South Africa’s taxi industry doesn’t have the best reputation — perhaps undeservedly so — but now it’s showing that it at least has some serious tech ambitions.
According to a release sent out by the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), commuters who use minibus taxis could soon see the benefit of free Wi-Fi both in the taxis themselves and in taxi ranks.
Although the association is spearheading the initiative, it’s actually being driven by a company called Wi-Taxi (whose website currently appears to be down) and Telkom, the majority state-owned telco.
Speaking to Talk Radio 702, Santaco chief Nkululeko Buthelezi said that the service would gain its revenue from advertising and would not add to the cost of a typical commute.
South Africa is not the first country on the continent to offer such a service. In Kenya, mass transit taxis (referred to locally as Matatu) have been equipped with Wi-Fi for a little while now.
According to Bhutelezi, the service will roll out first in Gauteng, the country’s most populated province where around 5 000 taxis will be equipped with Wi-Fi capacity.
“If you walk into a taxi rank and you have access to Wi-Fi, they will be able to look for jobs and will be able to interact with their friends on a social basis.
“We believe it will contribute to the growth of the country in general, and it’s part of our contribution as the taxi industry to the development of the country,” Buthelezi said.
Let’s just hope the drivers don’t use it when they’re behind the wheel.
Image: Robert Staudhammer via Flickr.