Lockdown level 5 gave this grade 11 learner an opportunity to develop his own app

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At the tender age of 17, Sphephelo has developed an app suited to the needs of many taxi passengers around the country.
At the tender age of 17, Sphephelo has developed an app suited to the needs of many taxi passengers around the country.
Sphephelo Mabena/Supplied
    • Grade 11 learner Sphephelo has created an app to make taxi maths easier. 
    • He created the app during level 5 lockdown after hearing people fight over change in a taxi
    • The app is available on Android devices only for now.

    Taxi maths. It can be the most daunting part of a passenger’s day and has been known to lead to feelings of anxiety and fights over change. 

    Sitting on the front seat of the taxi often means you collect the fare and make sure everyone gets the right change before giving the driver his due. 

    So, when lockdown started and schools were closed, Sphephelo Mabena saw it as an opportunity to create something that would benefit South Africa – an app that counts the fare for you. 

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    Sphephelo tells us level 5 lockdown was a blessing in disguise for him. “I taught myself a lot of things. I also developed the 4local App during level 5. I made the most out of the lockdown. We have returned to school now, so life is almost back to normal,” he says.

    The St Francis College learner got the idea when he was in a taxi on the way to school just before lockdown. 

    “A verbal fight broke out among passengers and it was all because of change. In order to solve this problem, I thought about developing an app.

    “The first step in developing an Android App, is learning computer programming. I taught myself programming primarily using YouTube. I then used this skill to develop the 4local App. In order to publish my app on the Google Play Store, I had to pay 25$ (R416) to Google,” he says. 

    sphe
    At the tender age of 17, Sphephelo has developed an app suited to the needs of many taxi passengers around the country.
    sphe
    Sphephelo developed the app during Lockdown level 5.
    sphe
    The app is available on Android devices only for now

    Sphephelo’s app is currently only available on Android smartphones, but he is working on an IOS version which he hopes to make available soon. 

    The app does more than just count the fare, he says proudly. 

    “The 4local App is a taxi maths solution for minibus commuters. The app calculates taxi change and gives an analysis of the transactions. It will let you know there is a passenger that did not pay, and it also keeps record of previous taxi maths transactions. 

    “It keeps the ‘Amount per Passenger’ value in order to simplify the everyday process. For example if you always travel from Daveyton to Benoni and the unit taxi price is R17, the app will keep record of that R17 so that you can only fill in the ‘Amount Sent Forward’ input and also the ‘Number of Passengers Included’ input.”

    The 4local App is also available in isiZulu and Sesotho, and can be downloaded on the Google Play Store

    “The app is 100% offline therefore, no data is needed for it to operate,” the 17-year-old says. 

    It is currently in its introductory phase meaning that he won’t get any money for it just yet. “It’s all about attaining users,” he says. 

    People are loving it, he says. “The reception has been amazing. I have received a lot of positive reviews on Google Play. There are also a lot of people who have posted about my app on social media. They just love that it increases their confidence when they sit on the front seat of a taxi.” 

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