Did you know Africa’s transport system has been disrupted?

Did you know Africa’s transport system has been disrupted?

The public transport system in Africa is going through a transition. Uber has been the catalyst to change and their model is being copied by competitors across the continent. Over the last decade there have also been more and more motorcycle taxis (Okadas, Boda Boda, Phen-Phen, Zémidjans, Oléyia) zooming around cities, with their passenger or load balancing precariously on the back.

It was quite interesting to see the spread of these Okadas. They didn’t just pop up in the city, they started in a little border down, and slowly their usage spread down the main highway towards the city.

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Okada’s can be a safety risk

I often asked, how do these villagers afford their taxis and Okadas. Often drivers were driving cars or bikes that were owned by individuals that required them to pay a certain amount of money everyday. Drivers had to fight for passengers because everyday they would start off on a negative and they would only get money to feed themselves if they earn more than the daily payment rate. Job security was also a problem, because owners can take their vehicle back at any time. Many of the drivers came from backgrounds that would not normally be able to afford the big expense of a car or motorbike, but now they were had the ability to drive their own rides. Most of these men were not actually paying a big lump sum for their vehicle. In a scheme that they called ‘work and pay’, they were paying a weekly or monthly fee for the bike, which after 18 months to 2 years they would own. Much like a credit system, where you buy a TV, but in this case, they were able to empower themselves. The monthly fees were set at a point where the drivers were able to pay them as well as have money to live on.

Many of those leasing the bikes and cars out with this system had formerly used it themselves to get on the ladder. It turned these taxi drivers into entrepreneurs. As well as driving to make a living, they were buying and selling cars to their colleagues for extra income.

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A Tugende success story

This system was usually run by individuals, but now there are companies that are offering the work and pay system, which formalises it, and makes it a more secure venture. One such company is Tugende, in Uganda. They estimate that drivers are able to buy their Okadas in 19 months if all the payments are on time. They also say that their monthly fees are only 15-20% over the usual renting rate, and therefore it shouldn’t be too much of a burden on the drivers. It is not just anyone that can apply to buy a bike. There is rigorous screening and vetting and most of those applying need to have been recommended by other drivers. They also estimate that when the driver takes over ownership of the motorcycle, following final payment, he or she will double their take home rates.

Uber has also had a big effect on the transport system in many places across the African continent, with competition popping up everywhere as a consequence. The next area to disrupt is dominated by private mini buses that also go by various names in different countries. They are Trotro’s in Ghana, Dala Dala in Tanzania or Matata in parts of East Africa. These mini buses travel throughout countries on set routes, picking up and dropping people at sometimes loosely defined bus stops for a fraction of the price of a taxi. Whether the Uber systems can be used (in the same way as it has been used for ambulances) or another innovation will shake up the often unsafe mini buses industry. Within cities speed limits are often ignored, and I have even experienced a passenger having to put his foot on the break, whist we sat on a hill, as the driver went to relieve himself and the hand break was faulty.

One company that is hoping to change the payment method in similar transport systems in South Africa is GoMetro, who are launching mobile ticketing and passenger information services for each service. This could be a game changer across the continent. Once you have been scrabbling around on the floor for your change, which has been accidentally dropped, you will realise that maybe cash shouldn’t be the payment method of choice. (Incidentally, this is also a good distraction technique for thieves!)

What would you like to see change in the African transport system? We have established that more trains are needed, but how can the current system be adapted to be safer and more efficient? Tweet us at @InventiveAfrica and please also share the blog on Twitter and Facebook.


Did You Know Hemp could create change in Africa?

Did You Know Hemp could create change in Africa?

Inventive Africa is all about turning lives around with innovation.  It was an honor to receive the opportunity to write an article for the website.  The future of Africa and the World will not only rely on innovation- it will take food, clean energy and water, as well as sustainable buildings for Innovators to live and work from.

To put it as simple as I can: No amount of innovation will be possible in a world that cannot support Life due to the runaway climate change that threatens all mankind.

The Innovations addressing and behind tackling Climate Change in Africa are areas that MOhemp Kenya Sustainable Farming is well aware of.  

The benefits of this future farming enterprise will come in many forms

The Greatest benefit will be by:

Addressing Climate Change by utilizing the Earth as a giant carbon sink, which is the driving force behind MOhemp Kenya sustainable agriculture enterprise.  All the other benefits mentioned: Education, Employment, Promoting Kenya, Agriculture Research, Community Outreach, in addition to improving People’s Health are just benefits. Continue reading “Did You Know Hemp could create change in Africa?”

Did you know Africa is in desperate need of capacity building?

Did you know Africa is in desperate need of capacity building?

Africa relies on many foreign service providers, who enter the market and begin to squash the potential competition around them. Uber attempted to do this, but as we saw, there entrance disrupted the market, and competition, such as Little began to also grab market share. With a wealth of human capital, Africa has the resources to be self sufficient and create the innovations and technology of the future, not only for Africa, but the world. The problem comes with the education and training of potential workforce to bring them up to standard. Human capacity needs building.

Khonology also believe in the potential of African’s to service Africa and are hell bent on changing the standards of graduates before they enter the work place. They place a particular importance on Fintech; trying to better understand it so that it may be more Continue reading “Did you know Africa is in desperate need of capacity building?”

Did You Know Mobile apps are taking over Africa?

Did You Know Mobile apps are taking over Africa?

There are so many mobile phone applications. Some of them are completely useless, some entertain  us when sitting on the toilet, and some fit into our daily life so easily, that it is only when our phone goes missing or breaks down that we really need it. Mobile apps are inviting innovation and Africa is accepting. In Africa, apps are not just trying to solve problems people don’t know they have, for example something like Shazam, which magically tells you what song your listen to, they are solving real problems.

In a previous blog I mentioned that AppsAfrica had launched their call for applicants for their innovation awards. This week they have released the finalists for their innovation awards. The awards will take place in Cape Town on the 14th of November. The finalists have been whittled down from over 200 startups, from 25 African countries.


Amongst the finalist are Flutterwave, that support financial inclusion of all payment methods, Domestly, that supports people fund work in households, Eneza Education, who support education using mobile devices, and Worldreader, who seek to provide books for every child in Africa, all whom we have features in the blog previously. (They are all great innovations, click on the links to see what we thought of them) We have picked out our best from the rest (in our opinion)


SpacePointe aims to help African SMEs to increase revenue from both their offline and online market channels. They have joined the booming e-commerce sphere in Africa by Continue reading “Did You Know Mobile apps are taking over Africa?”

Did you know Africa’s legal system is getting an innovative makeover?

Did you know Africa’s legal system is getting an innovative makeover?

The African legal system is a complicated affair. Of course, first of all, there are 54 countries and the systems vary across all of them. Secondly, often there are also traditional legal systems running alongside a system the resembles European systems, with laws made by parliaments and judged over in court. Traditional law remains relevant in local communities, and often Chiefs hold judgement over minor local cases. Those cases could be anything from disagreements to inter family problems, which would could take up the precious time of the courts. Some would disagree that cases should be dealt with by a traditional ruler, but many rulers would tell you, that they deal with cases to make sure the best outcome for both parties, which isn’t often the case with the common law system. Sometimes, common sense is not given a chance when confined to strict regulation.

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Traditional court in French West Africa

The legal system is not immune to Africa technological innovations and there are some changes beginning to occur. Many in Africa and the world do not have access to legal representation. This can run hand in hand with corruption and ignorance of human rights. The Hague Institute for Innovation Law (HiiL) estimates four billion people fit into this category, but tech is now paving the way for people to have access. In order to promote this change HiiL held a bootcamp in Johannesburg, in which startups were invited to pitch their legal ideas.

One of the pitchers was Business M+  (if anyone has a link to their services please let us know!) who are attempting to help female entrepreneurs positioned in the informal sectors with difficulties, such as registering their small business. Starting a business can be a complicated affair for anyone, and small informal business owners in Africa are often not given the advice. Navigating yourself through the process, and dealing with all the bureaucracy, and being passed from person to person and possibly coming up against corruption, can be a daunting challenge. Getting informal workers through this challenge and to the formal sector needs the assistance of startups like Business M+.

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Business M + empowering women with legal advice

Ufulu Wanga is another project that pitched at the event. Following the lead of many SMS based services they will offer a SMS to Web service which enables people to anonymously  report human rights violations such as domestic violence, child custody information requests or even requests on separation or divorce procedures. The web portal will provide information which is broken down into to easily readable and comprehendible sections.

Another great innovation is the African Law Library. This has been created by the African Innovation Foundation, who are based in Switzerland and founded by Jean Claude Bastos de Morais. (They also run the Innovation Prize for Africa) They had a vision to promote access to law, social justice and good governance across Africa, and the law library is one of the ways they are using to achieve this. The library draws together a collation of laws from most countries across the continent to enable people from business, government and civil society to have “innovative access” to it. With over 20,000 users signed up and 36 partners in 20 African countries, the library is a big success. This library of legislation is of great benefit to investors and potential investors from within and out of Africa, but apart from businesses, this should enable the ordinary citizen to be aware of their rights within their country of residence, which is invaluable!

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Mission of the African Law Library

Uganda 1 lawyer for roughly every 19,000 people. A problem that plagues the entire continent. Out of his experience of the general lack of knowledge of law from people in Uganda. BarefootLaw was born from the personal experience of Gerald Abila. His experience of an evicted hotel owner that had to ask a second year law student for legal advice to a man that had to defend himself in court and was not able to adequately cross examine. They started by trying to use Facebook to offer free access to justice. They then started an app in which people can freely get in touch with a lawyer, as well as download the constitution and other legal legislation. They followed this app by offering Skype consultancy to those in rural area that still needed face to face advice, which according to Abila has been successful in solving many disputes. Finally, they have another plan to create areas where people can have access to free legal services in certain specific locations. They will be able to use their phone to access a network and therefore the services.

Having access to legal services and advice is something that everyone, no matter what sector of society, has a right to. By using technology to bring Africa nearer to affordable legal services can assist in putting an end to corruption and protecting human rights. Do you have any examples of legal innovations, maybe involving the traditional legal setting? Let us know. Please also share the blog on Twitter and Facebook

Did You Know there is enough water in Africa?

Did You Know there is enough water in Africa?

Water. We turn on our taps and out it comes. Many of us don’t think twice about drinking it, bathing in it, watering our plants with it, even play fighting with it, but for many around the world careful consideration must be take when using it. According to The Water Project Africa, 319 million people in sub-Saharan Africa do not have access to clean reliable drinking water. In many occasions even if they do have access to water, people must walk far and wide in order to collect water and carry it home, which is an arduous task that takes time away from other important tasks. Yet another thing that makes many African households very inefficient. On once occasion, when following a family in search of water, we came across a muddy waterhole that they had been using for drinking and cooking water. In this same village I saw the delight when the first drop of pipe borne water fell out of a tap for which they had been saving for as a community for years.

Massive investment in water infrastructure is needed but there are innovations that are enabling communities and individuals in rural and urban Africa to be able to access water. The pure water sachet is not a new innovation, but it is an innovation that sprang out of need for portable affordable on the go drinking water. Many little sheds with filtration and bagging machines popped up throughout the continent, churning out water to the masses. For those that don’t know of them these sachets are 300 ml plastic squares filled with water. Continue reading “Did You Know there is enough water in Africa?”

Did You Know mobile networks are battling for customers in Africa?

Did You Know mobile networks are battling for customers in Africa?

Mobile companies in Africa are in a scramble to corner the market as quickly as possible. The usage of mobile phones has risen incredibly with many people owning 2 or more phones and or phones containing more than one sim card. Users are always looking for the most cost effective way to meet their needs and being on more than one network can allow them to use the various different offers from different companies.

Access to mobile phones, and to the internet is changing Africa. As you may have read phones are offering people across the continent opportunities that they have not had before. It is not just about communicating with people on Facebook or Whatsapp. People can now bank, sell agricultural produce, but African mobile network providers need to find ways to entice customers to their network.

Free night calls

When things were just hotting up, there were many offers to bring people into a network. One of those offers was free night calls. With some networks, such as MTN, you could make free night calls. To begin with the free night calls went from midnight to 5 in the morning. Student hostels would be awake to the sound of chatter deep into the night, as Continue reading “Did You Know mobile networks are battling for customers in Africa?”