March 2010 Cover of PC Tech Magazine featuring NSWC's then-latest innovation. The corporation has continued to embrace technology.
March 2010 Cover of PC Tech Magazine featuring NSWC’s then-latest innovation. The corporation has continued to embrace technology.

In February 2010, Uganda’s National Water & Sewerage Corporation (NWSC) contacted with a ground-breaking innovation that an insider felt should make the cover of PC Tech Magazine.  They had introduced a solution that would enable field agents to record and issue water bills (invoices) instantly, at the consumers’ premises.

In hindsight, it seems ancient that there is a time when their agents would make two trips, one to take readings and the other to deliver the invoices. Of course there’s always the third trip – the one to disconnect defaulters. It was hard work; but such were the times when the world was far less connected. Their commitment to embrace technology have eased service delivery in ways that can so easily be taken for granted.

This week they released an Android app that further highlight their commitment to a technology-lead service delivery.

NWSC Mobile, as they’re calling it, will help customers make payments for their accounts (if they are registered with mobile money of any network), check their outstanding balances and download mini statements.

The first thing which came to my mind when I installed this app was, why hasn’t URA done something like this?

The App

NWSC_appThe app can be downloaded from Google Play, and being significantly light (561KB) installs in seconds. Literally. It requires users to be NSWC Customers (obviously), and therefore prompts users to either log in to existing accounts or register – with their NSWC Customer ID, phone number and a few other details.

Unfortunately, the the app keeps crashing, so I wasn’t able to get past the registration screen.

NWSC_error screen But the User manual has some useful details:

“Once the user has logged on, s/he will be able to make a choice of the service s/he is
interested in,” it reads.

The Not-So-Good

App crashed a few times during testing. In fact, we weren’t able to move past the registration screen.

My colleague also wondered why images of dolls, that appear to even bear watermarks of a certain other owner were used for the Splash screen. It would point to a bit of carelessness on the part of the developers.

But overall, the design is not good. There’s room for improvement.

The Bottom Line

You always have to start somewhere. And NWSC has made it’s own start. We applaud that unreservedly, while challenging other service providers to borrow a leaf.