Dgwb blog white borderOne of the largest projects that Consult Hyperion has been working on in the past year is the innovative TAP electronic voucher scheme in Nigeria. This has half a million users already and we thought you’d like some details on this amazing system for human-powered contactless mesh networking.

The Token Administration Platform, or TAP, is an e-voucher scheme that uses the latest tablet and smartcard technology to change the way the Nigerian government collects data and delivers benefits to its citizens. Its use of near field communication (NFC) technology is revolutionising agricultural development in rural Nigeria.

The International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC) has signed up 470,000 farmers for GES Touch and Pay (TAP), an NFC-based service now live in the FCT and Sokoto states of Nigeria. The organisation hopes to have 500,000 farmers signed up in the coming weeks.

[From Nigerian farmers use NFC to access seed and fertilizer subsidies • NFC World+]

The farmers are registered in support of the Nigerian Growth Enhancement Support (GES) scheme, where farmers and agricultural dealers have access to agricultural subsidies to drive production, output, and ultimately, the growth of the agriculture sector. Faced with inconsistent mobile coverage and the inefficiencies of paper-based systems, the Nigerian Government and a consortium of organisations, with funding from the UK’s Department for International Development, are using TAP to transform the way agricultural subsidies in Nigeria are managed.

Ugomma Anyigor_Help Line Staff Member in Lugbe, FCT, Nigeria_Larry Tweed_TAPnigeria

Ugomma Anyigor is one of the lead Farmer Enumerators in Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory, Nigeria. As a member of the Help Line Staff, Ugomma is a guardian of the Token Administration Platform (TAP).

TAP is being used not only to register farmers for the GES but also to accurately record and transfer biometric and credit data, and deliver vouchers to eligible farmers and agricultural dealers. TAP takes the discounts to the farmers by effectively extending mobile network coverage into an offline environment, beyond the current reach of mobile networks. And as is demanded of the most effective development initiatives, TAP vastly reduces the risk of fraud and ensures that fertiliser subsidies reach the farmers for whom they are intended.

Audu Ibrahim_male farmer in Kuje, FCT, Nigeria_Paul Ishaku_TAPnigeria

“The enumerators took my photograph, collected my farm details and gave me a TAP card in less than three minutes, helping me save time and start my work!” Audu Ibrahim (Farmer)

Getting data back to the GES database using network coverage is slow, inefficient, and in some cases impossible. TAP’s breakthrough architecture uses NFC and people-powered mesh networking to transfer data to field staff devices. Field staff can then send data to the GES database when they are back in network range and receive information to pass to offline agro-dealers about newly registered farmers.

Fatima Mohammed_female farmer in Gwagwalada, FCT, Nigeria_Bolaji Olatunde_TAPnigeria

“Through the GES and TAP, it is easy for me to purchase fertiliser and seeds.” Fatima Mohammed (Farmer)

Using a more secure, efficient and reliable process, TAP is directly supporting Nigerian farmers and boosting the local economy.

“TAP allows our farmers to redeem their inputs in areas where there are no networks, simply by using Android phones as smart cards…just tap it on the phone and all the allocation shows up and the farmers redeem their seeds and fertilizer without any network. It’s revolutionary. We are the first in the world to do it.” Akin Adesina, Minister of Agriculture for the Republic of Nigeria

NFC is also used in farmer identification. Farmers are issued with a TAP contactless card, which is linked to the farmer’s record via the tablet’s NFC interface. The record includes a photograph of the farmer, which is subsequently presented to agro-dealers for verification at the time of voucher redemption.

“We are overcoming obstacles of geography, identity and fraud to quickly and effectively provide farmers in Nigeria the fertiliser subsidies they are entitled to and need, when they need them.” Paul Makin (Head of Mobile Money Practice, Consult Hyperion)

Although TAP is currently only active in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory and Sokoto State, the initiative is already changing the agricultural landscape. In the first four months, TAP has now registered over 500,000 farmers; a near fivefold increase on the previous two years combined! In 2014, there will be more active users of contactless smartcards in Nigeria than the UK! The scheme will eventually involve more than 500,000 farmers and 100 agricultural dealers.

Alhaji Idris Musa_agro-dealer rep in Karshi, FCT, Nigeria_Bolaji Olatunde_TAPnigeria

“TAP recognises duplicate registration and suspends farmers who have registered twice in an attempt to redeem double inputs. This is a huge benefit for agro-dealers like me.” (Alhaji Idris Musa, Agro-Dealer)

The TAP technology was developed by Consult Hyperion in partnership with international development specialists GRM International and the agricultural non-profit International Fertilizer Development Center (IFDC).

A few key points about the technology:

  • Farmer registration details are captured electronically, including photos of the farmer and ID document thus reducing time, cost and errors.
  • Farmers are issued with a TAP card, configured using the NFC tablet.
  • Agro-dealers and registration officers transact electronically both in mobile coverage areas and offline.
  • Accurate data is returned to GES database within a week which allows faster settlement and loan repayments. This empowers private sector agro-dealers and gives lenders greater confidence in the scheme.
  • Automatic reports are generated detailing registrations and full transaction history (who, when, where, how much).
  • Fraud prevention and detection measures are integrated into the system and management processes.
  • Flexible back-office processes allow voucher schemes to be designed to meet the needs of the recipients, and not according to the limitations of technology.

TAP has been designed as a general-purpose, flexible, voucher registration, delivery and redemption platform. The team has already envisaged a range of potential applications for the platform, including: mHealth (where vouchers can be issued for vaccinations and other medication) and Education (where vouchers can be issued for training and other purposes, and redemption monitored in order to verify attendance). TAP’s unique capability to link a sequence of vouchers across an extended time period can transform the way services are provided.

TAP allows development initiatives to be designed to meet the needs of the citizen, and not according to the limitations of technology. Follow #TAPnigeria and visit TAPnigeria on Flickr for more about this revolutionary innovation from the people whose lives are being changed.

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