Uber aiming for expansion in fast-growing West African markets

LAGOS (Reuters) – Global ride-hailing firm Uber Technologies Inc is in talks with regulators over plans to expand into two West African countries and provide a boat service in Nigerian megacity Lagos, a company executive said on Thursday.

In much of sub-Saharan Africa there are low levels of personal car ownership, rapidly expanding populations and a lack of efficient mass transport systems in fast-growing cities.

Uber, which said it has 36,000 active drivers in sub-Saharan Africa, operates in a number of countries in East and South Africa but is largely absent from West Africa, aside from Nigeria and Ghana.

The firm has identified the region as a target for potential expansion, Chief Business Officer Brooks Entwistle told Reuters. He said the company was in talks with regulators in Ivory Coast and Senegal regarding the possible launch of services.

“Both Abidjan and Dakar are logical opportunities for us,” said Entwistle, adding that discussions were at an early stage. He did not disclose further details.

“We have talked about West Africa today as being a big growth priority for us and launch priority for us moving forward,” said Entwistle.

Ivory Coast and Senegal have two of the world’s fastest growing economies, according to the International Monetary Fund. Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, is also the continent’s most populous nation.

A number of motorcycle ride-hailing firms have also targeted West Africa as an area for expansion in the last few months.

Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos, a megacity of around 20 million inhabitants built on a lagoon where Uber began operating in July 2014, is beset by heavy congestion.

Entwistle, who spoke to Reuters during an interview in Lagos, said the company was in talks with state regulators about providing a transport system on the city’s waterways as a way of bypassing its choked roads.

“We are looking at the waterways here, which are very interesting to us as it relates to a potential service,” said Entwistle.

The company has launched a boat service in the Indian city of Mumbai in the last few months.

“We did launch Uber Boat in Mumbai and we have watched the product develop. It’s in its early stages and we think there is high relevance here,” he said, referring to Lagos.

The Uber executive, who described Lagos as “one of the great growth opportunity cities in the world”, said the company has also held discussions with a bus firm and regulators in the city.

He said the talks were in line with a global push by the company to develop products that can work alongside public transit systems.

Entwistle said the combination of population growth and congestion made Lagos, and other cities in the region, attractive.

The United Nations predicts that Nigeria’s population will more than double to 400 million by 2050, which would make it the third most populous country in the world after China and India.

Uber faces stiff competition in African cities from Estonian ride-hailing firm Bolt, which until early 2019 was called Taxify. Bolt has grabbed business largely by taking a smaller cut from drivers using its app.

Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Jan Harvey

Related Content

United Capital sees positive outlook for Nigerian equities in H2

United Capital says the only way is up for the equities market in the second half of the year, as they believe the market remains undervalued compared to emerging markets and frontier market peers. Wale Olusi, Head of Research at United Capital joins CNBC Africa for more.

Crusader Sterling Pensions: How Covid-19 will impact Nigerian pension funds in H2

Niyi Falade, CEO of Crusader Sterling Pensions joins CNBC Africa for some insight on how Nigeria’s Pension Fund Administrators plan to weather the Covid-19 storm in the second half of the year.

A train bound for Africa’s future to emerge from the continent’s COVID-19 gloom.

On top of this, the fact that this was a contract won at one end of the continent by an entrepreneur from another end of continent also bodes well for the pan-African future of business.

Nigeria Manufacturing PMI sees steep rise to 53.9 points in June

After recording its lowest ever Manufacturing PMI at 43.3 points in May, FBN Quest's PMI recorded a steep rise to 53.9 points in the month of June. Chinwe Egwim, Economist at FBN Quest Merchant Bank joins CNBC Africa for more.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Fitch expresses doubt over SA’s debt consolidation plans

Just last week finance minister Tito Mboweni outlined the emergency budget to nurse South Africa through the Covid-19 crisis. A big part of this budget was a plan for South Africa to get its debt under control within four years. Fitch Ratings, the agency that downgraded South Africa in April doubts whether South Africa can do this. CNBC Africa’s Chris Bishop spoke to Jan Friederich, Senior Director of Fitch Ratings for more.

Rwanda, USAID sign over $643.8 mn deal to support trans-formative development

Rwanda has signed a financing agreement with the USAID worth about $643.8 million to support Rwanda’s development efforts in the next five years. Moreover, Rwanda Convention Bureau announced the reopening of meetings and conferences. Edwin Ashimwe, Journalist with The New times joins CNBC Africa for more.

How COVID-19 is reshaping Kenya’s education system

On the continent, there has been an increased awareness of the impact of cultural practices on educational achievement that has challenged the education systems. In Kenya, the government is investing in all forms of education; however, experts have noted that for the rise of automation and technological advancements to be effective, an updated skill set is required. Ayub Odida, Researcher at ACAL Consulting joins CNBC Africa for more.

Old Mutual appoints new CEO

“We are delighted at Iain’s appointment. Over the last year, Iain has worked to steer Old Mutual through some significant leadership and operational challenges, demonstrating resilience and an acute sense of business acumen aligned to the Group’s values, purpose, and strategy. On behalf of the Board, we wish to thank him for his contribution during this time. We are confident that he will continue to galvanise the organisation around the delivery of its strategy and purpose and we look forward to working with him in this regard,” says Old Mutual Chairperson, Trevor Manuel.

Partner Content

Sanlam launches urgent job-preservation initiative in response to COVID-19

Sanlam Investments is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic through large-scale support of the recovery of South African companies, from small enterprises to...

Is Market Volatility Here For The Foreseeable Future?

Content provided by CompareForexBrokers Prior to understanding why market volatility might be here to stay for the foreseeable future,...

Trending Now

Zimbabwe’s Landela agrees to buy state-owned gold mines, seeks more assets

HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe’s Landela Mining Venture has reached agreements to take over and revive four idle state-owned gold mines and is...

How Zimbabwe farmers will be trained how to farm with a scheme from Belarus with love

When the farm invasions were unleashed by the people in power in 2000, it led to bloodshed and random confiscation that reaped a bitter harvest of lost production and exports that persists until this day. That year with all of its fumbling fury fuelled with the idea that to get rich you merely had to own a farm, is always seen as a turning point for the industry. It created a large slice of the country’s GDP and as it fell, so did the fortunes of Zimbabwe.

South Africa’s National Treasury says “no further action” to bailout SAA airline

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa’s National Treasury said on Friday there was “no further action” planned to bailout struggling national airline...

What Does The Future Of Air Travel Look Like?

Of all the industries the coronavirus pandemic has affected, the airline industry is among those that have been hit the hardest. According to the International Air Transport Association, airlines' passenger revenue is estimated to sink by over $300 b
- Advertisement -