Cashless transport in Rwanda
06 November 2023
06 November 2023
Rwanda is grappling with high youth unemployment, currently standing at around 21 per cent. Additionally, approximately 60 per cent of employed youth are engaged in low-productivity jobs like subsistence agriculture, retail, and construction. This problem is exacerbated by rapid changes in the global economy, which are causing global labour market skill demands to change quickly.
To address these challenges, young people in Rwanda need to be provided with opportunities for skills development that fits the need of the labour market. By acquiring the right skills, young people can engage in higher-quality employment and personal growth within the formal sector.
In today's global economy and labour market, Information and Communication Technology (ICT) skills play a crucial role, making them a decisive factor for both competing and participating. Equipping youth and low-skilled workers with sought-after entrepreneurial skills relevant to the ICT sector for example provides access to better-paying job opportunities.
Investing in digital skills and infrastructure is vital to achieving Rwanda's vision of becoming an ICT hub and a digital, knowledge-based economy. Centrika, a Rwandan company focused on financial technology, has partnered with Invest for Jobs to modernise Rwanda's traditional cash-based transport fare collection system by upskilling unemployed youth to become agents assisting commuters in electronic ticket booking and payment. The transition from cash to electronic channels such as bus cards improves efficiency and creates job opportunities for unemployed youth. By investing in skills development and embracing digital technologies, Rwanda can tackle youth unemployment and establish itself as a leading digital economy in the region.
With the support of Invest for Jobs, Centrika provided comprehensive training, materials, venues, laptops, and handheld payment terminal to recruit and train 450 ticket agents. External consultants conducted training sessions covering topics like business registration, basics of management and finance, taxation, and entrepreneurship. The trainings took place in September 2021 in the Musanze district and in December 2021 in the Kayonza district, equipping agents to operate the cashless transport system. Agents have been operational since the completion of trainings in December 2022.
The implementation of the cashless system involves issuing dual interface SafariBus cards to nationwide commuters, enabling them to conduct transport-related transactions and other financial transactions, such as payments at restaurants and shopping malls, using Bank Card Machines and Unified Payments Interface services that can unify a number of bank accounts into one application.
Centrika's objective is to have two agents stationed at each of the 225 bus stops in Rwanda, resulting in a total target of 450 agents. Agents earn a fair commission of their daily transactions, which results in them enjoying an above-average salary. In areas where SafariBus card usage is not yet introduced, agents issue paper tickets and receive a 1 per cent commission per ticket issued from bus operators. Compliance with the minimum wage requirement for agents is monitored through the SafariBus platform, designed to help both commuters and bus operators adhere to government regulations.
The SafariBus system facilitates transport and financial transactions worldwide. After acquiring the card in local Safaribus branches or online, it can be used for transport, ATM withdrawals, online shopping payments, and payments at POS merchants by presenting the card to Agents or to card machines. Funds are loaded onto the SafariBus card using MTN, Airtel Momo, Visa, and Mastercard through agents trained by Centrika with the support of Invest for Jobs.
Since the implementation of the cashless transport system in 2022 it has yielded several notable benefits. One of the key advantages is the expedited boarding process, as commuters no longer need to search for exact change or wait for the bus driver to provide change. This has resulted in reduced delays and improved overall efficiency.
Furthermore, Centrika's digital solution has effectively mitigated the risks associated with traditional payment methods. By eliminating the handling of cash by drivers, the system minimises opportunities for theft and fraudulent transactions, thereby enhancing security.
Upon completion in December 2022, the project has exceeded its initial goal of training 450 agents for the cashless transport system, with over 480 agents successfully recruited and trained. These agents, employed and trained by Centrika, undertake various tasks related to the cashless transport project around the bus stations – including topping up SafariBus cards and issuing tickets to commuters. Centrika ensures the availability of necessary equipment such as POS systems and guarantees the user-friendliness and stability of the SafariBus system. Additionally, Centrika provides remuneration to agents involved in SafariBus card top-ups.
The cooperation with Invest for Job was sustainable and continues through the project partner’s independent implementation: Even after the completion of the project, Centrika keeps training and employing agents, further enhancing the accessibility of the cashless transport system to the public.
To implement this project, Centrika was supported by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH in the context of Invest for Jobs on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
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