Sebenza and Santaco partnership fuels transformation in taxi industry

This landmark agreement will assist in bridging the digital divide while solving legacy issues in the taxi Wi-Fi space

Sebenza has secured the right to roll out its free Wi-Fi to the taxi industry, as the preferred partner to Santaco
Image: Supplied

In SA, where millions of people depend on public transport daily, staying connected can be a challenge. But since 2019, Sebenza has changed the game with its free Wi-Fi and content services for commuters. The web-based application has been the only platform to successfully integrate into more than 7,000 vehicles nationally.

Sebenza’s re-engineered platform provides an immersive experience for users, brands and product developers with its robust social engagement, gaming, education, jobs and more.

Sebenza’s innovation and commitment to bridging the digital divide attracted the attention of Taxi Choice, the business arm of the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco). The two have partnered to fuel transformation in SA’s taxi industry.

“A trusted partnership with Sebenza is valuable for several reasons,” says Themba Mazibuko, CEO of Taxi Choice. “Representing 95% of the industry, Taxi Choice has the trust of the industry. This is the same trust we place in Sebenza to help us reach greater goals beyond creating a safe, efficient and affordable taxi industry.”

Taxi Choice was established in 2003 to formalise and professionalise the South African taxi industry. It offers fleet management, e-ticketing, training and advocacy services. Taxi Choice spearheaded the innovative FairPay e-ticketing system, training thousands of industry members and advocating for improved regulations.

By equipping the industry with essential tools and resources, Taxi Choice contributes to its efficiency, safety and reliability. Its advocacy has improved the regulatory environment, facilitating industry growth. The partnership with Sebenza accelerates the growth and innovation capabilities of the industry.

“We have been on the road with Sebenza and their rollout across SA and have been part of successful case studies where they’ve solved legacy issues in the taxi Wi-Fi space,” says Mazibuko. “They have implemented trusted systems, teams and technology to deliver free Wi-Fi and content, connecting people to bridge the digital divide in a world that demands internet access as a necessity. As a preferred partner, noticing how Sebenza has scaled, we’re excited about greater expansion for the people.”

Sebenza founders Calvin Le Mottée and Wesley Dorning tested their first 30 taxis in Hammanskraal in 2019 and another 70 in Northgate in 2020. The results spurred their ambition, and by the end of 2021 Sebenza had installed routers in just over 600 taxis nationwide.

In 2022, they focused on growing their footprint outside Gauteng and reached 2,000 taxis. Sebenza also expanded into buses in 2022 while continuing to scale taxi installations. The partnership with Santaco is a result of Sebenza’s ability to deliver on its immersive digital ecosystem and its focus on empowering commuters. 

As a valuable resource for the taxi industry, Santaco: 

  • advocates the taxi industry’s interests, lobbying the government on behalf of the industry;
  • delivers training and development programmes for taxi drivers and operators, helping to improve the skills and knowledge of the industry’s workforce;
  • promotes safety and efficiency in the industry, focusing on initiatives that reduce crime and violence, improve road safety and make taxi services more reliable; and
  • works to improve the image of the taxi industry by engaging in public relations and marketing campaigns that promote it as safe, reliable and affordable.

“Sebenza looked at the UN Sustainable Development Goals for SA and dug deep to build something that reduces inequality, delivers quality education and facilitates economic growth. By the end of 2023, Sebenza will have 8,000 taxis and buses nationwide. By the end of 2022, we had already hit the 2-million user mark. Sebenza has big goals and we are confident that, in partnership with Santaco, they will be fulfilled,” says LeMottée.

“That is why we’ve focused our platform innovations around delivering these goals,” adds Dorning. 

“Sebenza is leading digital inclusivity. By providing connectivity and a commuter-focused platform, we are levelling the playing field. Sebenza is more than just free Wi-Fi; we are always striving to create value for communities by offering content, connectivity, education, job-seeking and more.”

Together, Santaco and Sebenza’s efforts play a significant role in accelerating digital innovation and inclusion for an enhanced commuter journey. This is a game-changer.

The article originally appeared on Sowetan Live.