ICT Clinic (Punch Newspaper)

Bike hailing services ban and impact on the ecosystem [ICT Clinic]

I have spent the major part of my adulthood, as a key mouthpiece, for the tech ecosystem, via various platforms that I happen to be a part of. What has driven me, to have stayed on course, this long is, the fact that, as someone, who is passionate, about technology, I am clear about the fact that it has the potentials, to help transform Nigeria, to the kind of country that, some of us truly desire.

I am getting increasingly tired of living in a country that possesses so, much human potential yet it is termed the poverty capital of the world. It is too bad that as a country, we usually take one step forward and jump 20 steps backwards.

How can we keep going around in circles and hope to develop, especially in the game of technology that changes after every six months, at the very least?

The Lagos State Government decided to implement an old traffic law to keep bikes off the roads and gave only a few days’ notice. Now, what happens to thousands of people who would lose their means of livelihood? How about start-ups that have invested in commercial bikes and are already bringing some sanity into that space? They are now wondering what next to do.

These are investors, who have decided to pitch their investment tent in ‘the Giant of Africa’, which Ghana has overtaken in attracting foreign direct investments. They will most likely be regretting their choices and wondering, how they can make a quick exit from all this. Indirect effects of the ban or restrictions, such as an increase in crime and other social vices are also staring us in the face.

Today’s piece is just to let policymakers understand that every single move or decision they make, has far-reaching effects and consequences on our national existence. We should not be seen to be solving one problem and at the same time, creating other ones with that solution. Every little detail must be considered when decisions are taken.

Two things worry me the most about this ban. First is the fact that a lot of people have lost their means of livelihood, and I can’t see a tenable alternative for them and secondly, it is bad news for the ecosystem, which I represent. Why would an investor from Silicon Valley, London or Berlin, put money in another edtech, or, agrictech start-up in Nigeria, when he has no guarantee that six months later, some government officials, for some reason or would not enact and enforce laws that will put their investments in jeopardy? We are talking about an industry, where players have already created thousands of jobs and invested millions of dollars. Should the ideal thing not be to work with them, to find ways to use technology to further bring sanity to the industry?

Can the government come up with the statistics of accidents caused by these start-up riders, compared to those caused by the regular ‘Okadas’, over a particular period of time? I saw one government infographic, which mentioned that Okada is Okada, no matter what name it is called. Well, I disagree. For example, whoever came up with that statement can as well say that a taxi is a taxi, but anyone who uses any of the popular ride-hailing platforms, know that it is not true.

Here is an excerpt of a report by The Punch, a few days ago, quoting the CEO of Gokada, Fahim Saleh, as saying, “Since we re-launched in September 2019, — Finish Reading on the Punch

About the author

Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata Jnr

CFA hosts Tech Trends on Channels Television, writes the ICT Column in the Punch Newspapers & also blogs on cfagbata.com.

CFA currently serves as the African Regional Director of Founder Institute.

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