Employing 17% of Senegal’s workforce and providing 70% of the nation’s animal-based protein, Senegal’s fisheries affect food security, economic growth, and the livelihoods of fishers, processors, and other value-chain actors. Nearly 90% of all fishing in this coastal country is done by artisanal fishers, who either sell to small-scale entrepreneurs (mostly women) or directly to wholesale fish markets. It’s a grueling routine, but technology is making life a lot easier – and profitable – for them.
This is because they have found a friend and guide in the Android-based smartphone app Wireless Solution for Fishery in Senegal (WISE), which strengthens small business viability and livelihood opportunities in artisanal fishing and processing. Developed jointly by Qualcomm® Wireless Reach™, non-profit FHI 360, and Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), WISE was built to enhance the lives of Senegalese fisher folk. “Improving fisheries – which make up 2% of the country’s GDP – is a key government strategy to reduce unemployment, increase exports, and improve food security,” says Berhane Gebru, Director of Programs, FHI 360 TechLab.
The app uses wireless connectivity and GPS to provide fisher folk direct access to market information, navigational resources, and weather updates. TCS also added a feature to WISE that allows fisher folk to add information on rocks, sunken ships, and coral reefs to help prevent damage to nets. WISE informs the community about international borders, wave height, visibility, wind speed, and wind direction at different times of the day. In addition to price discovery, the app also has payment reminders and EMI calculators built-in.
Feedback from project participants has been positive – most have reported an annual income increase of $500 thanks to the app, with monthly fish processing going up from 100 kg to 1,000 kg. This has also boosted the confidence of the local women. “The additional income I get as a result of this project is enabling me to pay school fees for my children, and save some money for emergencies,” says Mpho Diop, a fish processor from Mballing. Today, over 4,200 men and women from the Senegalese fishing community access WISE.
“The additional income I get as a result of this project is enabling me to pay school fees for my children.”