LBS MBA weather station improves livelihoods in Africa

MBA unveils solar-powered weather station on International Earth Day

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A London Business School MBA student has today unveiled an innovative social impact venture helping to improve the livelihoods and food security of smallholder farmers in Africa.

London Business School MBA student Tom Vanneste is one of three co-founders of Kukua, a social impact venture which provides accurate weather forecasting data to rural farmers in Africa through weather stations powered by solar energy.

A Kukua weather station has been installed on London Business School’s campus to coincide with International Earth Day and to raise awareness of the impact of climate change in Africa.

Tom Vanneste says: “The unveiling at London Business School is an important step in Kukua’s journey to raise awareness of the key challenges that farmers are facing in Africa due to climate change.

“Smallholder farmers are now making farming decisions without confidence in what the weather will be like tomorrow, the day after, and next week. Traditional weather knowledge, reliable for centuries, has been rendered useless due to the impact of climate change on weather patterns. Planting seeds at the right time can account for 25% of a crop’s yield, but farmers no longer know when to plan, what to plant, and how to plant.”

Kukua weather stations have been designed to use the latest Internet of Things technology, big data, and smart partnerships to calculate precise weather predictions, which are shared with farmers via SMS message. The information provided by Kukua increases farmers’ resilience to climate change.

Vanneste says: “Research has shown that providing farmers with timely and accurate localised weather forecasts, combined with agronomic advice, can increase crop yields by 25-80%.”

Kukua is currently operating 20 weather stations across five African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya. Kukua is also currently installing a further 70 weather stations in Nigeria with funding from the European Union and in partnership with the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture and Foreca.

Vanneste says: “Our vision is to expand Kukua across Africa and develop products that could improve the livelihoods and food security of even more smallholder farmers.”

The unveiling of Kukua at London Business School is a major milestone; it comes one year after the MBA student’s participation in London Business School’s Global Social Venture Competition, which was the catalyst for Kukua.

Weather data from the London Business School Kukua weather station will be available in near-real time online.