How Uber Is Tackling Emerging Challenges In Africa

How Uber Is Tackling Emerging Challenges In Africa

San Francisco-based Uber Technologies Inc, a company that allows users to summon a ride using their smartphones, is facing a number of challenges in its foray into sub-Saharan Africa, one of the least developed regions in the world.

The online taxi hailing company now operates in nine cities on the continent since it entered South Africa in 2012. It has since spread to Nigeria, Kenya and Egypt.

Like in many other parts of the world, Uber is facing resistance from traditional taxi drivers in African cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg and Nairobi.

According to Uber’s Nigeria General Manager, Ebi Atawodi, those resisting new technology from changing the way the transport business is done in Lagos and other cities on the continent are  only ignorant to how the system works.

“A lot of it comes from misunderstanding our platform. Uber is an open platform (and) anybody can join the platform once they meet the requirements,” Atawodi told CCTV Africa.

Atawodi said that the largest challenge for Uber in Africa was in infrastructure where the company has in some cases had create its own road maps where there existed none.

A 2010 World Bank report estimated that poor infrastructure curbs African economic growth by 2 percent per year and business productivity by 40 percent.

“The lack of infrastructure is also the attraction to Africa. Here sometime some things don’t exist at all. So you have a lot of opportunities. The big wins come with a lot of challenges,” she said.

One area Uber has had to innovate in Africa has been its payment methods.

While the services utilizes credit card in developed countries like the US and Europe, in cities like Lagos and Nairobi they’ve had to develop cash and mobile money pauments that are widely used in these parts.

Credits card penetration is still very low in Africa and in some cases like in Kenya it has been leapfrogged by mobile payments.