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February 10, 2009

Nokia launches information service for farmers in Kenya

by Brian Adero

Nokia is launching a new service to offer prompt weather and agriculture related information to farmers to enhance their preparedness in ensuring optimal food production.

Through the Nokia Life Tools, rural based communities and persons living in small towns will now be able to receive regular updates on climatic changes; farm input and farm produce prices on their mobile phones, empowering them to make quick and informed decisions that will enhance their productivity.

Through partnerships with organizations like the Kenya Meterological Department regular tips can be sent to farmers, through Nokia Life Tools, on changing weather patterns, while agro-based organizations could provide information to help farmers update farming techniques or indicate prevailing market conditions that could help prevent future food shortages. Nokia will work with local and regional organizations to provide the local content required that will be sent through the Nokia devices.

Information on weather, prices of seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and prevailing market prices can be sent directly to the farmers’ mobile device. The information for the produce is customized to the farmer’s location and his/her choice of crop.

The Nokia Life Tools service simply uses an icon-based, graphically rich user interface that comes complete with tables and which can even display information simultaneously in two languages. Behind this rich interface, SMS is used to deliver the critical information to ensure that this service works wherever a mobile phone does, without the hassles of additional settings or the need for GPRS coverage.

In-depth research and Nokia consumer insights have shown that the internet and information services in an infrastructure-constrained environment can offer improved earnings, learning and improved quality of life.

The expansion of mobile coverage to smaller towns and rural areas, make it possible to deliver relevant information to consumers and empower them to make informed decisions. For example, information delivered in sync with cropping cycle of that season can become a useful tool with significant potential to enhance productivity and earnings.

“Nokia Life Tools are timely as they aim to bring the power of the Internet to this market for more preparedness in every area. By filling in the information gaps in agriculture and education at the entry level of the mobile device market, Nokia strives to contribute towards empowering people with the right tools to make confident decisions in their daily lives,” says Gerard Brandjes, General Manager for Nokia East and Southern Africa.

In addition, Nokia Life Tools is not just about productivity and empowerment; it is also about some fun. Entertainment is just a click away with ringtones, daily horoscopes, local news and trivia.

In 2002, Nokia unveiled a strategy to lower the cost of owning and operating a mobile phone and to bring the benefits of mobile telephony to people in emerging markets.

“The mobile device and the Internet are a powerful combination in connecting people with each other, accessing information, news, entertainment and sharing. By introducing products and services that are affordable, relevant and easy-to-use, we believe Nokia can fuel the growth of the Internet and the economy at large in East Africa through mobility,” added Brandjes.

Nokia Life Tools service will be available in the first half of 2009 with the Nokia range of affordable devices that include, Nokia 2320 classic, Nokia 2323 classic and the Nokia 2330 classic as the lead devices.

Estimated retail prices of the new devices range from 25 to 90 EUR (Ksh. 2,500 to Ksh. 9,000) before applicable duties and taxes.

The first services Nokia is offering in emerging markets will focus on email, agriculture and education, which based on consumer feedback, present the strongest demand in emerging markets. The education services in Nokia Life tools can help improve English language skills and general knowledge. Exam preparation, career tips and access to exam results are some of the possibilities in future.

The pilot service was launched in the Maharashtra region in December 2008. Nokia plans to roll-out the commercial service across the rest of India in the first half of 2009, and will be extended to select countries in Africa and Asia later.

IT News Africa

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