Khwela Case Study


Khwela used AWS to develop and launch its new mobile taxi app, giving thousands of South African commuters a better experience, and growing the company 80 percent since launch. The mobile app offers taxi rank updates, route information, and pricing information, and it enables users to communicate with other travelers. Khwela took advantage of AWS Activate to gain the financial and technical support it needed to launch and scale the app.

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We would not have been able to create and deploy our app to thousands of commuters across South Africa without AWS Activate."

Skhona Khumalo
Director of Operations, Khwela

Making Transportation Seamless for South African Commuters

Millions of South Africans rely on taxis and other public transportation to get them to their jobs and homes every day. Khwela, a new mobile app, is designed to make those journeys easier. The Khwela app connects South Africans moving by foot to different locations and tracks public transport and taxi availability for them on their phones.

As it prepared to launch the app, the company knew it would need scalability to meet expected demand, as well as financial and technical assistance to deliver the solution. “We’re a startup and we were at the beginning of our efforts to find funding,” says Skhona Khumalo, director of operations for Khwela. “We weren’t able to launch the app at scale on our own.”

Taking Advantage of AWS Activate to Launch and Scale a Mobile App

Khwela chose to run its application on the AWS Cloud and it participated in the AWS Activate program, which gives startups the credits, training, and technical support they need to get started on AWS. With AWS Activate, Khwela was able to get the resources it required to launch and scale its app, which runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances. 

“We would not have been able to create and deploy our app to thousands of commuters across South Africa without AWS Activate,” says Khumalo. “We were originally on a free AWS tier, which gave us limited compute capabilities, but the credits we received through AWS Activate helped us scale much faster.”

Enabling 80 Percent Growth in two Months

“With the support we received through AWS Activate, we were able to launch the app and achieve 80 percent customer growth in two months,” says Khumalo. More than 3,000 people have since downloaded the app. 

“We are seeing hundreds of new app users, and we continue to increase our reach throughout the country because of the scalability of AWS,” he says. Khwela is currently collaborating with ShopRite, a large retailer, to give South Africans the opportunity to win ShopRite shopping vouchers from using the Khwela app. In addition, the overall reliability of AWS ensures that people can use the Khwela app 24/7. “We see many traffic spikes up and down and our service has remained stable every time.”

Giving Commuters a Better Experience

By relying on AWS, Khwela can focus on delivering features that enhance the customer experience, such as an in-app chat forum where users can relay real-time information about route changes, fare prices, or traffic delays. The app provides route options and the location of the nearest available taxi ranks, as well as the cost of the trip.

Using AWS to power its business, Khwela anticipates significant growth for its mobile app. “We are in major cities in South Africa right now, but we plan to expand the app throughout Africa,” says Khumalo. “By running our application environment on AWS, we are delivering a solution that is helping commuters in Africa move into the digital world.”

About Khwela

Khwela is a South African transportation mobile app used by thousands of commuters across the country. The app provides taxi rank updates, route information, and pricing information. It enables users to share their concerns, questions, and experiences with their fellow commuters.

Benefits of AWS

  • Launches and scales mobile app by taking
    advantage of AWS Activate financial
    assistance and technical support
  • Enables 80 percent growth in the first 2 months
  • Gives South African commuters a more
    seamless travel experience
  • Helps developers focus on creating new

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. 

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AWS Activate

AWS Activate is a free program specifically designed for startups and early stage entrepreneurs that offers the resources needed to get started on AWS.

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