Uber to expand online taxi services in EA region amid opposition

Uber Technologies Inc plans to roll out its operations in the whole of East Africa region by the end of 2016.

The company says it has recorded significant business profit in Nairobi and now targets other cities in Kenya and the entire East Africa region.

However, the company could not disclose the profitability base after entering the Kenyan taxi market early last year and bringing its global metered pricing.

Uber operates in over 400 cities across the world and continues to encounter opposition in some markets.

It has ten cities in Africa (Cape Town, Durban, Joburg, Pretoria, Port Elizabeth, and Nairobi, Lagos and Cairo, Alexandria, Casablanca in North Africa)

 Uber’s Sub-Saharan General manager Alon Lits based in Cape Town spoke on phone to AfricanQuarters on its game plan in Africa.

‘’ Business in Kenya is huge and promising and we are definitely making Nairobi a hub of our business growth in the East Africa as we spread our services to other cities. In less than five minutes, we record business. This is a fastest growing market in Sub Saharan Africa.’’ Said Lits

Since entry in East Africa, Uber has witnessed opposition from regular taxi operators over their pricing model.

Customers are charged for every kilometre covered — unlike the regular Nairobi cabs whose pricing is based on arbitrary negotiations with drivers.

Every Uber trip is automatically and openly priced, helping users to budget for their travel expenses. Kenyan taxi operators have strongly opposed Uber’s pricing model, which in some cases cuts by more than half the prices they have been charging commuters especially on short trips.

Mr. Lits told African quarters that Uber is evolving the way the world moves, seamlessly connecting riders to drivers through smartphone technology.

Uber’s mission is nothing less than a revolution in the way citizens of the world move, work and live. It aspires to transform the way people connect with their communities and to bring reliability, convenience and opportunity to transport systems.

‘’ Our technology is open and pro-choice and we are keen to offer it to a broad number of taxi drivers to boost their occupancy rates and chances for profit. In fact many taxi drivers are already using our technology to boost their incomes and we would welcome more who wish to join their colleagues.

Uber has been engaging with taxi associations since last year to find a way that we can partner with them. We do not feel that it should be about Uber or Taxi but rather Uber AND Taxi.’’ Mr. Lits explained.

Mr. Lits was positive on the meeting they had two weeks ago to resovle challenges posed by regular taxi drivers who have since said Uber is taking away their businesses.

During the meeting a stakeholders’ committee headed by the director general of the Competition Authority of Kenya Wang’ombe Kariuki was formed to look into the regular cabs’ grievances.

The committee will compile a report on matters raised in two weeks, which will be used to draft regulations governing online taxi operations in Kenya.


– Wamoyi .M.M., AfricanQuarters

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