21st Century Transport Apps in South Africa

If you are stuck in South Africa without your own car, it can be hard work. For anyone who has been stuck in a South African city trying to catch a cab is a very difficult job for those unfamiliar with the environment. However, that is all set to change with a new range of applications for your phone which can actually hail a cab for you.
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They work using GPS technology, meaning they are able to actively locate the nearest available cab to your position. There are quite a few different companies targeting this space including Zapacab, Snappcab and Afta Robot to name a few. Zapacab seems to be leading the way in South Africa though, releasing the first cab hailing application last summer. Many more people now have smart phones so the economics of these applications is starting to make real sense.

The primary goals of the application are efficiency and safety. Obviously it’s far more efficient for a taxi to pick up a nearby fare than to drive across town, which save time and money for the user as well. The user is also aware of the drivers name and cab before they are picked up and a record remains of the journey which should discourage the practice of making unnecessary diversions to bump up the fare.

These are local firms who are creating these applications so they are tailored for the South African market, however there are companies trying to create global applications like this. Uber have also launched an application in South Africa, which is tailored for the luxury market.

You can try these applications out for yourself or check the local media to get some feedback on them. As always if travelling be careful how you user your smartphone and internet connections. Try and avoid using untrusted wifi networks when accessing personal or private data, it’s a smart move to use a secure vpn or proxy service like this.

James Greenhoff is a regular contributor to this and other blogs/online publications. He also records and distributes technology videos like this one demonstrating how to buy proxy connections for use when travelling.

Internet Usage in Africa

There are many people who believe that one of the biggest chances that Africa has to develop and vastly improve the standard of living there is the internet.  There is no doubt that throughout the world there is a huge correlation between successful developed countries and internet usage in those countries.  Of course you could argue that it is merely representative of previous success which enables the infrastructure to be developed and implemented.  However I believe that is far too simplistic.

The internet is more than a way to keep up with your friends or waste a few hours browsing around.  The internet is the most powerful, market place for skills, goods and services that there has ever been.  There is simply no sort of physical business that can’t benefit from some sort of internet presence and literally millions of businesses that simply exist online with no physical location. For Africa this is important, one of the biggest obstacles faced by the African entrepreneur is the lack of seed or investment funding to start a business.  African banks have simply not provided this service in the past although thankfully it is changing.   However an internet business can be started for virtually nothing, time and effort goes a long way online and it’s a great way for an entrepreneur to start and make a worthwhile living.

It can be used to promote or develop a localised business or with a little investment in things like proxies or VPNs as illustrated here, you can reach markets globally.  However if you look at some of the statistics representing internet usage in Africa you can see a worrying trend developing.  Have a look at some of the stats on this site – Africa Internet Usage, you can see that internet penetration is dominated by the traditional economic successes in Africa.  Countries like Egypt and South Africa have a very high proportion of internet users, also Kenya has invested heavily in an usable infrastructure.  However the largest by far is that of Nigeria where at least a proportion of the massive oil revenues has been utilised to improve internet availability.   These countries alone have well over 50% of the internet users in Africa, but places like the Congo or Ethiopia have a depressingly small amount of internet users.

Of course the internet is going to solve all these countries problems but falling behind in yet another economic advantage isn’t going to help them either.

Further Reading