Mr. Patrick Nsenga Buchana is a youthful Rwandan who works toward improving the commuters experience on Rwanda’s public transport system. As such his company, AC Group Ltd has played an efficient role in Kigali’s transition to a cashless payment transport system using the popular Tap&Go smart cards. With over a million users (960,000 and 100,00) in Rwanda and in Cameroon respectively, they are changing the way services are delivered to the public.
The Service Mag (TSM), brings you excerpts of the story that drives Mr. Buchana to lead in the the effective implementation of the Smart Transport system in Kigali and beyond its borders.
TSM: How do you influence change within your community?
PATRICK: As the CEO of AC Group Ltd, everyday that we wakeup, every innovation we think of brining into the market, is to make the commuters experience better as it comes to life. We look forward to a time when people opt to ride buses over motorcycles and other private means of transport when going to work and school.
I also sit on the Board of Directors of kLab that is an open space for Tech entrepreneurs and I share my experience but we also work with the management to better convert the ideas into great businesses. With this in mind, that is also my same role with my board seat at the board of ICT Chambers – PSF.
I am also involved with a number of institutions whose values are in line with mine like I serve on the advisory board of Agahozo Shalom Youth Village among other institutions.
TSM: Why should we change the Rwandan/ African narrative?
PATRICK: We need to change the African narrative because there has been a lot that has changed in the last couple of years and we need to learn from it, especially for us Rwandans. RPA decided it was time to take matters in their own hands and save their people, save their country and build a better tomorrow. It was a hard decision because many left their families behind, they were ready to die for a cause that they very well knew would benefit a lot of Rwandans in the years to come. This should be a lesson for us all, the solutions we need for our countries are with us, with our will to start something that will not only benefit us but the Rwanda and Africa of tomorrow. Africa has a lot of potential, we have been hearing this for the last 2 decades but potential only makes sense when it is realised and Africa needs to start realising this potential and change our narrative.
TSM: How is smart transport something that can change the way people view Rwanda/Africa?
PATRICK: By 2050, a big portion of the most populous cities are going to be in Africa and that means the traffic will always be unbearable. Already, this is a major challenge in some cities. If it took us 30 minutes to get to work today, it will increase to 90 minutes, if not 2 hours, and that means a reduction in our productive hours which on a large scale can affect the economy of the country. To cope with these changes, we need to reduce the number of cars on the road with an efficient transport system and that is how AC Group comes in. Less cars, better and comfortable transport buses for business people, students and civil servants like it is in London, New York and will be in Kigali soon.
TSM: What has challenged this shift?
PATRICK: The ever increasing Rural – Urban Migration, the growth of business and connection between people.
TSM: Has AC Groups vision been embraced by the people, in and outside Rwanda?
PATRICK: Yes, we had challenges at the start but government was very supportive and fully understood what value we were bringing on board. As time went on, they supported us in changing the mindset of commuters in Rwanda. Today, they have not only embraced it but also frequently given us feedback and ideas on what else to improve. In Cameroon, they have also embraced the Tap&Go system and are excited to use this means of payment.
TSM: Tell us more about Tap&Go and where its headed.
PATRICK: Tap&Go has over 960,000 users in Kigali, 100,000 users in Cameroon and almost 90% of the routes in Kigali are fully cashless. We are now looking at a fully intergrated Intelligent Transport system that enables commuters to trust the bus schedule, get to work and school on time.
We are also currently advising other governments on the continent on what smart city frameworks, regulation and partnerships to put in place for different smart city initiatives to sprout like Tap&Go.
TSM: How has AC Group impacted other markets?
PATRICK: Today, the losses in the public transport buses are significantly minimized in all the buses, the government has personalized datasets to help them make decisions in favour of the commuters’ experience while also considering the private investors. They are also able to plan for their city’s future with this data.
TSM: What’s your take on the Customer Service delivery in the transport sector?
PATRICK: I do believe there is a lot to be done in realizing the full experience of an efficient transport network but it’s very important to also note that the government and the different stakeholders are doing a lot to deliver the best service for commuters and other transport means like air transport, RwandAir is doing an incredible job.
TSM: What has motivated you to this point in your career journey and why?
PATRICK: The need to contribute to my countries development which later pushed me to know my continent more and the need to realize our full potential is the reason I keep pushing a lot of the visions we have.
TSM: What is your message for the Rwandan youth?
PATRICK: Allow me to quote Aristotle – “Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” We must learn to have patience; it takes time to build a great business or career. It takes a lot of courage, commitment, discipline and the never-give-up spirit and without these, it’s impossible to keep going when things are not moving the way we expected.
What do you enjoy doing/ hobbies/ past-time activities? “Football. This is my favorite activity every Saturday morning. I also like reading, great conversations and laughter over coffee or dinner also make my day.”
When are you happiest? “When something I have spent time doing actually gets done excellently, when something good happens to a friend or colleague of mine.”
What kind of music do you love listing to? “Gospel music. Hill song is just awesome.”
What books are top on your reading list? “Blue Ocean Strategy, Art of War, Good to Great.”
What’s you favourite drink and dish? “Chicken with anything.”
What’s your favourite gadget? “My blackberry phone and laptop.”
What is your ultimate dream car? “G – Wagon”
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done? “Starting a company with no management experience and taking on a huge project which turned out to be the most exciting life experience.”
Finally, are you single, dating, married? “Dating an awesome and very supportive lady.”