How tech is tracking Africa’s motorbike taxis

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Boda bodas are synonymous with life in East Africa, and in bustling cities like Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam, these motorbike taxis are the best way to weave your way to your destination.

For millions of Africans, boda bodas are a primary mode of transport and a vital means of income. The sector is about to experience a wave of fresh innovation, with blockchain technology set to provide real-time tracking of vehicles financed by asset financing company Watu.

Motorbike taxis, known as boda bodas, are a primary means of transport in Uganda. Source: Entebbe Airport Express

In an announcement shared with Cointelegraph, Watu outlined a new partnership with Nodle’s blockchain-powered decentralized physical infrastructure network (DePIN) to enhance vehicle tracking of motorbikes it has financed.

Related: IoT project turns smartphones into blockchain nodes to broaden connectivity

Watu has provided loans to over one million Africans in seven countries, allowing individuals to access finance to purchase motorcycles and offer taxi services.

Noodle’s DePIN infrastructure will power real-time location data for the vehicles, aimed at protecting owners in case of theft and helping Watu have better visibility of the assets it has financed.

The project will start in Uganda in May 2024 and expand to Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of theCongo over the next few months.

Data visualization of Nodle’s network coverage in Uganda. Source: Nodle Explorer

The Watu asset location solution will be built on the Nodle Network, a decentralized mobile network where users’ smartphones act as nodes in a secure DePIN.

Nodle’s DePIN operates on smartphones and is touted to provide wide coverage and precise tracking due to the ubiquity of smartphones and advanced geolocation capabilities.

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Nodle co-founder and CEO Micha Benoliel said the partnership with Watu will significantly boost the deployment of the network in Africa. He added that smartphones will account for 88% of mobile connections by 2030, up from the present rate of 50%.

Watu head of GPS tracking Gunars Bidins said that Nodle’s network is ideally suited for Watu’s asset management needs:

“This collaboration allows us to track our asset fleet more efficiently and cost-effectively, ensuring the safety and security of our assets across our expanding African operations.”

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Nodle’s chief product officer, Florent Stroppa, believes the use case explored with Watu demonstrates DePIN’s benefits to economies and society. He said that the crowdsourced network will allow new services to be deployed quickly and cost-effectively:

“In this particular instance, the technology is used to track assets that are usually difficult to locate. We are really excited to work with Watu in this deployment.”

DePINs are a fast-growing sector of the blockchain industry. The technology is being used to source cloud computing resources through projects like io.net and a host of other real-world use cases recently explored in the latest podcast episode of Decentralize with Cointelegraph.

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