Ride-Hailing Firm Bolt Doubles Footprint In South Africa, Serving More Cities Than Uber

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
Bolt
South Africa is the largest African market for ride-hailing firm Bolt, and the company says that it has doubled its footprint there during the last year. Image supplied by Bolt

European ride-hailing firm Bolt is now available in more South African cities and towns than any other ride-hailing platform.

South Africa is Bolt’s largest African market, and the company says that it has doubled its footprint there during the last year, according to Techcentral.

Bolt offers ride-hailing service in 34 South African towns and cities.

Its global competitor Uber, by comparison, has service in six major South African cities including Johannesburg, Cape Town and Pretoria. 

Uber commands an estimated 75 percent of the South African ride-hailing market but does not appear to have plans to match Bolt’s expansion to many smaller cities.

The difference between Bolt and Uber

While Uber targets major cities, Bolt’s strategy in South Africa includes offering services in major cities and smaller towns that would otherwise not have access to ride-hailing services.

Examples of these South African towns that have ride-hailing services for the first time thanks to Bolt include eMalahleni, Mthatha, Vereeniging, Richard’s Bay, Thohoyandou, Mahikeng and Potchefstroom, according to IT-Online.

Bolt employs 150 permanent staff in South Africa to provide support services to drivers and riders. This is up from around 70 employees in 2017.

The key selling point for drivers to join Bolt is that the company takes a lower commission than most ride-hailing firms. Uber takes 25 percent while Bolt takes 15 percent from its drivers, Fin24 reports.

From an African perspective, Bolt is active in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda.

Uber has a strong presence in English-speaking countries including Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Egypt, and Morocco. Uber launched services in Ivory Coast in December 2019.

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Estonia-based Bolt — formerly Taxify — plans to launch a food delivery service in South Africa in 2020, according to Businesstech.

Bolt announced plans to launch a food delivery service worldwide in early 2019. South Africa will be one of the first. 

UberEats, Uber’s global food delivery service, has been available in South Africa since September 2016. Uber drivers deliver food in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth.