Cape Town 180223- Inyala standing near Langa taxi rank after two people were shot dead yesterday morning and others injured. Picture Cindy Waxa/AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY/ANA

JOHANNESBURG - There is a new app known as AftaRobot, that is designed to help those who travel with mini-bus taxis in the Johannesburg Southern Suburbs Taxi Association (JSSTA).

How it works: 

Similar to Uber, The app allows commuters to pre-book a taxi ride from a specific location (a taxi rank). 

In addition, the app allows users to rate a drivers safety, timeliness and availability of rides.

The inspiration behind the development of AftaRobot is due to life experiences explained Obakeng Morapeli Matlhoko from Aftarobot. 

 "Why is it that a system that transports 70% of the public transport market, can be so informal, structured, unsafe, a vital lifeline for millions, disliked, needed and can't get real investment all at the same time?" Minibus taxis transport billions of people annually, get no subsidy (or priority lanes even though they are a high occupancy vehicle) like most other "formal" public transport services, yet have managed to survive from our countries dark days all the way to now", said Matlhoko. 

Matlhoko explained that the majority of the funding for their business came from winning competitions and receiving grant funding.

" We are the winners of the Gauteng Innovation Awards in the mobile category 2013, in 2014 we received financial support from the Start-up Support Program ran by the Innovation Hub. We then received support from Ericsson via their Enterprise Support Program in 2015 and 2016. Currently, we received a grant from Qualcomm via their Wireless reach initiative in 2016 and 2017", said Matlhoko. 

Their biggest challenge as a team is receiving access to the market. 

"  It is very difficult driving innovation in the minibus taxi industry and you need to seek a lot of mandate in order to have a successful project. Also, access to technology skills and funding remain challenges", said Matlhoko. 

The program is supported by Qualcomm Wireless Reach and uses Qualcomm-enabled 3G/4G devices with Bluetooth, beacons and other wireless-tech.

This technology helps to enable the functionality of AftaRobot.

For the future of Aftarobot, Matlhoko and his team hope to implement the solution in over 10 000 vehicles and over 4 000 taxi owners and would like AftaRobot to be an integral part of formalising informal public transport on the continent.

The AftaRobot app is available to download for Android for free from the Google Play Store.

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