Monday morning, 8:00 am, Abidjan: what alternatives to be on time at the office? Complicated ... On the other side of the continent, the situation is similar: traffic jams. Collective taxis, personal cars, Ubers, all end up bumper to bumper. But Kampala is Boda Boda city (name given to the mototaxis who transport the city dwellers on a daily basis). The user simply goes down to the corner to find 5-6 boda drivers busy at their "stage. Following the polite morning greetings, the user indicates his destination, quickly negotiates a price, straddles the motorcycle (specially designed to carry a passenger), and he is gone for an expert slalom amidst traffic madness (boda boda, taxi , private vehicles, trucks, some bicycles), to arrive at destination by the fastest possible means. Common in the capitals of East Africa, Nairobi, Kigali, Dar es Salaam and many secondary cities, as well as in certain countries of West Africa (Benin, Nigeria ...), have motorcycles become a mobility solution to deal with congestion in the cities of Africa? More than a mobility offer, the activity represents a real industry, generating income, feeding families, integrating with the needs of the city and requiring a system of regulation. It is probably not desirable to replicate the industry as it is, but why not if it were to evolve?
A first principle to improve the industry where it exists is to put the user at the center, the city-dweller who moves about and the driver who carries him. For cities where it does not exist, it is necessary to understand the stakes before considering it as an exportable solution. This mode of transport is a common denominator of the capitals of East Africa, yet it differs very much from one city to another. Equipment, regulation, routes, customers, drivers ... In Kigali, mototaxis are very regulated on many aspects: licensing, wearing helmets, organization in associations. In Dar es Salaam, which is completely restructuring its transport offer around the BRT, it is a "last-mile solution". In Nairobi, where there is a lack of confidence between residents and drivers, linked to urban insecurity, the user only contacts his few trusted drivers for door-to-door transportation. In Kampala, all travel distances can be made via boda boda: from the last 500 meters when the taxi is stuck in traffic jams, from periphery to outskirts, or even from Kampala to the airport for travelers about to miss their plane.
So, what would be a desirable mototaxis industry? The first scourge that affects the motorcycle industry is road safety, for drivers, passengers and other road users. How can the mototaxis no longer cause or suffer so many road accidents? The drivers we met in the region are always talking about this serious problem and the question "Why would you change your job? "Is the only reason that is added. It is a set of points to improve: accessibility and awareness of safety equipment, driving and driving licenses, awareness-raising, improved management by hospitals. In addition, the sector as a whole should be organized as a coherent and efficient transport offer. This requires knowing the demand for mobility, improving the profession, understanding the main indicators and integrating it into urban transport policy. Elements are being put in place, but examples such as the ban on entering downtown Nairobi or the impact of the large 5000 driver identification campaign in Dar es Salaam show that a global vision to improve performance and integration of the sector is difficult to implement where the industry already exists. The sector is also a source of distrust and is perceived in the city as a cause of insecurity. A desirable mototaxis industry is an industry where being a driver becomes desirable. That is to say, where the market is not saturated, forcing the drivers to work hard and exposing them to physical and financial risks. So it's about providing protections for those vulnerable workers. Above all, it is a mobility solution that can be relevant in large capitals as in small towns, but must be tailored to the local context of the city and its people.
Interview with Martin: what is the daily life of a motorcycle driver in Kampala?
Digital seems to be a fabulous asset for this issue. One could view digital technologies as a solution to these challenges to create the modern version of this industry. Digital technologies encompass the entire value chain to rethink the response to these problems. A few notable players in this sector have already embarked on this initiative, including SafeMotos (Kigali), Safeboda and Tugende (Kampala), TwendeApp (Dar es Salaam), and many others. What do they offer? An Uber type application that connects the driver to the passenger, training programs for drivers, a desire to improve mobility safety via mototaxis, etc. SafeMotos offers a unique and interesting solution: an algorithm to evaluate the safety of the journey using the sensors of the smartphone of the driver in order to measure speed, accelerations, turns. This monitoring makes drivers more responsible as they are noted on their driving and passenger's notice. They also access additional services (including funding), and are thus encouraged to deliver better quality of service.
The integration of digital technologies has the potential to bring multiple solutions. How do you know that a driver has learned to drive a motorcycle correctly or if he started in the profession yesterday? A driver profile provides access to the history of the driver's experience. How do you know that a friend on a motorcycle has arrived at his destination, especially if something goes wrong? Thanks to the driver or passenger follow-up, this information can be accessed automatically and remotely. All this data collection could enable drivers to access more efficiently other services (insurance, banking, savings). Digital also allows us to rethink the stakes of urban aggressions by integrating mobile payment and making mobility cash-less and therefore reduce the aggressions.
Rethinking or developing industry into a desirable industry could therefore offer a vision of social innovation. Proposing a solution integrating the whole value chain, putting the user "driver" as a priority (SafeMotos: "We want drivers to love us, to ensure quality of their service.") And designed to meet the needs of the user -customer. A sustainable model is a model that brings enough value to the driver, attracting enough customers, so that with a profitable social enterprise vision, have a real impact to regulate the sector and make it perform well. Making digital mobility is also in line with this new impetus for the digital city, a vision that resonates particularly in Kigali (Transform Africa, May 2017) and Abidjan (Smart City Africa, November 2017), which want to inspire cities to become the first cities of tomorrow. There is a role here to be invented for mototaxis.