Can the Sharing Economy Solve Cairo’s Public Transportation?

April 11, 2016

You have probably heard of the “Sharing Economy”.

It is best illustrated by Uber, a ride-sharing app that connects drivers with commuters, and Air B&B, a platform where home owners connect with travellers by renting out spare rooms. 

Last Thursday, Startup-grind invited Transport for Cairo to participate in a panel discussion on the shared economy during its event, ‘Sharing Economy : The future of startups in emerging markets’, held in the Greek Campus.

TfC Director, Mohamed Hegazy, speaking as a panelist in Start Up Cairo’s event at the Greek campus.

Perhaps the most relevant feature of the sharing economy are the three sides of value creation that start-ups can tap in to:

      1. Research and Discovery

      2. Logistics

      3. Trust

Research & discovery refers to matching the demand with the supply, or in Uber’s case, the passengers with drivers. Logistics refers to making the system work for all participants smoothly, for example handling payments. Brilliant brands are brilliant precisely because we trust them and they convey quality. Most sharing economy firms gather ratings and reviews to maintain a high level of quality and ensure trust.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the sharing economy is that it has always existed; one could describe the informal transportation sector in Cairo, or the microbus system, as a form of sharing economy. Essentially, microbuses are shared taxis in which a group of 14 passengers share space to reach a common destination.

Research & Discovery takes way the old fashion way: Go to the street and wait! Logistics are handled by the drivers: they organize the buses and drive them, and collect fares in cash on the spot. And trust, well, خليها على ربنا.

In fact, in the below TED talk, Uber CEO has already started marketing Uberpool in San Francisco, a shared-taxi service not too dissimilar from informal transportation in Cairo today. The arguments are strongly in favor: Less cars, less traffic congestion, less pollution.

The difference lies in technology: Uber provides superior Research & Discovery through its superior technology and application. It guarantees the quality of logistics and generates trust, and taps into the three sides of the value-creation equation mentioned. And so, If Uber can bring the microbus to San Francisco, can we bring technology to the Microbus?