CAPE TOWN – In Rwanda they are called Moto taxis, in Nigeria Okadas, while in Uganda, there is Boda-boda, a name which came from the two-wheeled taxis in East Africa that would transport travellers between points along the Kenyan-Ugandan border (Border to Border).
Motorcycle taxis are a very common and affordable means of travelling in many African countries and the industry has boomed in recent years in Sub-Saharan Africa due to population growth and increased demand for transport.
These motorcycle taxis are cheap, convenient and provide a much-needed source of income, for especially young people, due to high unemployment and associated levels of poverty.
However, the two-wheelers are also dangerous to both drivers and passengers as they are a major cause of road accidents and fatalities.
Now a Singapore-based company has come up with a potential solution to simplify and improve this ever-expanding industry.
“About 70 percent of the accidents involve motorcycle taxis and about 80 percent of the fatalities involve a passenger or a driver from a motorcycle taxi.
"So this is something which is not just in Kigali, but it’s throughout most of the Sub Saharan Africa,” said Karanvir Singh, chief executive and founder of Yego Innovision, a technology company which has created YegoMoto, a platform which monitors public transport services in Rwanda.
“Motorcycle taxis are very common. If you go to Uganda and Kenya you have hospital wards specifically for what they call Boda-Boda accidents,” he said.
Singh says the very large motorcycle taxi industry in most of the African countries is a billion dollar market, which is untaxed and unregulated. In Rwanda, Kigali alone is a city of 1.2 million people.
There are about 750 buses, about 1,000 taxi cabs but they have about 20,000 motorcycle taxis - the city moves on motorcycle taxis.
“We came to Africa in 2015 to transform Africa and then that time we were quite impressed by the dialogue to transform Africa and we met with the ministers of Rwanda.
"They asked us, you come from Singapore, why don’t you look at starting a solution here,” said the CEO of Yego Innovision, which was recently named the Best App in Africa for Mobility and Transport at AfricaCom in Cape Town.
“They had one particular pinpoint which was motorcycle taxis."
The company spent about eight months on research about the motorcycle industry and the real challenges for motorcycle taxi drivers and passengers.
In the end, Singh said that based on the research the company designed a platform that provided the government with complete information on every motorcycle driver.
“Whatever the government has in terms of paper trail, the company puts it all together into one repository for the governments to access. Plus we put on to all of these motorcycles, devices which are sending up information every 30 seconds.
"So now you know not only who the driver is, where he is driving, on which motorcycle, time, speed, place, how many passengers, how many rides and we have this data live for the government," he said.
“We are taking the payments which are all cash, we are saying cashless, we have NFC tags and you just tap and pay.”
Yego Moto partnered with MTN so passengers can pay with their mobile wallet or Yego Moto Ride-Tap-Pay NFC tags that are prepaid and can be used by an entire family or group who have access to the pin required for payment.
Each ride is invoiced and drivers get their takings in their mobile wallet. Rwanda's other mobile operator Airtel is now also a partner.
“So now we are taking an informal sector which is all cash risk, where people and motorcycle drivers get robbed because they are carrying money.”
Singh said the company created this entire solution because it found that Rwanda was a very open and easy place to do business. The company has invested more than $6.5 million and is looking at investments in more complex markets like Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.
African News Agency (ANA)