Young Malawian Entrepreneurs Launch New Search Engine, C-Finder
Four years ago, when Daniel Chiwinga and Kondwani Chimatiro met in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) lecture room at Mzuzu University, in the northern part of Malawi, they had no idea that they would be starting a journey that could turn into their life's work.
The two young men, one from Kasungu and another from Lilongwe in the central districts of Malawi, have now developed a search engine they are calling ‘C-Finder’, spurred by the knowledge they have gained over the years that they have been studying.
The search engine will prioritise information from Malawi when a user conducts a search, delivering relevant, local content first. Chimatiro says Malawi lags behind in ICT development. He feels those working in the sector need to be looking at Malawi in terms of what is needed as a country.
“But first of all, for us (Malawians) to achieve what we need, in development, socially, technologically, we need information,” he says. Adding that this is why they came with an idea on how best they can deliver information to people, and how people can access information.
He says they thought that the only way to deliver information is to centralise all Malawian information, that cuts across a wide range of disciplines like history, literature and more.
“This is why we devised a search engine with a central hub for that information; all Malawians can be able to access that information from the central repository. The idea is to provide information to Malawians since information in Malawi is difficult to access,” says Chimatiro.
His colleague Chiwinga agrees with him: “In Africa and Malawi in particular, many people do not access technology because it is expensive and we want to come up with ways of developing low cost technology so that everybody can be able to afford.”
Chiwinga said the other thing is that a lot of information in Malawi which is being provided by Malawians themselves cannot be found on the internet. He says this is because nobody has put that information on the internet.
“We have a lot of information concerning Malawi which is in hard copy so we want to digitalise that information so that it would be in soft copy and then we put it on C-finder so that other people can find that information by using C-finder search engine,” explains Chiwinga.
He says anyone who is in the ICT sector must take up the responsibility of loading important information on the internet.
Chiwinga said the difference between C-Finder and other search engines is that theirs is focusing on Malawi information. “For example if you search for a word ‘admission’ on Google it is going to bring you a lot of universities that are offering certain programmes but if you write admission on C-finder it is going to bring you universities and colleges from Malawi,” he says.
He adds that then C-Finder will reduce the ‘hunting ground’ for those looking for information where as when one uses Google they are going to be overwhelmed with the amount of results that will appear.
The other thing, Chimatiro says is that Malawian results on Google may be ranked very far because you can find over thousands and thousands of results but with C-Finder the search for terms about Malawi will be indexed at first.
At the moment when one search for something, like ‘Gregory Gondwe’ using C-Finder handful results appear which is in contrast with thousands of results that will appear when using Google. Chimatiro says this is because at the moment C-Finder lacks enough space.
“Currently we have got very small database which is handling limited information, but as we go on and with resources permitting we will handle almost all information in the world as well as Google is doing,” he says.
The two university finalists say they are currently working on trying to increase space so that they can index more information about Malawi, so that once anyone searches for information they can get a lot of results.