Uber is in the middle of a bruising battle for dominance in east Africa’s largest economy: Kenya. The ride-hailing company started operating in the cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Thika last year.
It has already outlasted the online cab operator Easy Taxi, which opted out of the Kenyan market in May this year following a decision by one of its backers, Goldman Sachs, to direct all its investments towards the more profitable Uber.
However, Uber now has a new domestic rival: Safaricom. It’s one of Kenya’s largest companies, 40% owned by Vodafone, with $380m (£265m) profits in 2015. Its own taxi-hailing brand Little Cab, developed in partnership with Kenyan software company Craft Silicon, launched in July with a pricing system significantly cheaper than Uber.
In response, Uber slashed its taxi fare prices by 35% in August. For the drivers, Little Cab currently takes a 15% commission off the taxi fare, while Uber takes 25% commission.
For Kenyans, the battle for dominance brings the prospect of cheaper, easier to organise and more reliable transport by taxi, but it is unclear whether it will solve its capital Nairobi’s costly congestion and “mind-boggling” air pollution.
Adapted from Guardian