TaxiJet Wants To Be The Uber Of Francophone Africa

Written by Dana Sanchez

Uber, the famous and controversial taxi-hailing app, has reached South Africa, Nigeria, and Kenya but not Francophone Africa, and three Ivorian entrepreneurs have come up with their own version — TaxiJet, BBC reports.

After rolling out the first app of its kind in Abidjan, they have ambitions to take TaxiJet to other French-speaking African capitals.

Issa Sidibé and Pete Angel, co-founders of TaxiJet, studied at the international business school HEC Paris. They launched the mobile app in June and are getting 150 orders a day, according to France24.

Drivers use their own vehicles in a sort of cross between the Uber app and a more traditional central reservation system. The founders describe the operating system as a “virtual station”.

A city of nearly 2 million, Abidjan has 12,000 taxis to 300,000 users daily, according to France24.

Being from Abidjan, the founders say they knew there was a gap in transportation that they could fill.

They cited lack of transparency in prices, insecurity (both for passengers and drivers), and fleet age as some of the problems in Abidjan taxi rides, which sometimes “border on an obstacle course.”

Sandra Tanor told BBC she uses TaxiJet because of the security, air conditioning inside the taxis and the fact that she doesn’t have to go looking for a taxi. TaxiJet can find her on GPS.

TaxiJet is a bit like Uber but it works with local taxi drivers, not against them, Sidibe told BBC. Traditional taxis pick up their own customers but they get TaxiJet fares too.

“It is a very different business model,” Sidibe said. “You are asking (traditional taxi drivers) to increase revenue. You are asking them to decrease the time they are empty. We are not controversial.”

TaxiJet’s goal is to reach 10 percent of market share.

Each new driver for TaxiJet gets a smartphone with an app installed. TaxiJet gets a 10 percent commission on each fare and the drivers get to keep the rest.

The 30-something entrepreneurs plan to have their own fleet, according to France24. In recent years, the government has encouraged the creation of startups with stimulus tax provisions and simplified administrative and regulatory procedures.

Lack of funding is their biggest problem. “When you talk about startups, banks and investment funds refuse to release the money. They tell you to come back when you can justify three years of experience as a business leader,” they told France24. “We have friends who have good ideas but are forced to give up for lack of resources.

“It’s unfortunate because there is creativity in Ivory Coast. This country is sorely lacking investors.”