Tuesday, November 13, 2018
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Last February 26, Transport Minister Robert Nkili issued a decree stipulating the imminent imposition of GPS tracking devices on taxis plying the streets of the capital Yaounde.  Among others, the measure is aimed at combatting rising insecurity in the urban transport milieu.  While commuters are applauding the move expected to go nationwide, urban transporters are grumbling over additional installation and service costs.  Dickson M. Otu is a South Africa-based Cameroonian and one of the Directors and CEO of the multinational software, local and wide area networks developer SMART QUICK TECHNOLOGIES (SQT AFRICA).  He says the vehicle tracking GPS system is not only within reach, but can be deployed nationwide at a go.  He was interviewed via email by CameroonPostline.com’s Divine Ntaryike Jr.

Dickson M. Otu, South Africa-based Camerooonian entrepreneur

How do you appraise the decision to impose GPS Tracking System on township taxis in Yaounde?

I totally agree with the minister with this decision.  We are now in the 21st century which is an era for Information Technology.  This will open doors for other good initiatives around the transport system in Cameroon.  This initiative will give comfort to commuters and the government will actually know the total number of cabs running in the city since there will be a database created.


Do you think it is a feasible measure? In other words, is Cameroon ready for such technology?

Yes of course.  It is very feasible and especially with the presence of MTN and Orange, it’s doable.  The implementation of this technology will run on the existing mobile networks infrastructure of either MTN or Orange.  Cameroon has the manpower and we could transfer the technical skills for installation and support to the locals hence creating jobs and empowering the people.

Can you briefly explain how the technology works?

At this point I will not be able to disclose much information about our technology to the media because the information constitutes the company’s trade secrets.  But basically, a unit is installed in the vehicle in such a way that neither its owner nor the driver will know its position.  The unit comes with a backup battery providing energy for about eight hours, meaning even if the battery is disconnected the unit will be able to send signals for the next eight hours to the main control center.  With our technology the control centre will be able to see the cab’s position in real time and a controller can talk to the driver thanks to a two-way radio.   The car can be switched off from the control center just using a cell phone.  Elsewhere, a server is lodged at the control center with a dedicated line operating 24/7 life via internet with a database of all the registered vehicles, including the profiles and pictures of the owners and drivers.  For all registered taxis, there’s a computerized special identification number placed in front of the cab with the picture of the driver.  This is to alert commuters and they can decide to only board cabs carrying the numbers.  There are other devices capable of transmitting both signal and video live and recording at same time.  At any given time the owner can log on to the cab remotely via his computer or smart phone for life videos and see where the cab is and how many passengers are on board.  The advantage of the video gadget is to help address the issue of corruption as police officers will not be able to extort money from the taxi drivers because every action will be recorded and the owner will have total control of the driver’s daily activities.

Is it within reach of Cameroonian cab owners and drivers?  How much will they averagely spend to get and install the system?

The device will cost money.  At this point, it is difficult to state the exact price due to so many factors – firstly due to the fluctuation of the dollar vis-à-vis the FCFA; and secondly due to initial quantity ordered.  All these will have great influence on the price.  But generally, the bigger the quantity ordered, the more the discount realized.

Do they have to pay monthly charges to service provider?

There will be no monthly fees.  At SQT, for example, we prefer a one-off payment.  The only cost that will be incurred will be for the SMS usage by owners to know the position of the cab.  It will be a prepaid service in talk time.

Are you contemplating coming to advertise your company’s know-how?  What experience does your company have in this field?

The reason why I left Cameroon was to come and acquire skills and take it back home to empower and develop my country and this might just be one of them.  I will be more than happy to work with other partners via a joint venture or investment in my company.  As we speak right now my company has just finished developing a software for a particular market.  And we have been given a mandate to look for interested partners in Africa in a renewable energy technology called EMG (electric magnetic generator) – a generator that produces light without using petrol or diesel.  It is amazing and has the potential to encourage Africans change their mindsets from a consuming economy to a manufacturing one.  Smart does have the expertise and in-depth experience for services and equipments supplied.  The CEO has eleven years of practical experience in the industry; the technical director has 15 years of experience with certifications while the Business Developer/business analyst has a degree (BTech) from Durban University of Technology (DUT) with distinctions in Information Technology and is also studying towards Masters with the University of South Africa (UNISA).  The company has invested in technical equipments like faultfinder (OTDR machine) for fiber optics and CCTV testers, just to name a few.  In areas that are not of our specialty we do partner with a qualified and equipped company to carry on the project to completion. 


We go an extra mile to meet the client’s needs.  I will like to come back home and market my company as there is nowhere like home.  I am more than ready to showcase my company’s technical knowhow back home.  Every time I walk into a bank in Cameroon, I am appalled at the way there are structured with little or no better security measures.  Banks can’t operate without CCTV cameras and biometric access control systems. SQTAFRICA can set up systems in such a way that the GM sits in his Yaounde head office and streams live to a branch in Kumba, Muntengene or wherever.

How do you compare you rates to others in the field?

When it comes to rates, we are very competitive.  We make sure we offer the best quality product or service at a reasonable and competitive rate.  All our products come with 12 to 36 months warranty.  We do not compromise with quality.

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