Twende: Tanzania’s answer to Uber
Connecting riders with safe and reliable transportation through a mobile application
Tanzanian commuters in urban areas have many transportation options, including taxi cars, passenger motorcycles (bodaboda), and threewheelers (bajaj). However, accessing these vehicles can be challenging. Passengers can call to request a taxi service, but may be cheated by drivers who lie about how close they are to them, resulting in long wait times.
On the other hand, drivers can struggle to access customers. Drivers usually wait for passengers at specific taxi stands, limiting themselves to only nearby customers. A limited customer base can lead to erratic revenue for these drivers. Furthermore, many drivers struggle to maintain proper records of their trips, expenses, and revenues.
The current system also creates concerns about safety for both passengers and drivers. Some drivers are unliscensed and potentially causing traffic accidents that endanger their passengers. There have also been incidents of criminal activity that involve both taxi drivers and passengers.
Photo Credit: By KelvinJM [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], from Wikimedia Commons
The current taxi system in urban Tanzania needs improvement as the current lack of organization and accountability leads passengers to experience long wait times, limits drivers’ customer base and can even place drivers and passengers in dangerous situations.
Justin Kashaigili is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Twende Technologies Limited. As a computer scientist with expertise in software engineering, management, and entrepreneurship, he wants to use technology to connect people with safe, reliable transportation, in order to reduce road safety accidents and crimes against passengers while also helping young drivers to expand their customer base.
Twende is a mobile platform that helps passengers find verified taxi and bajaj drivers who are qualified, reliable, and safe. The platform contains a list of drivers vetted for road safety and criminal records, possession of a valid driver’s license, and proof of attendance from an approved driving school. Twende uses GPS to connect passengers with the nearest driver.
The Twende application works on smartphones that use Android OS, the most popular operating system in Tanzania. The application is available in the Google Play Store for mass use. After downloading the application, all users are identified as passengers by default. To become a designated driver, users request approval from the administrator, who then completes a vetting process before approving the request. Twende works with drivers’ associations and Local Government Authorities to assess drivers’ qualifications and criminal records. Since July 2015, Twende has built its database of vetted taxi, motorcycle, and bajaj drivers. As of November 2019 Twende had approved 4,512 drivers.
Now, when passengers need transportation in one of the serviced regions (Dar es Salaam, Arusha, Mwanza, Dodoma and Mbeya), they can use Twende to view the nearest drivers using GPS technology and Google Maps. They can then request a driver, and Twende automatically finds and alerts the nearest driver through a push notification from the app.
In November 2016, Twende introduced a mobile payment service within the app, eliminating the risks associated with cash payments for both drivers and passengers.
Outcomes and Impact
Twende has filled a gap in Tanzania’s transportation system. As of November 2019, 94,435 passengers have booked rides through the Twende platform. Feedback from Twende users via the app has shown that passengers like Twende because it enhances their safety by connecting them to competent and reliable divers.
At the same time, Twende has increased the revenues of taxi and bajaj drivers by facilitating connections with passengers and thereby expanding their customer base.
Justin Kashaigili and his team of six are the creative force behind Twende. They benefited from a USD25,000 grant from the Data for Local Impact Innovation Challenge (DLIIC). They have also received capacity building and mentorship through DLIIC, which has allowed them to develop their business plan and expand their business. Tanzania Data Lab (dLab) is sustaining the good work performed by DLI project to further engage, support, and connect Tanzanian innovators, developers, and solution providers to each other and to opportunities to make a difference in people’s lives. To learn more, visit https://dlab.or.tz/.