The rise of tap and go for transport across Africa

Public transport has always played a vital role in the heartbeat of the African continent, giving people a much-needed way to get to work and earn a living. With an estimated 70 per cent of Africa’s urban population residing in informal settlements, these transport lines have been essential in helping families to access regular income and carry out their day-to-day lives.

Almost three-quarters of Nairobi’s four million people use around 20,000 privately owned mini-buses as their primary mode of transportation. Yet Nairobi commuters risk being overcharged when it rains, at rush hour or if roads are closed to motorists, with fares on certain routes quadrupled during these high-demand periods.

Digitisation has always been a possible solution to creating more transparency and accountability but has historically faced resistance. However, as COVID-19 began sweeping through crowded transport systems in 2020, reducing physical transmission through cash quickly became a key priority. The pandemic suddenly gave digital technology an unprecedented opportunity to overcome resistance and swiftly integrate with transport systems where it was needed most.

When we entered the African market, we knew that there was a demand for our services, but we had no idea how urgent that demand would be. Matatu buses dominate transportation options across the country and are used by 70% of the Kenyan population, and 90% of mobile-money transactions go through the popular mobile wallet M-Pesa, which boasts more than 50 million active monthly users across the continent.


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