using papers or no justification at all, limiting the efficient management of water services and maintenance. In addition, as investment in water supply is diminishing, Manobi SA believes that the monitoring and evaluation system they offer will strengthen and make investments sustainable.
Established in 2001, Manobi is based in Dakar, with branches in other countries of West Africa: Mali, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Niger and Burkina Faso. Based on innovation and development, Manobi succeeded in establishing itself as a pioneer of web-mobile services.
With a long and established experience on the grounds, Manobi links the large structures of different sectors (ministries, NGOs, telecom operators, multinational) with the smaller players (households, individuals, farmers, fishermen, cooperatives, associations, traders).
mWater platform for water access and management
In 2007, the company created the mWater web platform to support the development of access to water and its responsible self-management by consumers and operators in peri-urban and rural areas.
The mWater service allows water utilities to:
- Remotely control water service deliver and improve the management of, water usage, daily operations as well as the maintenance of the network
- Provide a billing system, enabling a healthy financial state, which in turn encourages investment
- Provide a mapping of communities’ water points
- Know their customers’ water consumption and better assess the demand
In Senegal, there are 14 water utilities for 50 villages using mWater Pro, which means approximately 40,000 people impacted, and 63.000 people including those served with mWater basic.
Example of mWater usage in Ndindy village
Under the SEN 026 Project – Programme for Access to clean drinkable water and sanitation in the rural areas of Thiès and Louga, in line with the Programme for clean water and Sanitation for the Millenium (PEPAM) – a water forage was installed in Ndindy in 2011.
The Village had one communal fountain and 8 individual fountains installed and financed by NGO Lux Dev in July 2013. Manobi monitors those 2 types of water sources.
Individual fountains (locked when not in use), are most often placed in the houses’ courtyard and are shared with the neighbours, in exchange for a small fee.
Manobi’s implementation process to be able to provide their service to the community is as follows:
- Registration of a village water sources following the demand of an institutional or non-governmental body (up to 3 days). The registration includes the mapping of water points, the registration of every villagers and a picture of both villagers and water points.
- The water community agent is provided with a simple feature mobile phone, which is paid for by the water utility.
- The agent is in charge of monitoring the water usage and touring villages to check clients’ water points. In Senegal, this is done once a month; in Benin it is done every two weeks for individual points and once a week for communal fountains.
The water community agent logs the amount of water dispensed by the village and sends it by SMS to update the platform (see image above) every other day. Since September 2013 (when the village was registered) the community has consumed 2,612 m³.
- The client will call the agent to report a problem (leakage, ect.) who will in turn enter the issue by SMS to be logged onto the platform and monitored.
The challenges Manobi’s mWater service is answering to the lack of proper performance monitoring and evaluation of water systems.
The service will be paid for through the payment of the mWater’s monthly billing service – a one-time 10,000 FCFA (USD20) subscription fee and 150 FCFA (USD 0.30) per bill – which provides the water association with information on the village’s water consumption, gaps, improvements, problems, etc.
Other services offered
Specializing in value chains optimization, Manobi uses integrated geographical information systems and web-mobile convergence to offer domain-specific solutions: mAgri for Agriculture, mSludge for Sanitation, mSchool for education, breaking the cycle of poverty.
Challenges and Next Steps
Manobi is constantly thinking of how it can improve in innovative ways their services and tackle challenges of West Africa, whether in the water, sanitation or agricultural sectors.
In January, Manobi hopes to launch the deployment of mWater in DR Congo for all 62 million people, and mSludge for 1.2 million people in Dakar suburbs.