Uber Plans Boat Service In Nigeria, Expansion In Francophone Africa

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
boat service
Uber drivers in the city center of Cape Town, South Africa. AP Photo – Schalk van Zuydam

Global ride-hailing firm Uber plans to expand into Senegal and Ivory Coast as part of a focus on the French-speaking West African market and is considering launching a boat service in Lagos, Nigeria.

With 36,000 active drivers in sub-Saharan Africa, Uber operates in nine African countries.

The Silicon Valley-based firm has a foothold in East and South Africa, but only a handful of Nigerian and Ghanaian cities are supported by Uber in West Africa.

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Uber has identified West Africa as a target for potential expansion. Ivory Coast and Senegal have some of the fastest growing economies in the world, growing at 7.5 and 6.9 percent per year respectively, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Uber CEO Brooks Entwistle said that the company was in talks with regulators in the two Francophone African countries regarding the possible launch of services, Reuters reports.

Uber closed above its IPO price of $45 for the first time on Thursday, June 27 after the West African expansion was reported in the media, according to BusinessInsider.

Entwistle described West Africa as a “big growth priority for us and launch priority moving forward”.

An Uber boat service for Lagos

He was speaking from Lagos, where he was in talks with Nigerian regulators about providing a transport system on the city’s waterways to ease traffic congestion, Moneyweb reported.

Built on a massive lagoon, the city of Lagos has a population of 22 million people. The roads within the city are often congested with traffic.

Already larger in population than New York and London, Lagos is expected to reach a population of 100 million people by 2100, 702 reports.

Uber has been operating their ride-hailing service in Lagos since July 2014 and the boat-riding services would add to their presence in the city.

The company launched boat-riding services in Mumbai, India in February 2019, according to an Uber statement. This service is expected to be replicated in Lagos if negotiations with regulators are successful.

Called Uber Boat, the on-demand service provides transportation from the city’s popular coastal routes via speed boats.

Riders can access two variants of Uber Boat based on seating capacity – 6-8 seater for Uber Boat and 10+ seater for Uber Boat XL, the statement explains.