Rwanda: Start-Up Yego Moto Launches a Licensed Motorcycle Taxi Service in Kigali With 15,000 Drivers and Has Expansion Ambitions for More East African Countries and E-Commerce

Two announcements this week saw the buzzing hornets of Africa's urban transport system in the news. Uganda's Tugende got OPIC finance for lease-to-own financing for boda drivers and from the same country Safe Boda has decided to launch services in Kenya. Russell Southwood spoke to Karanvir Singh, CEO, Yego Moto in Rwanda about setting up the world's first IoT platform for motorcycle taxis.

After a trial with 600 motorcycle drivers in the Autumn of 2017 in Kigali, the Government of Rwanda licensed Yego Moto. It launched in January 2018 with 15,000 motorcycle taxis. By the end of 2018, this service will be extended to all moto taxis across Rwanda.

In encouraging the service, the Government was concerned about two problems: security and crime (it had no idea who drivers and there are thefts from passengers) and safety (80% of accidents in the capital were caused by motos).

During the pilot, the Rwandan Government put in place a regulatory framework that makes it mandatory for drivers to have a licence: fines for not having or using a meter are harsh with the possibility of losing up to a day's takings. The boda boda drivers make a huge contribution to getting people round the city: there are 20,000 of them compared with only 600 taxis.

The drivers get a branded helmet and a smartphone that acts like a tap and pay POS. There's a simple user interface on the phone in local language, Kinyarwanda. Yego Moto has partnered with MTN so passengers can pay using their mobile wallet or Yego Moto Ride-Tap-Pay NFC tags. The NFC tags are prepaid so several stickers can be sold to a family and each person can enter the pin to authorize payment. Each ride is invoiced and drivers get their takings in their mobile wallet. Rwanda's other mobile operator Airtel is now also a partner.

For the passengers, they get a verified driver, their journey is recorded and they pay according to the metered journey. The app also has the facility to allow a friend to pay for a journey.

"(Previously) if you were a foreigner, you'd paid five times as much and often drivers didn't have change. The police also get 60-70 complaints a day. 'He took my money and ran off.' Lots of motorcycle taxis are a source of crime like theft."

At the heart of the system is an IoT device on the motorcycle taxis with a payment solution. This means that all rides can be viewed on an eight foot screen that Yego Moto has in its offices. Visitors often amazed and remark that's like something out of a James Bond movie.

From all this data collected in real time, Yego Moto will be able to expand the functionality of the platform for other services. For example, it will be able to provide data that will allow banks to credit score loan applicants. Singh sees the more successful drivers getting a loan to start another business and leaving the motos business behind.

Also drivers are the equivalent of a mobile POS so will be able to "become merchants for m-commerce and e-commerce. Yego Moto drivers could deliver things like UberEats and you could create a marketplace similar to Jumia with goods and services we can deliver". Currently the banks estimate that there are no more than 1,000 POS in the country:"When we've rolled out nationally we'll have 45,000 agents with a POS."

Singh is keen to expand across Africa, pointing out that there are 0.5 million boda bodas in Uganda with revenues estimated at US$2.45 billion. Rwanda is very much a "proof of concept" and he is speaking to the Governments of Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda.

Watch Karanvir Singh on how Yego Moto provides Rwanda's moto taxi drivers and users a better service:

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