The use of mobile technology to provide information access and improve service delivery in the petroleum industry: case study of Kenol Kobil Kenya
Access to and use of mobile telephony in sub-Saharan Africa has increased dramatically over the past decade. Mobile telephony has brought new possibilities to the continent. Mobile phones are becoming a part of the daily culture of almost every petroleum consumer. Mobile traffic increased by 20 percent to 5.1 million minutes as users increased and tariffs declined. Internet users jumped nearly 60 percent to 6.4 million chiefly due to mobile phone data services through 3G networks and the use of mobile phone applications in accessing vital information. Kenya has experienced a rapid increase in mobile phone usage with mobile phone penetration in the country at 51 percent mark in the first quarter of 2011 (CCK, 2011). The country has also been experiencing unstable supply of services, pricing in the petroleum industry and inflation that has resulted in a high cost of living in most parts of the country. Consumers of this commodity have been airing complaints about the high petroleum prices within everyone wanting to access the cheapest station available in order to save on petroleum. Furthermore motorists have found themselves in situations where they have run out of petroleum in an unfamiliar region of the country. This has left many stranded having to walk for miles at times in the wrong direction in search of a petrol station that might just be nearby. Motorists in search situations have been forced to rely on luck and maybe bumping into someone who will give them authentic information as to the location of the nearest station. The aim of this paper was to investigate the current situation in the petroleum industry, and the various challenges faced by both the Petroleum companies and their consumers in accessing the services offered. The paper also presents the implementation of a prototype mobile application running on a real mobile device as a means to tackle the challenges faced by the consumers in accessing service information, and those faced by the petrol companies in providing their services. It outlines the design requirements of the mobile application, a petrol station locator which is then taken to some consumers and feedback gotten to access whether the innovative product is useful.