Ujuizi Laboratories in collaboration with Border less Alliance has launched a smart device technology application to address challenges in transporting goods across the West Africa sub region.
The platform christened: “Chains of Human Intelligence towards Efficiency and Equity in Agro Food Trade along the Trans-Africa Highway,” (CHEETAH), is being piloted to tackle trade obstacles along the trade corridors within the sub-region.
The pilot project seeks to involve more than 100 stakeholders, including truck drivers from various transport associations in the West African Sub-region, as well as some graduate students of Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).
The objective of the pilot phase is to assess whether CHEETAH can inform effective post-harvest management decisions and policies by crowdsourcing post-harvest intelligence through human interactions and infrastructural status.
The technology gathers improved information on road pavement quality and post-harvest losses to help drive behavourial policy and infrastructure improvement.
The platform also provides on the ground intelligence to decrease unforeseen expenditure for traders and ensure transparent and accountability in the system.
The CHEETAH mobile application covers a wide range of fields including the interaction with law enforcement officials, location of drivers and their load and their navigation patterns.
The project is supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, supported by Essoko Ghana, the KNUST Department of Horticulture and the International Fertilizer Development Centre.
He explained that the platform consisted of two components food intelligence, which models post-harvest decay in vegetables and fruits during transport and displayed the information to users of the application to increase awareness of post-harvest losses.
The second model: CHEETAH Infra, which collects road conditions data and shares it in real time with fellow road users.
Mr Valentijn Venus, the Executive Director of Ujuizi Laboratories Netherlands, said the transportation of goods, especially food products in West Africa, was plagued with challenges such as poor road infrastructure, lack of processing and packaging technologies and unrefrigerated transport and storage.
He noted that in West Africa, post-harvest losses were aggravated by illegal toll stops and police controls and these prolonged transport journeys ad put profit margins under further pressures.
Ghana is said to have an annual infrastructure deficit of two billion dollars.
The trans Africa highway project, estimated to cost four to five billion dollars to construct and an additional annual maintenance cost of 33 million dollars, is yet to materialise.
He said the proliferation of telecommunication services and smartphones in Africa had created a viable platform for developing solutions that stimulated the participation of members of the public through crowdsourcing – the practice of gathering needed information by soliciting contributions from large group of people.
“The underlying premise of CHEETAH is that by crowdsourcing, post-harvest intelligence and distributing the information among value chain players would allow them to run faster,” he added.
He explained that by combining new information from vehicle and human centric sensing systems one could trace losses and reveal the sources of these losses.
Dr Kofi Mbiah, the Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Shippers Authority, said their outfit was ready to collaborate with the project to ensure its success.
He said the country’s trade between the sub-region was slow, adding that the bottlenecks of post-harvest losses over the years were still persisting, and urged the Government to be proactive and adopt technology-based to address issues in trade facilitation.