Solving Africa’s Water Crisis with IoT

IoT Leaders with James Kay Chief Operating Officer at eWATERservices and Nick Earle, CEO at Eseye.

You can find stories of the positive impacts of enhanced connectivity anywhere.

The work of eWATERservices — installing safe, affordable and accessible water systems in communities across sub-Saharan Africa — is a great example of IoT’s power to meaningfully shape people’s lives.

eWATERservices Chief Operations Officer James Kay talks about the immense challenges some people face every day to get what many typically take for granted: clean water. James dives into: 

  1. Why the traditional non-governmental organization (NGO) model of providing water to communities in need doesn’t work.
  2. How eWATERservices overcame hardware design issues to bring clean, safe water to sub-Saharan Africa.
  3. The biggest obstacle to scaling eWATERservices and how the carbon credit model could uproot it.

Listen to this episode to learn about how Eseye partnered with eWATERservices to give sub-Saharan African villages water they can rely on and why connectivity can often be the difference between life and death.

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You are listening to IoT Leaders, a podcast from Eseye that shares real IoT stories from the field about digital transformation, swings and misses, lessons learned, and innovation strategies that work. In each episode, you’ll hear our conversations with top digitization leaders on how IoT is changing the world for the better. Let IoT leaders be your guide to IoT digital transformation and innovation. Let’s get into the show!

Nick Earle:

Hi, this is Nick Earle, the CEO of Eseye, and this week in our IoT Leaders Podcast, we’re going to be talking about water, specifically the provision of on-demand clean water to a quarter of a million people in Sub-Saharan Africa. I’m going to be talking to James Kay. James is the COO of eWATER. They’ve been going for about eight years, and they challenge the status quo.

They said that the current model of charities, and NGOs, putting water taps into Africa and then leaving does not work, and it doesn’t work for the very simple reason that there is no maintenance model. There’s no money to pay for maintenance, and so what happens is the taps get damaged, animals knock them over, trucks drive into them, and even in one case, as you’ll hear, the bees took over, and when they pull the handle, out comes honey and not water. And so therefore you have to have a paid-for model at the point of distribution, and you have to do it through mobile money and you have to use that money to pay for the maintenance model, which keeps the tap working.

It’s a great technology story, but also probably the best bit of the podcast, which you’re about to listen to, is the difference it makes to people’s lives. And when you hear how millions of people today get their water, it’s very humbling, and it is just amazing that something we take for granted, as you turn the tap and clean water comes out, is certainly not the case in areas of the world like this. Anyway, this company is actually doing it, and their goal is to change the lives of a million people by 2028.

So enough of me. Let’s start now with the podcast with James Kay, the COO of eWATER. I hope you enjoy this. Here we go.

So, James, welcome to the IoT Leaders Podcast.

James Kay:

Thank you very much. Very nice to be here.

Nick Earle:

And really looking forward to this one, because it’s such a great story, and making a huge contribution to people’s lives and, indeed, their health. So before we get into that, maybe we can just find out a little bit about you. What’s your background and how did you end up at eWATERservices?

James Kay:


Well, I have been at eWATER for three years now and have been running their operations since the start of that. I originally grew up in lots of different countries. My dad worked for an oil company, so we were moving around every couple of years. So I grew up in parts of East Africa, South America, and the Middle East. So Sudan, Yemen, Egypt, Peru, lots and lots of moving around. But that sowed the seed, particularly the East Africa element, which was just a huge part of my upbringing.

So that was me growing up. I studied engineering at Oxford and loved it. I love problem-solving and that’s what led me into operations, every day are different kinds of problems. I spent seven years in a consultancy firm learning how to solve problems better. I worked in hospitals, I worked in dockyards on aircraft carriers, helping hospital operating theaters to see more patients, reduce delays, and ultimately reduce waiting lists. Worked on aircraft carriers, and nuclear submarines, to help build them more quickly, more efficiently. And absolutely loved that, but it was all UK-based and my heart, as I said, was stuck in East Africa.

So actually through that consulting firm, I met Alison Wedgwood, and she’s one of the co-founders and our CEO, and I’d been in touch with that. I actually volunteered for eWATER back in 2015 for a couple of weeks, I went out to The Gambia and got a taste of what we were trying to do. But then joined officially three years ago, and I’ve loved it ever since. It’s been massively challenging, but a really, really enjoyable, fulfilling role.

Nick Earle:

Well, there’s enough material in that intro for about seven podcasts, but maybe the… Well, two quick things. You talked about Alison, Alison Wedgwood, the CEO, and in case people don’t know, and probably don’t know, yes, that is Wedgwood as in the Wedgwood Pottery Firm, which was founded by relatives way back, but still going. Very successful brand. You also talked about solving problems, and this problem is probably the biggest one yet because we’re talking about the provision of on-demand, clean water, at the point of requirement, to hundreds of millions of people in Africa. So talk about a problem to get your teeth into. So let’s get into that.

Before we talk about how you’re doing that at eWATER, maybe you could just educate people. How, today, do people in remote communities get water? Because it’s quite a story, isn’t it? Let’s assume for the moment there isn’t a tap in the village. So how do they get fresh water today?

James Kay:

Sure. Well, just as a starting point, I think when I speak to family and friends about this, a lot of their initial reaction is, “Well, why hasn’t this been solved yet? Surely people have access to water.” And the sad fact is that 80% of people in Sub-Saharan Africa still don’t have access to a reliable source of clean water.

Nick Earle:


James Kay:

80%, which is staggering considering how much effort has gone into it, considering how much money charities pour into it. So we can come onto that a little bit later, but just to answer your question, the average situation, and obviously there’s huge variation within that, but you go to a generic village somewhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, people are generally collecting their water by hand. So water collection is done manually carrying two 20-liter jerrycans or buckets. That water can often be between one and about five kilometers away.

The collection is predominantly done by young girls in the family. So most of the people who are collecting water are young females. That obviously has a huge impact if they’re having to do that two, or three times a day. It’s three hours out of their day sacrificing their education, for example. And for me, it’s when you actually meet and see some of this in action, you see a young girl walking by herself, kilometers away from the village, sometimes in the dark. They’re carrying basically 40 kilos of water by themselves, and having to do that every single day, day in, day out. And to top it all, that water is likely from an incredibly unsafe source. So it’s either a hand-dug well, which has all kinds of risks of pollution. It can be river water, it can be canal water, but it has a really high likelihood, and there’s a really high prevalence still, of deadly waterborne diseases such as cholera.

Nick Earle:


James Kay:

If they’re getting clean water, sorry, just to finish up, there are options available, but you generally pay a lot for it. And with that come some people access go and buy bottles of water, for example, or they’ll buy in West Africa, in particular these plastic sachets. But if you’re getting all of your water in that way, there’s obviously a huge plastic cost as well. It might be safe, but it’s incredibly expensive, and obviously pretty terrible for the environment as well.

Nick Earle:

Just the thought of a young girl carrying 40 kg, anyone who goes to the gym, 40 kg is a hell of a weight. And as you say, they might be doing it two or three times a day at eight years old.

James Kay:

And in 40-degree heat, on dirt roads, with not-great shoes. It’s horrible…

Nick Earle:

Things that we take for granted.

So let’s talk about the traditional way of solving this, because you’re a non-traditional solution, and I think that’s the key to this, because typically the world of charities, and NGOs, a ton of money gets raised. People pledge money, donate money, and the NGOs say, “Well, we’ll install a hundred, 200,000 taps in Africa to solve this problem. We throw money at it, we’ll put the taps in. There’s aquifers under the village, so we’ll put a tap in the village and we’ll solve it.” And that’s been the dominant model for a long time.

But you say that doesn’t work. And I know when we were talking in advance, that was a real eye-opener for me as to why it doesn’t work. So maybe you want to talk a little bit about why the NGO charity model doesn’t work to solve this problem.

James Kay:


And I suppose to back that up with some figures as well, there’s about $10 billion that goes into water systems every single year in Sub-Saharan Africa, but the harsh statistic is that 40% of those fail within two years, and the rest of them fail soon afterward. And again, if you go into a lot of these villages where you see the girl walking kilometers to go and get water from the river, there’s often a broken water system in the village and it’s got a sign on, it says, “Installed by X charity in this year.” And it was all singing, all dancing as a system when it was installed, but it’s broken.

And the biggest problem in the old model is that there is not really any plan to keep those systems going. And it’s a complicated system. If you’re running this on solar power with a pump that’s high voltage, there are tens of kilometers of pipework, there are all the different distribution points, and there are so many things that can go wrong.

The old model is to basically take a $200,000 complicated water system and hand it over to the community and say, “We’ll give you a few days training, but basically this is your responsibility to keep running now.” And that as a model is just something that we do not accept in any service anywhere else in the world. You look at the internet, water provision, mobile phones, electricity, if someone came to me and stuck a 5G mast in my village and said, “Right now we’re going to hand it over to the local post.” We just wouldn’t accept it, because it would be bound to fail. And yet somehow we think that that is…

Nick Earle:

Job done, take the photograph in front of the sign and use it to raise more money and…

James Kay:

And install more systems elsewhere.

Nick Earle:

More systems will fail within two years. And the fundamental problem, it’s not the lack of goodwill, or good intent, or money, or a provision of water. There’s plenty of water. It’s interesting the way you’re identifying the fundamental problem. The fundamental problem is the business model. It’s this concept, isn’t it? That water should be free, and therefore you get money from elsewhere in the rest of the world, and then you pay for something, and then you leave it, and you go away.

And I know that when you and your founders looked at this, you had this different approach where you said, “No, you have to create an economic model for the maintenance.” And that was the big “Aha!” Which is that it has to be paid for. And you gave me a stat, which I thought was interesting, was that in general, people, even though it’s Sub-Saharan Africa, people, of course, they have money, we’ll get onto how they pay when we talk about mobile money, but they will pay an amount of money per week, per month, or whatever for water. That’s perfectly accepted. People will pay, especially for clean water, as you were saying.

James Kay:

Well, and more than that, as I said before, eight in 10 of them have mobile phones, so eight in 10 people are also paying mobile phone bills. They’re paying for access to Facebook, and TikTok. So just to jump ahead a little bit, we’re talking a very small amount of money. It’s between $3 and $7 a year for a person to access the water system. We try and benchmark that against a monthly mobile phone bill in that area, so we are basically charging for a year of water what a lot of people will pay per month for their data on their mobile phones.

Generally speaking, that is… If you offered a mother with three or four kids, “You can have free water, but by the way, you’re going to have to walk miles for it. It might make you very ill/one of your children might unfortunately die. Or, “Pay this amount, and we will guarantee that the water will be there 24/7. We guarantee that it will be clean, we guarantee it’ll be fixed when it breaks.” Everybody takes that deal. It’s a sensible thing.

Nick Earle:

Okay, so it all sounds very intuitive. It sounds very obvious in a way, but I know, because eWATER and ourselves, Eseye, have been partners for many, many years, and we’ll get into exactly how we co-created the solution. But I know that it wasn’t easy and it is an IoT project, but it was particularly challenging IoT project, and I know there were a number of hurdles that you had to… design objectives for any system based on your experience on the ground in Sub-Saharan Africa and the learnings from the systems that fail. There were a number of learnings that you had, so what were the key design objectives for any new solution, other than the provision of a tap, take the photograph, and disappear, model, as I call it?

James Kay:

Well, I suppose it’s actually a good time to also introduce our other co-founder, a guy called Rob. So he’s our CTO, he’s our Technology Officer. He and Alison actually met before the founding of eWATER. Alison’s background was in water projects, so she’d seen all of these failures of the old charity model and Rob’s background is in technology, so he describes himself as a visionary, but he’s an incredibly creative guy who brings technology to solve problems.

So they were looking at this and basically trying to come up with how to solve it. The key things that we had to solve were we wanted to provide water 24/7, we wanted it to be available to people. We target that to be within 250 meters of the households in the village, so we have to have lots of distribution points all around the village so that people are only walking up to 250 meters.

Nick Earle:

Which is a big change from the three to 4K, or whatever it was that you were talking about previously.

James Kay:


24/7 and easy access was obviously a key bit. We needed to get data back from whatever it was, and that was predominantly, actually, a maintenance decision at the time, because if you can get data back, you can tell when something’s gone wrong with the system, and then you can get a technician to fix it.

The third one was you’ve mentioned the economic model. We had to work out a way to make that work, getting people to the point where they’re happy to pay for the provision of clean water, and making sure that that can efficiently go back into keeping the system running and maintaining it. The economic model was really important.

And then fourthly was transparency, making sure that we were really clear that everybody pays the same price. You pay for exactly what you use, you pay the same fair price, there’s no ability to fiddle with it, or get mate rates, or for some of the revenue to maybe potentially disappear into someone’s pocket. We needed to make sure that it was secure and transparent so that we could take all of that money and put it back into maintenance and basically keep the system running.

Nick Earle:

And maybe that gives me the opportunity to say how Eseye got involved, and regular listeners to the podcast will know that we don’t just do the connectivity, the SIM card part of the connectivity. Although I would say in this particular use case, that’s a particularly challenging use case, because we’re talking about Sub-Saharan Africa and the ability to have a hundred percent connectivity for every tap no matter where it is. So you have to have the multi-IMSI solution that we have the ability to basically connect to any operator from a single e-SIM, a single SKU, which we talked about a lot. So that’s one of the things that we did.

But also here there was a hardware design issue because what eWATER needed, of course, you already had a comms board, but from recollection what you were doing regarding the payment was somebody would have this token, which is like a disk isn’t it? Looks like a small disk. Oh, if those of you are watching on video, he’s holding up, James is holding up a blue eWATER tag, or a disk. So it’s like the size of a large coin. And you had to go to a shop, didn’t you, and buy credits and top them up on the disk and then go back?

But what you wanted to do is have bi-direction, not only a hundred percent connectivity anywhere in Sub-Saharan Africa, one of the most challenging connectivity use cases you’ll find, but also the ability to have a new device that did bidirectional communication so that you could pay for the credits and have the tap do the work. Maybe you can talk about how that system works. If I’m a villager, somebody in a village where there is an eWATER tap, how does the system work today?

James Kay:


So, anybody can sign up and they can basically get registered for a tag. So they get given one of these NFC tags. They’re pretty robust, solid plastic, and they work on the same technology as the Oyster card in the UK for example. That gets registered to you, so your mobile phone number, and your name, are then on our system. That is then your way to access water. So you can top this up in all manner of different ways. The biggest and most rapidly growing way to do that in Africa is mobile money, which is an incredible system that I wish we had in the UK, where you can basically manage money on your phone via text messages, but via a really simple system, you can pay for a chapati in a local store, you can pay for your bills, electricity bills, but key for us is you can top up your eWATER tag.

There are other ways as well. So we still have… If anybody’s got an NFC phone, we basically set up resellers in various villages who can then take the money and top your tag up via their phone. But as I said, mobile money is the simplest, and everybody uses it for everything in the countries we work in. So you top your tag up, and then basically you can walk up to any water tap anywhere in the world, you put your tag on the tap, and it’ll actually hold it there magnetically. And as soon as you’ve done that, it takes a couple of seconds just to check that there’s credit, and basically then it opens a valve, water starts coming out, and then you take the tag off once you’re done, and the water stops. You are charged for exactly what you use, and only what you use, and that basically is it. It’s no more complicated than that.

Nick Earle:

And I mentioned two-way communication, and unlike the Oyster card, actually, you top your tag up with your phone, but the tag hasn’t got… If you’re not using the NFC on your phone, the tag hasn’t got the new credits on it. But when you go to the tap and you push it against the sensor, if you’ve just bought, I don’t know, 50 credits, it loads the 50 credits on your tap, gives you the water, and then takes one token off the tag, one credit off the tag to pay for the what you’ve just got. So it does the whole thing.

And I was going to say, unlike the Oyster card where, when I go through the tube if I put my Oyster card on the reader to go through the tube, it says “not enough money.” It doesn’t let me through. I may have eight people behind me at rush hour. I’ve got to get out of the queue, go to the other part of the tube station. “Sorry, sorry, sorry.” Go to the other part of the tube station. Queue up again, put 50 pounds, or 30 pounds, whatever on my Oyster card, which is a bit of a process. Then I go back and have to go through. You’re lucky if you can do that in five minutes, frankly.

But not only is the mobile money more advanced and very, very easy, but actually paying for it is very, very easy. And I know we worked hard. I decided to design that comms model for you, including many visits out there to the region to make it work. It’s one of our projects that we’re the most proud of because it is solving such an important need, as you said, about how the systems work today.

Maybe I can just come back to the maintenance issue. The money system pays for the maintenance. Maintenance is key to this, isn’t it? You run your own maintenance engineers, is that right?

James Kay:

So we employ, or we partner with, local technicians. So all of the maintenance of our systems is done in the country, obviously, but it’s local technicians who report to us. We hold them to account, and we obviously have and give them access to, the dashboards that ultimately get a load of data from the taps, and from other sensors within the eWATER world tank height sensors, and bulk flow meters, and that thing. And that basically allows us to say there’s a problem in that system or there’s a problem in that tap, we can then send technicians, we can allocate jobs to them and make sure that they’re doing that and ultimately stick to our promise, to keep the water flowing 24/7. And when big things go wrong, we have to move very, very quickly to go and fix them as quickly as possible.

Nick Earle:

And talking of things going wrong, I’m sure you must have some interesting stories of when you’ve been out there to visit taps, things that have gone wrong. Are there any stories that you can share of things that you’ve seen?

James Kay:

Literally anything. You talked about some of the challenges that Eseye and we faced in trying to design this tap. Physical robustness is top, given the environment it’s trying to operate in. The outside temperatures can get up to 45 degrees C, but the inside of a box that’s sitting in the sun, in a block of concrete can get up to 60, 70 degrees. You then have everything that the African context can throw at it.

You get, literally last week there have been loads of rain in Kenya, a load of the roads have started to get incredibly rutted, and then the local government sent a grader through, but they were grading through really loose slushy mud, and they graded too low, and they ripped up a load of the pipework. We have things like animals, cows backing into taps and knocking them clean out of the ground. We had a great one where we actually found that some bees had set up a hive inside a tap, so they opened the tap and literally honey started coming out from the inside of it.

Nick Earle:

Honey, rather than water, that sounds difficult.

James Kay:

Vehicles drive into the water tank.

Nick Earle:

In reverse.

James Kay:

We had a tank collapse in The Gambia a long time ago, but all of this stuff, it’s a daily challenge to us, but it is… If any one of those things happens in the old model, the charity model, that’s it. Rip up a pipe, all the water gets dumped, and there’s no water. They won’t know about it for days, potentially weeks, and then they’ve got to try and get the money together. They’ve got to try and work out what’s wrong because they’re not connected to the internet. It takes months and months to fix it, and invariably actually doesn’t get fixed. We know about it almost immediately. We send some technicians there, we have the parts in the country. We just fix it. We take accountability for it and we just fix it.

Nick Earle:

And just to prove that, again, I’m actually on your dashboard now and I don’t know how many hundreds of liters have been dispensed since we started recording, but it’s quite a few. And you’ve got in the bottom left of your dashboard there, 97% of taps are working. So one of the key things you do measure is what you said right at the beginning, is what percentage of taps are actually working right now?

And that data, as you just pointed out, is data that, in the model, which is $10 billion worth of charitable donations model, they don’t have any of that information, and people probably don’t report it, and therefore they think they’ve got all these taps out there and actually most of them aren’t working. So this is as much an economic model innovation as it is a technical innovation story. So I think it’s a really, really good one. And as I said, we’re really proud. We’ve been partners for many years.

Where I wanted to go, maybe as we finish here, is I’m sure a lot of people are thinking this is what would it take to really scale this? I can see from your dashboard you’re in about four countries, it seems pretty obvious, but when you get on the ground there, and you talk to the governments locally, sometimes you get resistance to this. Don’t you? Maybe talk a little bit about that.

James Kay:

Definitely. Well, a big part of the problem is that we are competing with free. We are competing with free, but very poorly performing and have proven to fail. And the frustrating thing is that charities are still going around installing systems under the old model. And we’ve got villages where we are actually in, and providing a service to, where charities, because they have to hit their quota of installations, have then come in and said… They basically just install the free system right next to the same village as one of our systems. And we talk to the villagers and we say, “This is a real problem, because if everybody’s getting their water free, it means they’re not going to be getting it from our system, and therefore there’s no money to pay for the maintenance teams.”

And they get that. But the answer, as always is, “We know this is going to fail. We know the free system will fail, but we’ll take it for now because they provided it free. We’ll use it for two years, and then, oh, by the way, eWATER, we’d love you to come back.” And that is a real problem for us, because we’re trying to make the economic model… We’re trying to keep the price of water as low as possible, and to do that, you have to keep the revenue going to be able to pay for the maintenance, so a two-year gap is just an impossible economic decision.

But the big problem in that is that charities… And they are getting better. I can’t broad brush, there are certain groups who are taking a forward foot, finally, in understanding that free is actually just a terrible model generally, but it’s a hurdle. It’s a hurdle for them to get over. It’s a hurdle sometimes for communities to get over who might have had free water free, but terrible, water for a long time. And then governments as well. Find me a politician who wouldn’t get excited by the prospect of installing a load of free water systems.

Nick Earle:

Because it looks good. It’s a bit like their dashboard rather than yours. Their dashboard says, “We’ve got so many taps” and they’re up for election and people vote for them, they’ve accepted free. And it’s a fascinating challenge, because it is actually an educational challenge, isn’t it, that you’ve got?

James Kay:

Well, it’s just incredibly short-term. That’s the biggest problem with the whole previous model is it’s just so focused on the short term, “Let’s get water now, but let’s not think about anything longer term.” The contracts we are signing now are a minimum of 10 years. So we say that we are going to provide water for a minimum of 10 years, and if they’re happy with the service after the 10 years, then we’ll happily sign another contract for that.

It’s all about setting these things up so that they last. And you’re right, there’s an education thing. I’d say we have got a lot better at it, at having that conversation, and also just going where that conversation is easier. We’re expanding really rapidly in Kenya at the moment, and in part that’s because there’s just a really great supporting environment. There’s really phenomenal mobile money penetration, which makes everything easier. But also the interactions we’ve had with the government there, and county governments in particular, they’re very forward-thinking. And they’ve seen the free systems, they’ve got so many of them sitting around that are completely broken and have been broken for a long time, and they get the model. And that, I think, is going to be a bit of a game changer once we start to prove that these systems are around. Our oldest systems are now eight years old, but if we can prove in Kenya, for example, that these systems stick around and provide good service for a long time, I feel like that will snowball and that will certainly be one of the biggest hurdles.

The other one is funding. It’s always funding. It’s just to explain the economic model of a system is we try and make it circular. People pay for their water low price that pays for maintenance, but what that will never pay for is the CapEx of the system, which can be anywhere from $100,000 to $300,000. So the funding for that has to come from somewhere else. We generally have either sponsors or high-net-worth individuals who want to put in X number of taps or X number of systems.

You’ll see, potentially, on our dashboard, or you might see some of the pictures of the taps, they have sponsor logos on them. So that is a way that we’ve been generating funding in the past, but we are constrained by that at points, and more funding is always a good thing.

We’re also starting to look at other economic models to try and fund that capital expenditure, one of which is carbon credits, which is quite exciting. We’re at the start of it and still working out exactly how to do it, but for me if we can get that to work, that could fundamentally change the way we’re able…

Nick Earle:

Absolutely. And we’re hoping to do a podcast in the future on carbon credits, but essentially carbon credits offer the promise of actually being paid to create an IoT product, because if you can prove that you are offsetting, in your case, burning wood, or charcoal, or something that you see, as you say, you see people selling it at the side of the road, fuel at the side of the road. But if you can say, “Well, by using a system you don’t have to burn wood or charcoal to purify the water, then you could potentially create a carbon credit.”

And again, a little bit from a technology point of view of what we did in previous podcasts, we’ve talked about AnyNet SMARTconnect, which is Eseye’s in-device application, which can be used to actually encrypt the data and have intelligence inside the device for the switching. So actually one of the use cases that SMARTconnect was based on and actually came out of was eWATER, the idea of having intelligent switching.

So you’ve always got a hundred percent in these countries of connectivity because I think there’s, I’ve said this before, there’s about 50 countries in Africa and they’ve each got three mobile network operators. So, sounds great. There are 150 network operators, bad news is none of them want to give traffic to anybody else. So you’ve got to actually be able to be completely agnostic, not have a dog in the fight, and actually switch between all of them. That’s a problem that we solve. It’s one of the things that we’re most famous for.

But out of that intelligent switching at the device, not in the cloud, which it has to be done at the device, you have to sense what networks are available, multi-IMSI, came SMARTconnect, and now SMARTconnect has the ability to start doing the public-private key encryption, which means that when you send the data over an APN, you can actually prove, like a private blockchain model, you can actually prove that the data hasn’t been tampered with. And if you can prove the data hasn’t been tampered with, then actually you can get a good price for your carbon credit, because the price of a credit varies.

In the use case, wind farms do big expensive credits and things like taps will do cheaper credits. But within one category, like a tap, the price will vary based on, whether can you prove the data has high integrity? Can you prove the provenance of the data? Can you prove the auditability of the data in its path from the tap to the exchange? So there’s lots of opportunities here. And the Holy Grail would be almost a new form of funding where you start selling credits on the basis that you’re not putting particulates into the air because people are burning less wood and charcoal. That’s extremely exciting, and it’s something which, obviously, we’re very keen on working with you on going forward, and we think it’s one of the big, big things that’s going to happen in IoT in the next two, three years. But maybe that’s the next podcast we do if we can crack that one.

But anyway, in the meantime, James, it’s a wonderful case study, not just from a technology point of view, but from a contribution to society. One of the comments that you made just to finish, is you said that the company’s been going eight years. You also said that often it’s something like an eight-year-old girl who’s going to get the water several times a day.

I’ve got to believe, and maybe this is a suggestion for your website, maybe it’s already there, I just haven’t found it. I’ve got to believe that there could be some wonderful human stories of perhaps girls now who are 16 years old, and in education or whatever, who haven’t had the walk to get the water, but instead, we’re able to get educated, and now improving their life, and looking after their families, because there will be probably hundreds if not thousands of teenagers now whose lives have been transformed by what you and your company have done.

And for that, I think we all owe you our thanks for the contribution that you’re making to their health and their well-being and that of their family. It must be a wonderful business to be in.

James Kay:

It is definitely. It is enormously rewarding. As I said earlier, and as you probably understood, well you know from working with us, it is incredibly challenging. And if it was easy, it would’ve been solved already and other people would be doing it. We’ve reached a quarter of a million people, just under a quarter of a million people so far, again you can see on our dashboard. Our aim is to get to a million new people by 2028. And that’s our challenge. There are a lot of individual stories, and when we go, it’s just the best thing going into an eWATER village that’s been running for a while, and talking to people, and hearing some of those stories.

Nick Earle:

I bet it is.

What a great way to finish and a great ambition is to change the lives of a million people by 2028. I don’t think we’ve had a podcast that’s finished on a quote like that before, so I’m going to stop it here, because it doesn’t get better than that.

James, it’s been absolutely wonderful. It’s a great story. I’m sure listeners will love this podcast. Thank you for being a customer of Eseye, and thank you for what you do, you and your company, for people’s lives out there, and what, indeed, you’re probably going to do in the future going forward to change the model so that more and more lives can be transformed.

So thanks again. Thanks for being our guest on the IoT Leaders podcast.

James Kay:

It’s been an absolute pleasure. Thanks very much.


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