Building a Smart Kampala Capital City: The contribution of Ride Hailing businesses

SafeBoda
3 min readSep 13, 2023

By Catherine Tulina Kafumbe, Country Director — SafeBoda

A smart city is globally defined as one that uses information and communication technologies (ICT) to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare.

A city’s smartness is determined based on a set of characteristics including Effective and highly functional public transportation system, Technology based infrastructure, Environmental initiatives, Progressive city plans, and the Ability for people to live and work within the city using its resources. Creating a Smart City depends heavily on collaboration between the public sector and private sector to develop and maintain a data driven environment.

Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA) is the corporate body responsible for administering Kampala Capital City on behalf of the Central Government. Resultantly, it carries the vision of transforming Kampala into a vibrant, attractive and sustainable city. The collaboration of KCCA with critical stakeholders then further develops the strong chain required to build a Smart Kampala.

Considering that a Smart City is built for the benefit of the citizens who occupy it, it is important to appreciate what citizens need from a Smart City. According to the KCCA Smart City strategy, citizens’ needs from a Smart City include the following:

  • Improved mobility and transportation networks
  • Enhanced electronic services
  • Quick service turn around times
  • Good communication
  • Citizen engagement and participation in development of the city
  • Improved Governance and accountability to citizens

On the other hand, is the KCCA strategy for a Smart City which is based on the following pillars:

  • Smart transport
  • Safe City
  • Smart payments
  • IT Infrastructure
  • Smart communities and social services
  • Smart Education
  • Contact Center
  • Smart planning
  • Modern Data Centre

An analysis of the citizen’s needs and the KCCA strategic pillars with a specific focus on building an effective and highly functional public transportation system indicates the critical role of ride hailing companies in the transformation journey. Ride Hails are technology-based transportation companies which provide safe, reliable, and affordable transportation services to Ugandans through its smartphone mobile application network with trained and certified boda-boda riders and car drivers. e.g. SafeBoda, Uber, among others.

Below is an indication of the specific areas of contribution by ride hails like which relate to Infrastructure and creation of a visually smart and clean city, with digitized services for public transport. A demonstration of ways in which ride hailing can contribute to better implementation of the KCCA strategy for a Smart City.

  1. Safe transport services which can be easily accessed by App with traceability of trips.
  2. Use of the Apps creates opportunities for cashless transactions for both customers and riders.
  3. Apps based transport services increase the use of mobile technology which is necessary for a smart city beyond transportation.
  4. Use of algorithms to connect customers to riders who can pick them up from their location instead of walking to a stage.
  5. Ability to navigate heavy road traffic using the App.
  6. Raise awareness of operating standards, conduct training on the regulations applicable and digital literacy training for riders.
  7. A call center for feedback and inquiries or collection of information/feedback from riders under the company’s network.
  8. Use of data gathered from the Apps to inform decision making, traffic management automation

The above functions of ride hailing feed into KCCA’s core pillars of Smart transportation, Safe City, IT Infrastructure, Smart Planning, Smart payments as indicated.

Analysis of the above shows how practical joint activities of the Ride Hails and KCCA can foster development of a Smart Kampala. Therefore, for the Smart City status to be achieved, the duty bearers are called upon to create an environment of collaboration with ride hails.

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