A new wave of smartphone applications has facilitated transportation within South Africa. The first of these, Uber, is an application used worldwide that allows users to be driven to their destination in luxury vehicles. Though Uber is popular, it is less useful among the common South African population.
Uber set the stage for other transportation applications including Zapacab and Snappcab.
Zapacab’s founder, Rupert Sully, created the cab-hailing application in order to satisfy South Africans’ needs to use “their phones in smarter and smarter ways.” Zapacab is the first cab-hailing platform that was launched this past August and allows users to “zap” a nearby cab and receive a text message when the driver arrives.
Snappcab works in a similar fashion to Zapacab; however, it includes more safety precautions. Because public transportation can be used for kidnapping and abduction, it is important to ensure that the vehicle is a registered form of transportation. Snappcab makes this background check easier by providing the user with the cab driver’s name, photograph and vehicle photograph.
Users can also contact the driver directly and plot their trip on the Snappcab map. In order to ensure that the cab driver is not taking any unnecessary detours, the trip is recorded on the application. This technology could transform South Africa’s transportation system but will first require that the cab drivers be taught how to use the applications.
Sully of Zapacab ensures that “they [the drivers] are very comfortable with the whole concept that these markets are becoming more tech-savvy”.
Though cabs are a popular method of transportation, most South Africans use minibuses, buses or trains more often. The Innovation Hub, a community of innovative companies, has funded Snappcab and other transportation-related platforms in an effort to encourage the technological advancement of the cheaper forms of public transportation, including trains and buses.
Both Zapacab and Snappcab plan to expand outside of South Africa.
– Lienna Feleke-Eshete