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Tackling vehicular fraud in Ethiopia: from technology to business

Azarias Reda, Brian Noble

Several forms of vehicular fraud cause significant losses to the transportation and freight industry in Ethiopia. For a land-locked country that mostly relies on ground shipping and public transportation for connectivity, vehicular fraud is an important problem in the Ethiopian context. In order to start tackling this problem, this paper presents the design and implementation of a commercial grade GPS tracking system for nationwide deployment in Ethiopia, and the process of building a business around the technology. The paper makes three contributions. First, we present vehicular fraud, an important problem in developing regions, with a case study from Ethiopia. Second, we discuss the process of building an ICT system in developing regions for a practical and wide-scale deployment beyond experimental pilots. Compared to conducting research projects, this process often involves stringent requirements and considerations such as scalability, sustainability and security. Finally, we discuss the challenges and opportunities of building technology based businesses in Africa. We discuss entrepreneurship as a model for delivering ICT services in developing regions, and present some of the hurdles we faced and lessons learned in building a tech business in Ethiopia. We have deployed the system on the ground, and currently support an initial set of clients who are trying the system.