Technological leaps in transport have led to countless fantasies – self-driving cars, pods on rails – most of which haven’t come to Africa but Rwanda has decided to be the first African country to have one card for public transport in the entire city.
One of the key pillars of national development particularly for financial institutions and economy is a cashless economy with less paper and coins and more online transactions which reduces cash management costs and makes lending and borrowing from banks much easier.
In 2011, Kigali Bus Services launched a card system named “Twende” that made payment on the buses very easy and quick and greatly improved service to the clients.
This year, the card is being re-launched again with the “one city one card” which we have admired in different developed countries.
The Twende name comes from a Swahili word meaning “Let’s go” and with the new tap and go system, the queues are greatly reduced and everyone using the buses is ready to go.
The Twende card has a claimed proximity range of about 80 mm (3 inches). The card operates as a RFIC system. You tap and pay. The validators do read if the card has money on it or not and one is left to get on or stopped.
AirClerk Ltd, the company in charge of the rollout, says the top-up of the card will also be done remotely without necessarily making long lines with a top-up agent.
“Passengers can also pay for a daily pass, weekly pass as well as monthly pass and don’t have to worry about transport fare for the rest of the month,” says the technical team of the company.
The Twende system is based on an open lope architecture with card readers on all the bus companies operating in Kigali namely KBS, Royal Express and RFTC. All a passenger has to do is have one Twende card and with validators installed on all the buses, they can tap with the same card on any of the buses and go.
The package bought for a day, week or month will work on any of the buses.
In Hong Kong the equivalent of the Twende card, launched in 1997, is now used by 95% of the population for everything from buying a cup of coffee to parking fees, and even as a key card for apartments.
Rwanda is aiming for a similar revolution here with the Twende.