Uber learns lesson in Nairobi

The global ride-hailing service has to adapt to local customs

Uber has been operational in Nairobi since January this year, and the company's experience in the city has been a sort of test case for what it can learn as it expands internationally

Nairobi is being hailed as one of the fastest growing Uber cities, overtaking South African cities such as Cape Town and Johannesburg. Credit cards are not used in the city as frequently as they are elsewhere and this has forced the company to adopt cash payments in a two-month trial period that has produced tremendous results for the company.

In the limited trial period, Uber has seen a growth in rides, to three times its previous numbers. New driver acquisitions have doubled and their user base has grown five fold. The company said that, “Nairobi is one of the fastest growing cities internationally for Uber following the launch of the cash test pilot. It showed there was huge pent up demand for the Uber service.”

Alon Lits, the Regional General Manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Uber, thinks that there are factors other than cash payments that are in play.

The East African region is known for its use of mobile money services as opposed to credit and debit card payments.

“We have really been impressed with the growth and how quickly Nairobians have embraced the technology. The challenge we initially faced was the cash aspect," Lits said.

Uber does face, however, resistance from drivers of other services. Some private cab company drivers say that the service is undercutting them by offering very low fares. One Uber driver, who wished not to be identified, said she sometimes fears to be identified as an Uber driver.

However, Lits explained that once they meet the company requirements, private taxi company drivers can still sign up for Uber, and also do their regular work without interruption.

“The only requirement is that if they are busy with their own clients they are offline [on Uber],” Lits said.

Uber is also trying to engage the country’s policy makers to avoid any legal issues.

“We welcome regulation. We have had engagements with policy makers," Lits said. "They see the benefits that Uber can bring to the city and to riders."

The growth of smartphone usage in Nairobi has also helped fuel the growth of the service. Lits said that the eagerness of Kenyans to adopt to technology is a huge sign that the business will flourish in Nairobi and hopefully in other cities in the region.

The Uber service in Nairobi is the first in Africa to customize its application for deaf and hard of hearing drivers. The partnership has been made possible by a collaboration with the Kenya National Association for the Deaf.

“It’s an innovation we developed in the US. So we have tweaked the driver application slightly to make it more accessible to deaf and our hard of hearing driver partners,” Lits explained. The application flashes, rather than beeps, and allows text as a form  communication. Users who request rides will be notified that the driver is deaf or hard of hearing and will be prompted to input their destination.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

Data has the power to build or burn brands

A brand can be severely wounded by use or misuse of any of its assets and you could say data has the greatest power of all to inflict damage.

Lucy Acheson

Head of data strategy and customer experience, LIDA

Totto and your inorganic future

At Cannes Lions this year we’ve been treated to many artificial intelligence (AI) insights. It’s one of the major discourses of our time.

Richard Brett

CEO, opr

Personas of one and the rise of ‘always there’ marketing

I’ve got some bad news. The ‘always on’ marketing approach that many companies have only just fully implemented is already out of date.

Nigel Roberts

Founding partner and strategy lead, Yell

I read you post full. It's really good .

Yusuf

Salesforce ups the Marketing Cloud ante with Datorama acquisition

Read more

Promotion is difficult. You should be able to do it. Sometimes it turns out bad, and when you turn to professionals, it turns out well - ...

Jordan Samuil

Village Roadshow partners with Lion for pourage rights and promotional partnership

Read more

This is very good news for Australian SMEs as ActiveCampaign is an very powerful marketing automation / email marketing tool that costs a...

Lawrence

SMB marketing automation provider sets up Asia Pac HQ in Sydney

Read more

Completely agree! For the best commercial properties in Mumbai, visit our website - Jagaha!

Gizelle

Salesforce ups the Marketing Cloud ante with Datorama acquisition

Read more

Carisoprodol is used for treatment of pain.so it has some amount of drug use it carefully . Get its complete usage and prescription from ...

jensons henry

CMO profile: The strategy behind Cash Converters brand and customer experience reboot

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in