As Cameroon braces up to pick up steam for the digital economy race and in a bid to become the technology leader in Africa, the government prides itself on having like minds in their drive towards digital transformation. The recently developed electronic toll collection system known as Automatic Tollgate System could become the game changer.
Back in May 2016, the Cameroon government through the Minister of Public Works Mr. Emmanuel Nganou Djoumessi launched a public order calling for the construction of electronic tollgates to replace some 14 inefficient manual tollgates already existing.
It is against this backdrop that Cameroonian Software Engineer and CEO of Premium Enterprise Software Configuration of Manual Systems (PEFSCOM Sys.), Franklin Ekombe has developed an electronic toll gate system termed Automatic Tollgate System (ATS) to help the government in its vision for a fully transformed digital economy.
The automatic tollgate system according to PEFSCOM’s Managing Director, Oben Simon Besong, will permit the State Treasury to automatically receive toll gate payments directly without passing through unscrupulous hands, reduce traffic congestion on roads where the ATS is installed, easily track down unauthorized vehicle users, aid in the arrest of drivers of stolen vehicles as well as a whole lot.
The system also makes use of four basic components: the vehicle’s registration number, the vehicle’s plate number, Carte Grisse and an inbuilt map of Cameroon that will be used to determine the exact location of the vehicle crossing the toll gate.
The Automatic Tollgate System at its idealistic phase a great innovation, but in reality, as concerns Cameroon, it may just be a far-fetched issue. Three reasons why this system could fail to be integrated in Cameroon:
- “Where are the roads?” For such a robust system to be built, the foundation on which it stands ought to be solid as well. This is not the case in Cameroon: the lack of good accessible roads in some of these locations continue to act as stumbling blocks as well as the presence of single carriage roads which are not suitable for such a system.
- Cameroon relies almost entirely on external aid and has over the years accumulated huge loans which they are unable to pay back. With this type of situation, where does the government intend to get the necessary funds to put up such a system?
- Corruption is rife. One of the reasons why this system was built is to fight corruption at the tollgates. Most part of the money collected as tollgate fees never ever reaches the state treasury.
The government could finally secure the funds needed for the project. One way or the other, it could still find its way down the pockets of some rogue officials.
If implemented by the Cameroon government, the Automatic Tollgate System will no doubt deliver a solid blow to tollgate corruption by ridding itself of the need for tollgate officers to interact directly with drivers. One of the most important benefits this innovation will offer is the ability for the government to control and monitor which of its road networks attract high traffic.
The system which is expected to make use of a Virtual Private Server (VPS) – eliminating the need for an internet connection to track a vehicle’s movement will as well utilize a pre-paid mobile money or scratch card payment mechanism on a smartphone.
Considering the high level of interest the government has shown in this new system, it is certain the adoption and subsequent implementation of the Automatic Tollgate System is just a stone throw ahead. The following technologies if integrated into the mainstream of government solutions could help Cameroon fully digitalize its analog economy:
If the government of Cameroon is honest about embracing the digital economy then the following technologies are worth considering for effective integration into the mainstream of government solutions which could help Cameroon fully digitalize its analog economy:
National Employment Fund integrating Njorku.com as its main job opportunity delivery platform for job seekers.
Skademy ICT lessons introduced in all educational institutions so as to speed up the digital economy process.
Cameroonians using mobile money to subscribe and pay for health and social insurance schemes and other services.
Making the CardioPad available in local hospitals nationwide.
The Rwandan government has integrated drone drug delivery into its healthcare program to facilitate the timely delivery of drugs to those in need by partnering with a Silicon Valley drone delivery company, Zipline. Meanwhile, Nigeria has since 2013 replaced its manual tollgates with automated tollgate systems in most of its major cities like Abuja, Lagos, and Lekki.
Integrating and replacing manual tollgates with electronic toll gate systems like ATS as other African countries have done, could just be the beginning of Cameroon’s digital transformation process. But until other technologies are likewise integrated by the government, the road to a digital economy remains at an indefinite distance.
Afrohustler on its part applauds this initiative brought forward by Ekombe Franklin and wishes him luck in his journey to be a partner in Cameroon’s digital transformation process.