African bus drivers: driving Africa’s workforce


photo credit:

Every blissful morning, across Africa, many people head to the bus-top on their way to work, and the shouts of bus conductors calling out their routes and beckoning on them to enter their bus is a classic African feature.

Bus conductors display various antics, often very funny, in a bid to attract passengers to their bus.

In Africa, the relationship between drivers and conductors is a mutually beneficial one.

For a day’s earning, usually as high as 40 %, conductors assist their drivers in calling out commuters, helping passengers board and alight from the vehicle, as well as collecting transport fares.


a bus conductor beckoning on passengers, photo credit:

In Nigeria and many Sub-Saharan African countries where transport infrastructures are gradually being rehabilitated after many years of decay, especially the rail, road,  and sea channels – private bus business has been the main stay of the transport sector.

Recent decline in Nigeria’s economy, Africa’s most populous country, brought about by the sharp fall in crude oil prices, have created a movement for self-dependence and entrepreneurial ventures.

In a bid to resuscitate the economy, Nigerian government has been promoting the ‘consume what you produce mantra,’ urging citizens to locally produce what hitherto was being imported. And it seems that many Nigerians are heeding the call as a lot of small scale industries are on the rise.

Young entrepreneurs are challenging current trends producing goods, services and creating job opportunities. And after a long time, Nigeria seems to be getting it right, by slowly but surely diversifying the economy.

But African bus drivers, the wheels on which changes are driven, represents a classic example of home-grown solutions to Africa’s unique transport problems. Danfo drivers, as bus drivers are commonly called in the city of Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, may account for a significant portion of 3% annual GDP from transport in Africa’s largest economy.

Interestingly, local bus drivers do not receive the recognition they deserve. But they present us with underlying creative and local means to tackling many challenges in the developing world.

African buses may appear old with uneasy appearance, but they have bought the continent time and represent at best a last ditch effort to preserve the flock until the shepherd arrives. And for this we are grateful.

In the near absence of modern transport networks,  local bus drivers have been commuting humans together with goods and services across the continent for decades, driving the workforce of Africa into productivity.

Rebuilding Africa is a gradual but collective mission.  Everyone has a part to play. There abound simple innovations that can help redress the nagging transport gaps.


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