Ugandan motorists turn to mobile app to find cheap fuel

Motorists in Uganda’s capital Kampala are turning to a mobile app known as Mafuta Go that shows availability and prices of fuel at different stations, as constant fuel shortages hit the country.

Mafuta Go shows the exact location of petrol stations on a map where fuel can be found, and how much it costs, giving motorists a chance to find the cheapest rate within their vicinity.

It is already popular with Ugandan motorbike taxi drivers (called Boda bodas), who are looking to save every shilling on fuel costs. Boda bodas are the most popular means of movement for people around Kampala.

“Mafuta Go is a Ugandan-made app that delivers Ugandan data, to meet a Ugandan need,” Christine Amphaire, Project Manager Mafuta Go, told AlJazeera.

One of the main problems that faces Ugandan motorists is the constant fuel shortages, and when this happens the few petrol stations that still have fuel usually hike their prices. The application will therefore give the motorist the power to find cheaper fuel through embracing technology.

Despite such good applications being rolled out in the market, there remains a big technological gap between the phones on which the applications operate on, and the phones being used by the larger population.

Most of the current applications mainly run on smartphones, while the larger percent of the 700 million African phone subscribers use feature phones. Smartphone penetration on the continent currently stands at 5.1 percent, representing the lowest smartphone penetration in the world.

However, the application developers may be looking to the future, basing their applications on research that predicts that smartphone penetration will be 15 percent of the African mobile market by 2014, 23 percent by 2015 and 40 percent in five years time.

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