OkHi has built a mobile app for smart phones that combines geolocation with an image of a door or gate to create an address. Nairobi has entire neighborhoods where the streets have no names and where people don’t have an address. OkHi is on a mission to change that.
The man with the plan is Timbo Drayson – co-founder and CEO of OkHi. Before becoming an entrepreneur, he was working for Google and was part of a team building its developer ecosystem in Africa and the Middle East. During a sabbatical Timbo travelled around Africa to immerse himself in and better understand the ecosystems that he worked with at Google. And it was an inspiring journey where Timbo got to experience a range of issues first hand – and meet the people trying to solve them. One issue seemed to tower above the rest – the issues faced by the millions of Africans who do not have an address.
“At ABC turn left down, then first right after 50 meters on to Manyani Road. Go straight straight straight until the end, through barrier, turn right, we’re second house on the left. Look after red radar sign.” This is what an ‘address’ typically sounds like in parts of Nairobi – and similar directions will be given in Lagos, Kampala, Dar Es Salaam, Kinshasa, Luanda, and many other big African cities.
And co-founder Wes Chege can testify to that – he knows the issue very well. “My mom’s address is a set of text directions. Which is ‘After the market you turn right at the security sign and then you look for the orange gate’. That means that she cannot access critical services. There’s no post to her and in case of an emergency I can trust an ambulance to get to her on time,” says Wes.