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Africa

Mobile application for cheap gas in Uganda

Almost every week, African software developers introduce new applications to the market. Two IT students in Uganda have developed an application that shows motorists the cheapest gas stations in the capital, Kampala.

Edward Sekyewa is driving through Kampala. His  tank's almost empty and he urgently needs to find a gas station.  But fuel is expensive in Uganda and prices vary widely. To find the cheapest price, Edward uses his cellphone.

With his smart phone and the 'Mafuta-Go' (Gas-Go) application, he is able to find out where he'll get the most fuel for his money. According to Mafuta-Go it's the  City Oil gas station in Kamwokya where a liter costs 3,550 Ugandan shillings (1.10 euros, $1.40).                                                                 

Edward is a member of Uganda's growing middle class.

Driver Edward Sekyewa in his car

Drivers like Edward Sekeywa make frequent use of Mafuta-Go

He drives a Volkswagen, works for an NGO, has one child and owns his own house.  But although he earns well, he still has to watch how he spends his money.

Transport costs push  up gas prices

Gasoline is expensive in Uganda. Every liter must first be transported by cargo ship to the Kenyan port of Mombasa and then by truck to Kampala.

The transport costs push up the price considerably and every shilling counts when drivers fill up. That's what prompted the inventors of the new app, Christine Ampaire and Daniel Odongo, to see how they could help. 

The young IT students launched a start-up business called Code-Sync a year ago. They developed the Mafuta-Go app which is a free service which they finance with the prize money they won in at this year's Pivot East competition for mobile apps.

The Pivot East network, based in the Kenyan capital Nairobi, promotes start-ups and developers of mobile software in the whole of East Africa.

Looking for partners

Currently, Daniel and Christine are seeking to develop partnerships with gas stations so Mafuta-Go can be automatically updated from their databases.

Christine Ampaire and Daniel Odongo the founders of Mafuta-GO

The founders of Mafuta-Go, Christine Ampaire and Daniel Odongo

Until then, they will continue to send out motorcyclists with price lists to check all gas stations in Kampala and note the correct prices.

"The economy is up and down and people are looking for different ways in which they can save money, and businesses are looking for different ways in which they can bring in more customers. So we look at Mafuta-Go as an avenue for that," says 21-year old Ampaire.                                                                                                           

The app is particularly useful when there are delivery delays. It sometimes happens that gas transporters get stuck in Kenya or on the border, resulting in a shortage in Uganda. But now, instead of wasting gas by driving around looking for a station that still has a few liters, all drivers have to do is check out Mafuta-Go.

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