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02 Sep 2015 09:51
Challenges facing Uber in Lagos, the first sub-Saharan African city to have the service outside South Africa, include congested traffic and poor mapping quality. (Sergio Perez, Reuters)
Uber Technologies is negotiating cheaper deals for new vehicles with Kia Motors to boost its number of drivers fivefold in the Nigerian city of
Lagos, Africa’s biggest, to 3 000 by the end of next year.
The US car-booking company has signed agreements with the South
Korean carmaker and Lagos-based Access Bank to reduce the down payment required for new vehicles to 95 000 naira ($477) from almost
200 000 naira, with the balance payable over four years, Alon Lits,
Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, said in an interview in Lagos on August 28.
launched in Lagos just over a year ago, more than 600 job opportunities
have been created using the application,” Lits said. “That’s really just
We feel that the number can be well over 3 000 by the
end of 2016.”
connects drivers with passengers via its smartphone application in more
than 300 cities, is seeking partnerships that will reduce costs for new
drivers as the San Francisco-based company expands in Africa,
Challenges facing Uber in Lagos, the first sub-Saharan African city to have the service outside South Africa,
include congested traffic and poor mapping quality, according to Lits.
Another is that a relatively small proportion of Nigerians know how to
operate a smartphone well enough to manage the trips, Ebi Atawodi,
general manager for Uber Lagos, said in the same interview.
smartphone module is usually what trumps people,” Atawodi said. While
Nigeria had 148.5-million active cellphone subscriptions as of July,
according to the Nigerian Communications Communication, fewer than 10% are for smartphones. Nigeria is
Africa’s most populous country with more than 170-million people, of
which about 21-million live in Lagos.
the issue of mapping, Uber is working with other technology companies on
ways to direct drivers without access to conventional directions, Lits
said. In the Kenyan capital of Nairobi, Uber is carrying out tests with a
local company that is developing ways to send pictures of locations,
rather than just addresses.
more developed markets, you often don’t have an address where the driver
will be able to get turn-by-turn directions,” Lits said.
Uber’s growth in Lagos can match the speed of take-up in South Africa,
according to Lits. The company’s drivers in Africa’s most
industrialised economy have taken passengers on more than two million
journeys this year, compared with about one million in 2014, the company
said in July.
Besides Johannesburg, the company also operates in Durban and Cape Town. Lits sees the number of South African drivers growing to about 15 000 by the beginning of 2017 from 2,000 now.
three times the size of greater Johannesburg,” he said, referring to its
population. “It’s a huge opportunity here.”
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