Africa’s Public Transport Sector is going Digital

Digitizing the public transport sector is inevitable. Those were the concluding remarks from our webinar last month.

COVID-19’s impact has been felt in virtually every sector. Public transport in Africa has not been spared either. Operating as an informal sector, cash based and poorly organised, the anarchy that reigns has proved to be a huge challenge as governments try implement safety measures to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Can technology improve the continent’s public transport? That is the question we set out to get answers to as we invited our panel that represented both the private sector and a government regulator.

Tech is only a 30% in implementation of digital systems

Perhaps the most poignant remark was from Patrick Buchana, Founder & CEO AC Group

When we launched Tap&Go, we thought tech would solve everything.  When we got in, we quickly realized that the politics and dynamics of the public transport sector are very different.

Tech is only a 30% component of the implementation of digital systems, the rest of it is the politics around it. It’s exciting to see that, only when all the non-tech barriers are out of the way does the tech come in and take its place to evolve and transform in a way that both the governments and bus companies can gain from its implementation

Patrick Buchana Nsenga, Founder & CEO, AC Group

Webinar Summary; Digitizing Public Transport

We’ve gleaned through the webinar video and picked out a summary of insightful highlights

COVId-19’s impact on public transport

  • More governments now rethinking public transport and seeking ways to digitize and collect tax revenue
  • For Tanzania, pandemic came with lots of challenges for government’s efforts to digitize transport. Lack of supportive equipment for implementation POS, thermal printers (no importation of goods)
  • Rwanda had made good steps in digitizing transport payments in Kigali before shutdown. City has had a fully automated in fleet management and rapid transport since 2017. Intercity movement was at 60% at time of lockdown.
  • AC group, behind Tap&Go transport software solution has been aiding The Rwanda government COVID19 taskforce with contact tracing to
    • Identifying positive cases
    • Who else was close
    • Where, starting point, mapping out spread & other tracing tools
  • AC group is now extending  contact services to Taxi and motor cycles
  • The biggest question for players in the sector is how to sustainably run biz by exploring innovative solutions to the challenge and changes I in pricing is not a sustainable model
  • Interesting developments in Kenya, NTSA has sought submissions from tech providers for provision of contact tracing with payment gateway services

Pain points for the sector

  • The biggest pain point for this sector is the lack of data. Lack of it hinders optimization of routes which often determines the right price. It also prevents revenue monitoring and tax collection by governments
  • Implementation of digital solutions however grand, disruptive or well-intentioned cannot exist in a regulatory framework vacuum
  • Approach. Tech companies entering the space must have a compelling reason to bus owners to adopt technology ahead of the regulator stepping in to enforce.
  • Cash-based. Financial institutions are still risk-averse to cash-based businesses hence fewer credit facilities which stunts business growth

Cellulant Digitizing payments for Transport in Tanzania

Last month, Cellulant was among 8 companies that Tanzania’s Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) has licensed to digitize the country’s upcountry passenger buses’ ticketing and payment services.

Passengers travelling upcountry can now conveniently book their tickets using Cellulant’s Tingg Travel platform available on USSD, mobile app and mobile web. A first of its kind solution for the country’s regional commuter vehicles, the new e-ticketing service will leverage Cellulant’s vast payment network to enable passengers to pay using mobile money, credit/debit card and direct bank payments with the country’s leading banks and mobile money operators in a move that will enhance revenue collections by the regulatory authority.

Talk to us about implementing our Ting Travel ticketing and payments solution by emailing [email protected]