Netcoms, a Gweru-based software company, is hoping they can eliminate the struggle of always keeping some cash with you for transport. I’m sure the majority of us have misplaced some coins that we had stashed in a pocket or bag as transport money at one point or another. Netcom is introducing a new tap and go smart card that you can use to pay kombi fares.
When will we be able to tap and go?
Testing will begin in Gweru as the system is already being installed on kombis according to Netcoms research and development officer, Mr Lovejoy Matare. The system will then come to Harare and Bulawayo before being deployed in more places if adoption is positive.
You may be thinking why would they start in Gweru and not the bigger cities? Well, I think starting in Gweru allows them to better track the system’s reception and performance as Gweru has far fewer routes than Harare or Bulawayo. Coming directly to Harare or Bulawayo during the testing phase could be a logistical nightmare as the number of routes that need to be tracked would multiply significantly.
The Gweru testing phase could also allow them to push a more polished product once they come to the bigger cities. However, this is all speculation on my part and they could be starting out in Gweru for other reasons.
With the tap and go card the burden of securing cash will be lessened on both the citizens and the government. This could also accelerate Zimbabwe’s transition to a cashless economy. Obviously, these are all things that can only be really gauged after the system is adopted so let’s wait and see.
Hopefully, the system does not suffer the same fate as the last innovation we saw in the transportation system: The Wi-Fi in a kombi system by Econet. I wouldn’t go as far as saying that system is dead but I have never been in a kombi that uses the system so make of that what you will.
A bit of background on Netcom…
Netcom is a subsidiary of TM Holding and their focus is on technology: particularly on software and services. They also offer other software solutions which include a GPS tracking system. Netcom is working with Pascal Technologies for transfer of technology. Pascal Technology is a Rwandan company and the tap and go system is widely used in Rwanda. The tap and go system covers 97% of the routes in Kigali, Rwanda’s capital so it’s been successfully deployed elsewhere.–techzim