Metered Taxi Drivers Protest, Uber Hires In Africa For UberEats

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Written by Dana Sanchez

We’ve all seen the media reports about UberEverything coming to Africa — but what does that really mean? In a nutshell, it means Uber needs more drivers and more managers in Africa.

Metered taxi drivers regularly protest against perceived unfair advantages Uber enjoys in the African countries where it does business. A protest of 100 drivers turned violent today in Cape Town, forcing an Uber driver to flee his car, htxt reported.

Ride-hailing app Uber is expanding to new markets in Africa and advertising for a South African manager for a restaurant food delivery service — UberEats, according to IndepdendentOnline.

The San Francisco-based tech company is also working on bringing to South Africa UberPool and UberRush.

UberEats will let people order food from restaurants and have it delivered to their door by Uber drivers. UberPool lets riders share a ride — and the cost — with others traveling along a similar route. UberRush is an on-demand delivery network that delivers items.

Then there’s UberYacht, UberChopper and UberHealth.

“Africa is our most recent expansion priority,” said Alon Lits, general manager of Uber Sub-Saharan Africa, CNBCAfrica reported in June, the same month Uber expanded its ride-hailing app in Uganda, Ghana and Tanzania. Uber is also in Nigeria and Kenya.

In May, Uber drivers and nurses delivered flu shots across South Africa through the Uber app in partnership with Discovery Health, part of a South Africa-based, JSE-listed financial services group that sells insurance. Discovery has subsidiaries in the U.S, U.K., China, Singapore, and Australia.

UberEats was first launched in Santa Monica, California, in August 2014 as an on-demand meal delivery service under the name UberFresh. One of Uber’s first expansion products, it partnered with local restaurants. The name later changed to UberEats, promised delivery time in 10 minutes or less, Forbes reported.

Uber has advertised for an UberEats manager and invited applications in South Africa, IOL reported.

“This is an intense business start-up role, and you will work with the UberEats operations teams along with the headquarters-based engineering product and process teams. You will have direct responsibility for the growth of the UberEats business,” read an ad that ran earlier this month.

On its official website, Uber posted jobs for several UberEats positions including general manager, marketing manager and courier operations manager for Johannesburg and Cape Town, HTXT reported.

“We’re looking for top talent to build the business,” the website said. “As the general manager for UberEats, you will be in charge of scaling and developing our food platform in your city. This is an intense business-side startup role, and you will have direct responsibility for the growth of the UberEats business.”

In the coming months, Uber plans to launch UberEats across more cities in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the company said.

How does Uber launch in a new market?

When Uber launches in a city, they do so with a launcher whose job is to grow the supply of drivers, Lits told CNBCAfrica. Data analytics ensures that Uber can effectively match demand with supply, he said. City hubs like Johannesburg help the launcher with marketing, creating demand in the marketplace.

“You can achieve huge efficiencies with this structure but we know in order to succeed we need to adapt to the local markets because one size does not fit all,” Lits said. “Local insights are very important. We are also able to leverage the global Uber network and expertise in the rest of the world to help provide best practice locally and scale each city efficiently.”

Innovation is driven out of necessity, Lits said. “So we host regular hackathons to create solutions for many of our country’s needs. Through standardizing and automating processes, we can successfully replicate the Uber experience in other markets.”

Driver discord

About 500 of Uber’s 4,000 drivers in South Africa joined the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union this month, according to IOL.

Uber could face labor disputes with union drivers unhappy with their working conditions, said union spokeswoman Zanele Sabela.

“The drivers say the rates Uber is charging are too low. These are not competitive rates and the drivers are not getting much out of it,” Sabela said.

Uber is credited with helping create employment for thousands of Africans who work independently as drivers for the tech company.