Towards the empowered commuter: Exploring information behavior in informal public transport users in Uganda and South Africa

Project leader: Christo Venter
Centre for Transport Development, University of Pretoria, South Africa


  • Ina Fourie, Department of Information Science, University of Pretoria, Private Bag X20, Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa
  • Paul I. MUKWAYA Department of Geography, Geo‐informatics and Climatic Sciences Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda
  • Chantal Lailvaux, Head of Research, Whereismytransport. 186 Rigel Avenue, Waterkoof Ridge, Pretoria, South Africa


This project aims at exploring information behaviour, information practices and information needs amongst current users of informal public transport services in two major African cities, namely Tshwane (South Africa), and Kampala (Uganda). It responds to, on one hand, a rapidly evolving ICT industry that is investing in the collection, collating, value‐adding, and dissemination of transport information to users in many cities; and, on the other hand, a dearth of knowledge on the types and formats of transport information that users actually need, and how it affects their mobility behaviour. The ultimate goal is to contribute towards nurturing more empowered, well‐informed public transport users by supporting both governments and ICT providers to use information more effectively in the provision of sustainable transport in Sub‐Saharan Africa. We adopt a mixed‐methods approach to examine both quantitatively and qualitatively how information behaviour interfaces with mobility behaviour. The method includes the use of an innovative smart phone app to track mobility behaviour of minibus‐taxi and motorcycle taxi passengers across multiple days in Tshwane and Kampala. This is followed by qualitative individual interviews to explore information seeking strategies, types of information sought, frequency and qualities of information sought, and strategies for identifying and securing such information. The project is explicitly cross‐disciplinary, integrating across fields of transportation planning and information science (and more specifically the sub‐field of information behaviour) – fields that have not intersected much as yet. This is expected to deliver new perspectives of both a theoretical and practical nature. Outcomes will be shared with core players in the public transport and information space to help set the stage for future work on the co‐design of information products.