Africa’s mobility sector is experiencing a boom like never before. At the granular level, mobility companies solve key challenges in the transportation value chain by offering proprietary technology which makes mobility a service of convenience and choice.
From Blue Bus in Egypt, to Quickbus in Nigeria, and Iabiri in Kenya, we’ve seen innovative trends centering around ease of access through e-hailing, credit facilitation to driver-partners, inter/intra-city ride-sharing, digital infrastructure for operators and overall convenience for users.
Nonetheless, with the development of ride-hailing and logistics services attempting to address these critical concerns, mobility companies have just scratched the surface. Other problems that prevent the mobility landscape from realising its full potential include urban congestion, insufficient route data, unregulated public transit agencies, and, most critically, the lack of robust end-to-end digital infrastructure management for operators. This said, a number of companies in the digital mobility sector are working to make this a thing of the past, and paving the way is BuuPass.
Founded in 2016, BuuPass essentially creates the digital framework for long-distance travel in Africa. The business collaborates with operators to offer digital transportation options that make it easier for commuters to go around. A platform for enterprise solutions was also developed by BuuPass in 2019 and is made available to bus operators for use at their stations. This further aids in the digitization of daily operations for bus companies. On both the B2B and B2C sides, BuuPass addresses major client pain points while constructing scalable infrastructure.
BuuPass has now introduced an innovative move to track parcels, adding to the company’s recent advancements. This concept was prompted by the difficulty in tracking parcels at times, owing mostly to transportation companies tracking the vehicle intended to transport the parcel rather than the parcel itself. This would cause client inconvenience if the parcel became mixed up and forgotten someplace, or if it got lost. In the event of rerouting or missing parcels, bus operators can now continually track the location of the parcel. This is a new feature that BuuPass is offering bus operators when they join the BuuPass platform.
What does it take to truly digitise mobility in Africa?
According to the International Transport Forum (2018) Blockchain and Beyond, held in Paris, three major layers are required to bolster the digitisation of mobility – operators, IT providers and mobility service providers.
Although transit agencies are a core part of the mobility value chain, travellers often face cost ordeals and tedious booking processes. “It takes travellers unnecessary time and money to compare platforms while trying to book tickets. With BuuPass digitalization, both challenges are taken care of because we do not only cut costs for users or commuters, we also reduce administrative overhead for bus operators by offering a fleet management solution,” says Omondi
IT (data and communication) service providers
According to a recent OECD report, physical ICT infrastructures such as wireless networks and cables are important for essential information dissemination, from schedules, destinations, and fares. Application Programming Interface (API) also helps to determine the communication methods that allow public retrieval. To deliver on its value proposition, BuuPass has long partnered with Safaricom, East Africa’s largest mobile network operator, to provide hosting, security and flexible digital payments through M-Pesa.
Mobility service providers
As a mobility service provider, BuuPass aggregates key information, ranging from data including location, time, and price, relevant for travellers and authorities to execute regulatory functions.
With over 400,000 bus users, more than 420 buses in operation and 115 routes covered, BuuPass’ all-in-one platform is demonstrating its capacity to alleviate the hurdles of transport operators and at the same time facilitate the convenience of commuters.
What, then, are the plans for the future of digital mobility in Africa?
In a recent networking event held by BuuPass dubbed “Driving Excellence and Maximizing Profits in Bus Operations” which saw many key players in the transport industry in Kenya meet to discuss the advancements of the digital transportation sector, Neddy Munyasi, Commercial Vertical Lead – Multinational Corporations at SAFARICOM shared that “One of the key things that Safaricom has done is to drive the use of cashless methods in terms of collecting revenue in the transport industry, more specifically in the bus industry. For the bus industry, we have integrated our M-pesa systems such that one can book a ticket online and make a purchase immediately. We are also working on initiatives to enhance business analytics solutions for bus operators, and also providing IoT solutions that help to manage fleets, abide by policies by regulators and government, and also check on fuel efficiency”.
BuuPass’ web platform enables long-distance transport operators to digitise and manage their services, inventory and sales, minimise cash leakages, and run seamless online bookings through its Bus Management System (BMS). Lazarus Thuo, Director – Greenline Safaris, who happened to be a panelist at the networking event commended BuuPass, “Since we started using the online ticketing platform by BuuPass, our business has been very easy, especially on the management side. I just need my phone to monitor operations from any part of the country I’m in. Record keeping is also very easy as it enables one get manifests easily, track staff, drivers and also income and expenditure. Now that I’m using BuuPass, my operations are so easy – for example, I don’t need to have an IT Department. For anyone in the transport industry, digital is the way to go as it simplifies multiple operations while saving time.”
NTSA’s Director of ICT and Innovation, Nashon Kondiwa, also applauded BuuPass, stating that in addition, the government parastatal is using data analytics to monitor motorist conduct throughout the country. ”People that use technology in conjunction with data analytics can save up to 30% on costs. Other initiatives we are looking at include making speed limiters more intelligent and more of a data-analytics based device, to increase safety on the road. We are looking at monitoring speed on roads from a more dynamic perspective,” Nashon remarked.
The event brought together an array of industry experts, stakeholders, and passionate professionals who collectively ignited a thought-provoking dialogue on the challenges and growth opportunities within the bus transportation sector.
BuuPass, which provides a seamless and comprehensive online ticketing platform, exemplifies the disruptive impact of digital solutions in the transportation sector. The software, hailed as a game changer by its users, has transformed the way Kenyans interact with public transport. BuuPass has not only simplified the passenger experience but also provided bus operators with effective management tools by giving a handy avenue for ordering tickets and managing travel plans from the convenience of a smartphone.
BuuPass’ innovative approach is propelling the transportation industry towards a more digitally connected future, transforming how Kenyans travel and interact with public transit networks. The firm plans to spread its wings across Africa, having already commenced operations in Uganda, and soon expanding into other African markets in the near future.