Editor’s Note: March 08, 2019

Can tech fix Africa’s commute?

Mobitill Epesi, a Kenyan ICT company, has launched a mobile app in the capital Nairobi to help streamline the city’s public transportation. The aim is to improve scheduling for buses and minibuses using GPS.

Countless commuters across Africa use informally run bus, motorcycle and minibus networks, often providing a poor user experience. More than 70% of Kenyans rely on such services, which are inefficient at best, and at worst chaotic, corrupt and downright dangerous.

Mobilitas is a small part of a growing tech movement trying to change this.

In December Uber launched a bus hailing service in Cairo, following the lead of local startup SWVL, which is planning to expand into Kenya and Uganda on the back of strong growth since launching in 2017. Kenyan startup Little, backed by Safaricom, is also moving into the space

In Nairobi the US tech giant has launched a similar service for motorcycles, as has its main rival, Estonia’s Bolt (Taxify.).

They have their work cut out for them, facing a myriad of logistical challenges, while taking oncartel-like groups that control the informal transport market.

It’s a worthwhile effort, offering more than a better user experience. The space is virtually impossible to tax, something mobile technology could easily change.

Let’s see how they fare.

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