Tech firms, Interswitch and Becoz have signed a deal worth more than $73 million to provide a card technology initiative that would allow people to travel with public transport without having to use cash or paper tickets.
A statement from Nigeria Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC), revealed that, the actual value of the transaction is £56 million (USD 73,129,560).
During the signing of the agreement of between the two firms in Abuja, the UK Foreign Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that the deal would lead to the establishment of a research hub in Lagos, to be launched soon. The initiative is an effort to bring entrepreneurs and innovators together in a long-term scheme that will benefit Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
Hunt said the transport payment technology is in semblance to the Oyster Card of transport in London, adding that the initiative is a sign that the European country’s technologies can drive the growth of some highly innovative companies in Nigeria.
“The British Government wants to reset the relationship with Africa to move away from the primary motive of our engagement being an aid to one where we engage more with industries of the future, I want people in african countries to know that the UK is closely identified with the extraordinary transformation that is happening in Africa at the moment. Africa is a continent, which would represent a quarter of the world’s population before too long, and we want to be part of the great African success story that is happening.”
The Divisional Chief Executive Officer, Interswitch, Akeem Lawal, said “we have taken all of those technology pieces, and put them on the infrastructure Interswitch built over the last 17 years. We combine the payment technology with those unique technologies that we have done in partnership with a UK company, and we create a solution that will work on Danfo buses, blue buses, in ferries and in trains,”
“It will be all across the country; we will start our proof of concept with some of our selected partners in Lagos and Abuja, and we will extend to the rest of the country when we are done,” he said.
Lawal said the project was a long-term ‘strategic project’ which had sorted out major challenges that would hamper its functionality, adding that it has wanted to design a system that does not depend on power from the beginning, so the system we have built works 100 percent on solar, he said.