Vairified, a tech company partnering with the city of Douala for the greater good

5 minutes

I talked about Vairified for the first time last April. I was enthusiastic and excited about the application. To me it was (and still is) a revolution. People were able to discuss, give their opinion and advise about brands, locations, information. All they had (and still have) to do was to entered the information they needed to be verified for other people having an account on the app to “vairify” it. It became very difficult for users to be fooled by adverts or people posting random stuff on serious matters over the internet since the source of verification was totally impartial and objective.

In that publication I also talked about it as a price comparison tool, another breakthrough in Cameroon, the ultimate service for people wanting to buy products at the lowest price on the market. Thanks to Vairified, it was easier to know where to buy what without leaving your bed.

People asked me why I was talking about an app, Elle Citoyenne was not supposed to be into tech, I had to limit myself to the realm I defined : citizen participation, social action, politics and all the related concepts. This is exactly what I am going to do today. I am going to talk about citizen participation and social action, nothing more, nothing less.

In less than six months, Vairified expanded and exploded. Patrick Ehode who is behind it decided not to limit his work to improving the life of people online anymore. He stepped into the “real” world and tackled one of the greatest issue in Cameroon : insecurity. The country has been ranked among the most dangerous countries of the planet. Thieves are everywhere, ready to kill to get a cell phone or a handbag.  They are everywhere, especially in taxis.

Taxis are the most used means of transportation in Cameroon. Unlike in Senegal for example, taxis are shared with strangers, the best cover for bandits. They pretend to be passengers and assault people. They  steal, rape, stab and even kill. As I stated this morning in a tweet, insecurity is one of the many reasons why I left the country without thinking twice. I was marked by thieves entering our home with guns, terrorising everybody.

Patrick Ehode and his team launched in April 20, 2016 the service Taxi Vairified in collaboration with 600 taxis in Douala and Yaounde. The goal is twofold. The first target is to guarantee safety to passengers. Vairified “vairifies” taxi drivers, checks their details to make sure they are reliable and traceble, and then provide them with a number sticked on the dashboard of the car for passengers to be able to identify them anytime and report in case something goes wrong. It is possible for users to recommend taxi drivers through the ID number provided by Vairified and share their experience through the app.

The second target is to improve the quality of services offered by taxi drivers in Cameroon. Cedric Obounou, one of Elle Citoyenne’s contributors, spoke at length here about the poor services Cameroonians have to make do with when it comes to taxis. It is now possible to get a cab through the application and get it to come and pick you up wherever you are and drop you wherever you go. The price for such services, 1 500 FCFA, may seem a lot for some, but it is also possible to share a taxi with people for 500 FCFA. Since the taxi has an ID number, reporting any misbehavior is quite easy.

“Vairified is about giving the right information for people to take decisions. At Vairified, we want to do it at a large scale in order for each and everyone to benefit from our work. We started with a social approach to enable people to verify information themselves. We noticed  how reluctant people were to interact, so we started targeting specific sectors like products (price, detailed info etc…) and taxis. We were surprised how well people welcomed the initiative right from the demo step on the field”, says Patrick Ehode.

vairified

September 18 marks a turning point for Vairified. The work of the team to improve the quality of life of citizens of their country has been recognized by public authorities. The city of Douala, through the Urban Community, will officially launch the service Taxi Vairified under the patronage of the Governor of the region of Littoral, Mr Samuel Ivaha Dibouha and the Government Delegate to the Douala Urban Community, Fritz Ntone Ntone (on the picture). Vairified will thus become an official partner of the city.

I am proud of this team. Not only because the city recognized their work, but mainly because I see young people put their work at the service of citizens to improve their quality of life and succeed in the fight against insecurity, a scourge public forces were not able to curb. I am happy to see them thrive through social entrepreneurship. Unfortunately, I will not be around to see this major step of theirs, clap my hands off and scream at the top of my lungs. I invite you all to be at Boulevard Besseke Bonanjo next Sunday to support not only the team, but also our Government which, through this public launch, shows interest in the work of young entrepreneurs and encourage them to work for the welfare of their community.

Befoune


Here are some tweets of citizens from Cameroon who tried Vairified :

 

  • Show Comments (2)

  • leyopar

    He ben c’est vraiment une révolution et une réelle solution aux pb d’insécurité dans les transports en commun au Cameroun

    • Elle Citoyenne
      Befoune

      Raison pour laquelle j’ai immédiatement accroché.

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