Deodate Mungenzi, a third year student of Information and Technology from the Integrated Polytechnic Regional Centre (IPRC), an institute in Kigali Rwanda has designed a prototype for the most popular messaging phone application WhatsApp.
The prototype, still in its early stages, enables phone users with Whatsapp installed in their phones to make both domestic and international calls to a person on the other sider of the line, without an internet connection. This is a change from the conventional where only WhatsApp users with an internet connection can call WhatsApp users.
A prototype in computer programming, is the first version of software to be released by a programmer with limited functionalities, that will be upgraded later to another stage (beta software) until the final stage which is the complete version of the software.
The 26 year old says that for one to use the system, he has to first register the numbers of both the caller, and the receiver on WhatsApp through his software, and in essence he is using WhatsApp as the platform for his prototype to work.
“The problem is that many people here in Rwanda and other parts of Africa cannot afford to own smartphones that enable them to use all the internet enabled services.” He says to share his motivation for the innovation in an interview he conducted with a Rwandan website.
“I used to have a friend who would always call using WhatsApp and he would request me to take the phone to his parents back in the Eastern Province so that he would talk to them” he added making a point that it is vert diffeicult to call straight on the normal networks.
He says that prototype was a creation from his passion for science and technology.
Currently, he alone can use the software and has been able to communicate to his relatives abroad.
The prototype is not yet at the stage where it can be released to the general public, among the considerations he is making, is to contemplate ways to commercialize his product.
He is currently in talks with mobile internet service providers and telecom operators to come up with an agreement regarding his innovation. Some of these businesses have already shown interest and are making offers to acquire the product.