The East African - - OUTLOOK -

Data from Uber shows that South Africa and Kenya are its most lu­cra­tive mar­kets in Africa, the

re­ports. South Africa ranks first, with 969,000 ac­tive rid­ers, while Kenya has 363,000 ac­tive users. Both coun­tries have ex­pe­ri­enced vi­o­lent protests against Uber, mostly by taxi driv­ers, who ac­cuse it of un­fair com­pe­ti­tion. The com­pany launched its op­er­a­tions on the con­ti­nent four years ago. The data, which was re­leased by the com­pany on Thurs­day, shows there are 12,000 and 5,000 Uber driv­ers in South Africa and Kenya, re­spec­tively. Uganda and Tan­za­nia have 48,000 and 53,000 ac­tive rid­ers re­spec­tively, with each coun­try sign­ing-up 1,000 driv­ers. Ghana and Nige­ria have 140,000 and 267,000 ac­tive rid­ers re­spec­tively, with about 7,000 driv­ers us­ing the Uber app in Nige­ria while Ghana has 3,000. The data shows that there are 1.8 mil­lion ac­tive Uber users in Africa. Uber’s gen­eral man­ager for sub­sa­ha­ran Africa, Alon Lits, said the ser­vice has al­lowed peo­ple to have flex­i­ble work­ing hours: “Driv­ers love be­ing as flex­i­ble as they like; earn­ing what they want, when they want to sup­ple­ment their in­come.”

and ad­di­tional $0.6 per re when it de­buted in y 2015. driv­ers are charged a 25 nt com­mis­sion on ev­ery charge that has re­mained t de­spite the price cuts com­pany over time. Uber he charge is “a global d” that is used to “cater ket­ing costs.” r needs to mar­ket to rid­ers t driv­ers can con­tinue trips. This cost comes Uber’s ser­vice fee from re,” said Uber East Africa er­son Janet Kem­boi. other play­ers, in­clud­ing ab who en­tered the mar­ket la­tively lower rates, have rced to cut them fur­ther. an­uary this year, Tax­ify fares by 15 per cent to mum fare of $2.2, with base rate; a $0.04 per­charge; and an ad­di­tional r kilo­me­tre.

ll day

to make some money, the a ma­jor­ity of whom have the cars or are ser­vic­ing oans, work all day and can make $45 a day; pay owner $20; and fuel the bout $12-$15, leav­ing you or $6 af­ter a day’s work,” niel, a Tax­ify driver. n, an Uber fleet man­ager, has strug­gled to meet the he agreed with his leasees nt months as his busi­ness the brunt of the price ition. gs are tough. I know of ues who have had their Busi­ness Daily cars seized by banks be­cause they could not re­pay their loans,” he said.

An Uber driver is re­quired to re­mit $20 to re­pay the car loan and use $16 on fuel. Then there are other costs like the in­sur­ance cover and ve­hi­cle ser­vic­ing.

In Uganda, con­tracted driv­ers started fac­ing chal­lenges barely five months af­ter Uber launched in Kam­pala last year. Uber was of­fer­ing driv­ers in­cen­tives that saw them earn be­tween $57.1 and $100 a week, but stiff com­pe­ti­tion from the tra­di­tional taxi op­er­a­tors and boda bo­das (mo­tor­cy­cles) drove some driv­ers away.

In the first four months, Uber driv­ers were mak­ing about $4 per hour, but this has gone down to $1. Uber charges $0.37 as the base fare, plus $0.26 for ev­ery kilo­me­tre, and $0.06 for ev­ery minute spent on the road. Then there us the 25 per cent com­mis­sion.

The op­er­a­tors have also to pay for park­ing, av­er­ag­ing $5.7, and $12-$15 in tax to the Kam­pala Cap­i­tal City Author­ity ev­ery month.

In South Africa, the “Uber wars” of 2017 have evoked mem­o­ries of the “taxi wars” that be­gan in the late apartheid era, where turf wars were fought be­tween taxi as­so­ci­a­tions and minibus taxi driv­ers. Dur­ing that pe­riod, hun­dreds of peo­ple were killed as ri­val car­tels went to war to de­fend their mar­ket share.

When Uber ar­rived in South Africa in 2013, things changed dra­mat­i­cally. To­day, me­tered taxi driv­ers are ar­gu­ing that Uber driv­ers are steal­ing their busi­ness. But many of Uber’s new clien­tele claim they have long avoided me­tered taxis on the grounds that they are ex­pen­sive and unsafe.

As the de­mand for Uber grew, more and more driv­ers reg­is­tered. Along with South African driv­ers are many Zim­bab­weans flee­ing the col­lapse of their coun­try’s econ­omy. They are of­ten not el­i­gi­ble for other forms of em­ploy­ment, but many meet Uber’s back­ground checks, car and driv­ing checks, and so can earn a liv­ing as driv­ers in South Africa’s ur­ban cen­tres. This has only turned Uber into a flash­point for ten­sions over em­ploy­ment and wages.

Pic­ture: File

Uber driv­ers protest­ing the cut in fares speak to mo­torists on Nairobi streets in March this year.

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