Toby Shapshak, the editor and publisher of Stuff Magazine South Africa, gave a Ted X talk in 2014, in which he talked about how Africa is innovating out of necessity. A new web based app called Phambili app does exactly that by helping commuters who are seated in the front seat of taxis to calculate change for other commuters.
The well known rule in taxis is that the commuters in the front seats calculate the change for that trip. In Cape Town, taxis have taxi conductors doing the job, but in cities like Johannesburg it is left to the front seat commuters to do it. This is not always an easy task, with commuters going to different places, paying different fares, the calculating gets complicated.
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The app addresses a problem that has existed for a long time and yet has remained without any solutions.
Thokozani Memela, the inventor of the app, said he developed the app following an encounter he had in a taxi recently
“I recently missed out on an opportunity because someone in the front of the taxi struggled doing a job most people hate, counting change” he wrote on his Facebook page.
Taking a taxi, one of the most used forms of public transport in South Africa, can be daunting. Add in the burden of sitting in the front seat with the responsibility of calculating the change for all the commuters and your day can move from a pleasant commute to work, home, mall etc to an unbearable experience.
Counting the change is not a small matter, not with commuters yelling at you to give them their change and the driver getting impatient with you. The Phambili app wants to solve this problem by helping commuters count the change in an effortless way.
The app has an simple interface and functionality. Users enter the taxi fare for the trip, add the number of people that have paid, the amount they have paid and the app calculates the change. The app also tells the users how much the driver’s money will be all together.
The app is also a building a database of routes and their costs.
“Phambili is working on a system which will use the information gathered from the community (which includes you) to deliver details about how much taxi’s cost and where to get them. To achieve this however, we need as many people as possible to use the website regularly so spread the word to your friends, family and haters”
The app is still new but it looks impressive, it works and does exactly what it claims to do.