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Uber expands African offering; Uber Eats sees healthy growth in SA

Image of Uber sub-Saharan Africa GM Kagiso Khaole

Kagiso Khaole

24th October 2022

By: Irma Venter

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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Mobility platform Uber has about 20 000 drivers and delivery people earning an income through the Uber and Uber Eats apps in South Africa, which has more than 2.1-million active platform users, says newly appointed Uber sub-Saharan Africa GM Kagiso Khaole.

Uber, and Uber Eats, which focuses on restaurant deliveries, have collectively reached more than 30-million riders and eaters in sub-Saharan Africa since 2013, he adds.

Uber is available in more than 61 cities across seven countries in sub-Saharan Africa, namely South Africa, Ghana, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. 

Drivers on the platform have recently completed one-billion trips in Africa.

“As we gear ourselves to mark our tenth anniversary next year, we are excited about moving into more cities, enabling people to go anywhere or get anything,” says Khaole.

In the last month, Uber has become operational in Owerri and Akure, in Nigeria; Eldoret, Kisumu, Nakuru and Naivasha, in Kenya; and Tamale and Sunyani, in Ghana. 

“Every country is unique, so we take the time to understand each market’s needs so we can be responsive and adapt accordingly,” says Khaole.

“This has seen us launch new products across sub-Saharan Africa.”

These products includes UberX Share in Ghana and Nigeria, and Uber ChapChap Share in Kenya, all aimed at reducing rider costs and increasing demand for drivers.

These shared rides offerings allows users to save up to 30% of the trip fare when matched with a co-rider heading in the same direction. Where a match is not possible, users will still be able to save 5% from their ride.

“The introduction of UberX Share allows us to demonstrate the power of our platform – understanding the ability to match rider destinations while delivering convenience and affordability,” explains Khaole.

“We are a global company that builds locally. In Ghana and Nigeria we tapped into the local culture of car-pooling when moving around, which makes this product a great fit for the market.”

The new UberXL and UberVAN offerings also allow a number of people to travel together.

UberXL, launched in Nairobi, Kenya, provides seating for up to six people.

In South Africa, riders can now reserve their group travel 30 days in advance with UberXL Reserve and UberVAN Reserve. 

“Core to introducing this product was the understanding that the lifting of Covid restrictions has fuelled local and international travel,” says Khaole.

“In South Africa, the convenience of booking your ride in advance, at the same time as booking for your flight, enhances one's travel experience.”

Uber Comfort, which is currently only available in South Africa and Côte d’Ivoire, is set to expand to Ghana. 

“This bespoke offering is designed for riders looking for an upgrade to their everyday ride with extra comfort,” says Khaole.

“Uber Connect is one of the app’s most popular products available in South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda and Ghana,” he adds.

“Uber Connect is an on-demand delivery solution that allows users to send and receive packages with speed. The feature comes built-in with a pin verification, providing users peace of mind that their package is being delivered to the right person.”

Congestion, Safety Concerns
As one of the fastest-growing regions in the world, African cities present very real challenges when it comes to congestion, says Khaole.

“Safety is another challenge that we continue to face on the continent, which is why we are continuously looking at ways to innovate in response to the safety risks that come with moving around.”

Some notable safety features available in South Africa include the Emergency Assistance Button and Follow My Ride.

“We are also piloting our new Audio Recording feature that allows drivers and riders to record their trips and submit the recording to our support team in the event of a safety incident,” notes Khaole.

“We also have an incident response team which is available 24/7 to respond immediately to any reported incidents, and a law enforcement relations team is also on call to work with police at any time to respond to urgent incidents.”

In terms of vehicle standards, all drivers must pass a vehicle inspection at an Uber-approved inspection centre before taking their first trip and once a year after that. 

Those Ignored Short Trips…
Some Uber users in South Africa have recently expressed their dissatisfaction with the fact that Uber drivers seemingly ignore shorter trips in favour of longer ones.

“Drivers are independent contractors and use the Uber app for the flexibility and choice it offers,” explains Khaole.

“However, we recognise the pressures drivers are under, including the increasing cost of living and have implemented several fare increases this year alone, with the latest increase being announced this past July. 

“To respond to shorter trips, drivers may have noticed a difference in fare on familiar routes. When compared to fares prior to the change, drivers now earn more on short trips and slightly less on long trips,” says Khaole.

Newly Appointed
Khaole has been in his role since August this year.

“The journey to this point has been far from a straight line,” says Khaole. “I think that is part of the fun of growing as a generalist in the corporate world. 

“You get to evolve and reinvent yourself. My career began long before I ever walked into an office. As a budding entrepreneur, I dabbled in multiple startups and gigs from primary school through to university.”

This exploration process didn’t stop when Khaole got his first taste of corporate South Africa. 

“Over the years, I have worked in nearly every business unit and function. This allowed me to experience and understand business from multiple perspectives,” says Khaole.

“The pieces finally fell together when I took ownership of a business unit. 

“And, when the opportunity to play a part in one of the most iconic and impactful companies of this generation, I couldn’t say no. The learning and exploration continue in my role at Uber, which is one of the most dynamic environments I have ever experienced.”

Uber Eats Gains Weight
Uber’s overall vision is to become a one-stop shop for a wide variety of delivery needs, says Uber Eats sub-Saharan Africa GM Nakampe Molewa.

“We have aspirations of building an app of the future by creating a virtual mall experience that goes beyond just food. 

“Other categories we have ventured into include convenience stores, pharmacy outlets, alcohol and retail, and this shows us that the possibilities are endless.

“Since our launch six years ago, Uber Eats has expanded the number of restaurants from 1 000 since launch, to over 8 000 merchants across 36 cities in South Africa and Kenya.”

Uber Eats has shown a 67% year-on-year growth in subscriptions in the South African and Kenyan markets.

Grocery and convenience orders in South Africa have grown by 68.5% between April, 2021 and April, 2022, says Molewa.

 

 

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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