Imagine living in a village without mobile network coverage. A place where you can hardly make a phone call or send a text message! All this in the 21 century.
Without this crucial service, life presents a range of challenges, including the inability to respond to emergencies and the general disconnect from the global village.
This is what Chebinyiny village in Baringo County has known for years. However, necessity has birthed invention for the locals, who are navigating the network bottleneck with a bottle.The residents have created cut-up bottles, which they use to trap the signal by placing mobile phones in the containers. The science behind the concept is unknown, however, that is the least matter of concern to the residents. As you walk across the area you are likely to spot mobile phones inside cut-up plastic bottles hanging from window frames or trees.
One Magdaline Kipkochil, a resident, explained how they have to climb up in search of good network coverage. She further explained that at times they have to send someone to climb a tree to have a strong signal that sustains a call or sends a message.
“We can even go up the mountain, with our phones inside the cut-up bottles made from used water bottles or used take away soda bottles. At times we could even send someone up the tree just so that we can get access to network coverage,” she stated.
Teachers have also used the innovation to get good access to network coverage in order to facilitate the learning programs such as the Competency-Based Curriculum commonly known as CBC.
However, the residents disclosed that the innovation comes with its challenges such as having to move the bottles to different areas or use new sim cards to access better network signals.
One area resident stated that there is no privacy during communication, as he has to set his phone on loudspeaker or shout when making calls.
“There is no secret because you will have to increase the volume to hear what the other person is saying.”
Another resident stated that saving someone has become a daunting task because they are unable to communicate efficiently.
“We still use old methods of communication such as screaming, we are requesting that we get connected to Kenya because it’s like we are in our own country.”
Isaac Boinet, the area chief stated that the situation presents numerous challenges. He explained that responding to urgent matters takes time and that sometimes -help comes when it is too late.
The locals and their leaders are calling now on mobile phone service providers to boost network coverage in the area and save them from being left behind.