Uber, the U.S-headquartered uber taxi hailing service, has announced plans to expand into Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana before the year runs out.
As it preps to launch in these countries, Uber will focus on convincing traditional taxi drivers to work for them. This is because traditional taxi drivers see Uber as a threat to their livelihoods.
In Nairobi last month, an Uber driver was attacked and his car torched after the government rejected calls by Kenya’s taxi association to ban the company.
“Part of our strategy when we launch in new markets will be that engagement up front with taxi operators. We will be doing a better job of engaging,” Uber’s general manager for sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits said in a statement.
To act as launch pad for the expansion into these countries, East and West Africa “hubs” in Nairobi and Lagos will be set up.
Also, Uber would begin operating in a second city each in Nigeria and Kenya, Uber’s fastest-growing market in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We feel we are at a point now where we have a strong sense for what it takes to build a successful Uber business in Africa,” Lits said.
As a way of growing in Africa, Uber has been trialling cash payments in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya – credit credit card usage in Africa is still low. This trial led to massive growth in Nairobi.
Also, Uber recently partnered with Paga, a leading mobile payments company in Nigeria, to provide riders with a new payment option.
“It’s definitely going to be part of our strategy as we push across Africa,” Lits added.
In Kenya and Nigeria, the company is looking to make it cheaper for Uber drivers to rent vehicles, and in South Africa and Nigeria, the company has teamed up with a financing company to help drivers obtain car loans.
Uber launched in sub-Saharan Africa in 2013 and now operates in seven cities in South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.