DuniaCom Group is a Mozilla Common Voice awardee. We spoke with founder, Project Coordinator and IT Director Siani Kayani about its development of a voice-based app in Kiswahili. The app will help smallholder maize farmers in rural Tanzania – the majority of whom are women – access local information to increase their yields and improve their digital literacy

Tito Victor Lugoe of DuniaCom Group, seated at left, at work
Tito Victor Lugoe of DuniaCom Group, seated at left, at work


  • Smallholder maize farmers in rural Tanzania don’t have widespread access to timely, accurate information about their crops, which negatively impacts decision making

  • High internet connection costs, low digital literacy, and difficulty accessing digital financial services are three of the major factors holding smallholder farmers back

  • DuniaCom Group’s Kiswahili voice-enabled chatbot aims to put current agricultural and financial services information in farmers’ hands to help them increase their yields and their incomes

The Issue

The majority of smallholder maize farmers in Tanzania live in remote areas with low literacy and digital literacy rates, and with limited internet connectivity. The government’s public extension officers have traditionally assisted smallholder farmers, but budget constraints have been shrinking their ranks and reach. Many farmers miss out on the benefits of accurate, up-to-date information that would help their crop yields and incomes, like pest and disease outbreaks, weather patterns, and advancements in seeds and fertilizers. Farmers also generally lack access to digital financial services.

The Approach

DuniaCom is developing an AI-based, voice-enabled chatbot (Kiswahili Text and Voice Recognition Platform, or KTVRP) to provide smallholder maize farmers with current, location-specific information to help them maximize and sell their crops. Founder, Project Coordinator, and IT Director Siani Kayani said voice-based technologies are critical for rural Tanzanian farmers due to language and literacy barriers. High internet costs, another hindrance to farmers’ use of technology, also constrained the team’s voice-collection work necessary to develop the chatbot. To solve this problem, DuniaCom organized data collection events at sites with Wi-Fi connections, combining them with digital literacy training for those who needed guidance on device-use and web navigation.

DuniaCom is one of eight grantees in Mozilla’s 2023 - 24 Common Voice Kiswahili program, which funds projects leveraging the Kiswahili language and voice technology to increase social and economic opportunities for marginalized groups in Kenya, Tanzania, and the Kiswahili-speaking Democratic Republic of Congo. These grants are supported by the Gates Foundation in collaboration with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and the German development agency GIZ, as a response to a gender conscious and community centered approach to tech development. The KTVRP app is in its pilot phase, and DuniaCom has used the grant to run its data collection, data analysis, code development, and pre-launch testing.

What Does Success Look Like?

“We will know our work is done when maize smallholder farmers are seen not only as beneficiaries or end-users of AI voice recognition technology, but as essential collaborators and partners from design to deployment.”


Julius Kambarage Nyerere, the founder and first president of Tanzania. Nyerere believed that a strong national language of Kiswahili could help the country overcome ethnic divisions and promote a sense of unity amongst Tanzanians. His vision was for Kiswahili to become a widely spoken and respected language not only within Tanzania, but also across the African continent and beyond. His vision is being realized.”

Kayani’s Three Most Beautiful Words in Kiswahili

Umoja - Unity

Usawa - Equality

Uhuru - Freedom