Pilot to facilitate transportation of goods launched

By Kodjo
Adams, GNA

Accra, Aug. 29, GNA – 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 developers of CHEETAH are testing the
innovation on an important trade corridor, Accra – Ghana to Ouagadougou-Burkina
Faso.

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.

GNA

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