By Gabriella Milligan – From This Is Africa (Urban Traffic)
The scenes of Lagos’s gridlocked rush hour roads are infamous.
Staggering numbers of cars and buses puff out fumes, intermingling with reckless motorbike taxis, street hawkers and colourful graffiti-clad minibuses. The scene repeats itself in cities across Africa, where road infrastructure has failed to keep pace with urbanisation and car ownership.
City roads in Africa are not just crowded. They have the world’s highest regional road fatality rate. The majority of African countries record road death numbers are far above global averages.
According to the World Health Organisation, the African region sees an average of 24.1 deaths per 100,000 people. The global average is just 18. In Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa, for instance, Facebook pages are dedicated to documenting absurdly overloaded vehicles and terrible driving.
Change is afoot, however, thanks to a number of innovative startups, These companies are looking to address Africa’s traffic congestion, safety, and emissions problems through mobile technology.
Power of the crowd
Kenya’s Ma3Route uses crowdsourcing to create a pool of real time information on road conditions, traffic events – such as accidents – and driver safety.
The platform aims to solve the mobility issues facing Nairobi, the capital‘s three million road users who drive 400,000 vehicles on the city’s roads each day.
The company operates a web platform, mobile app, and SMS-based service that allows users to send in road information they come across on their journeys. This information is accessible to all members of the community in real time, allowing them to make decisions on which routes to avoid due to congestion or which minibus drivers are thought to be drunk driving.
The service is proving popular. Ma3Route has more than 500,000 users to date. Stephane Eboko, the company’s chief revenue officer, says the key to their rapid success is the services relevance to its users and accessibility across multiple platforms.
“Crowdsourcing has the advantage of leveraging hyper-local and contextualised information that is simultaneously originating from and relevant to the people who directly use it,” he explains.
“It’s a two-way communication model where content providers are also consumers, with a powerful network effect that gathers a community around common concerns.”
Read more at This Is Africa