Going digital to tackle traffic accidents and crime – Senegal and Rwanda adopt two very different approaches

10 August 2018

Top Story

African Governments are slowly becoming more ambitious about how to tackle fundamental problems digitally. The noisy and often badly driven public transport and taxi drivers – particularly motorcycle drivers - are often a threat to life and limb and are hot spots for crime. Russell Southwood looks at two different approaches to imposing some discipline on this mayhem, with one example from Senegal and the other from Rwanda.

Senegal’s ICT agency ADIE has decided that the licensing of drivers will start to go online. It has launched the Cap Karaange project that will ensure that drivers are registered online in a single database, whichever office the driver gets his or her licence from.

The Ministry of Infrastructures, Land Transport and Accessibility, through the Road Transport Department has asked ADIE to help with the digitalization process. Part of the digitlization process will cover the issuing of vehicle safety certificates.

At the launch ceremony for the project, President Macky Sall said: "With this ambitious and modern project, Senegal will have one of the most modern and reliable systems in the world, backed by digital media allowing better management of data related to vehicles and drivers."

One key part of the project is the use of ADIE’s fibre optic network. This has been used to connect the main Dakar office at Marist Hann as well as various Directorate of Road Transport sites including: the Fair, Les Baux maraichers station and regional offices in Diourbel, Fatick, Kaolack, Kolda, St. Louis, Thies and Ziguinchor. In addition, ADIE will host a backup of the platform and its database in its own data centre.

The objective of the digitization programme, according to Abdoulaye Daouda Diallo, Minister of Infrastructures, Land Transport and Disenclavement, is to "sustainably reduce traffic accidents, which are running at two deaths a day". It will also make a considerable contribution in the fight against fraud. Various agencies including the police will now have access to a database of correct license holder information.

Whilst this Senegalese digital initiative must be applauded, it is very much version 1.0 alongside what is taking place in Rwanda. After a trial with 600 motorcycle drivers in the Autumn of 2017 in Kigali, the Government of Rwanda licensed Yego Moto. It launched in January 2018 with 15,000 motorcycle taxis. By the end of 2018, this service will be extended to all moto taxis across Rwanda.

In encouraging the service, the Government was concerned about two problems: security and crime (it had no idea who drivers and there are thefts from passengers) and safety (80% of accidents in the capital were caused by motos).

During the pilot, the Rwandan Government put in place a regulatory framework that makes it mandatory for drivers to have a licence: fines for not having or using a meter are harsh with the possibility of losing up to a day’s takings. The boda boda drivers make a huge contribution to getting people round the city: there are 20,000 of them compared with only 600 taxis.

The drivers get a branded helmet and a smartphone that acts like a tap and pay POS. There’s a simple user interface on the phone in local language, Kinyarwanda. Yego Moto has partnered with MTN so passengers can pay using their mobile wallet or Yego Moto Ride-Tap-Pay NFC tags. The NFC tags are prepaid so several stickers can be sold to a family and each person can enter the pin to authorize 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. At the heart of the system is an IoT device on the motorcycle taxis with a payment solution. This means that all rides can be viewed on an eight foot screen that Yego Moto has in its offices.

For the passengers, they get a verified driver, their journey is recorded and they pay according to the metered journey. The app also has the facility to allow a friend to pay for a journey.

”(Previously) if you were a foreigner, you’d paid five times as much and often drivers didn’t have change. The police also get 60-70 complaints a day. ‘He took my money and ran off.’ Lots of motorcycle taxis are a source of crime like theft.”

From all this data collected in real time, Yego Moto will be able to expand the functionality of the platform for other services. For example, it will be able to provide data that will allow banks to credit score loan applicants. Singh sees the more successful drivers getting a loan to start another business and leaving the motos business behind.

Also drivers are the equivalent of a mobile POS so will be able to “become merchants for m-commerce and e-commerce. Yego Moto drivers could deliver things like UberEats and you could create a marketplace similar to Jumia with goods and services we can deliver”. Currently the banks estimate that there are no more than 1,000 POS in the country:”When we’ve rolled out nationally we’ll have 45,000 agents with a POS.”

Watch Karanvir Singh on how Yego Moto provides Rwanda's moto taxi drivers and users a better service

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