Uber’s East Africa expansion strategy

kenya nairobi uber chap chap
Nairobi was the first city in Africa in which Uber did a pilot test of its economic ride option Chap Chap. © Uber on Twitter

East Africa has been placed on Uber roadmap. It’s rich economy per capita is drawing Uber to invest in the country. As a result, the ride services firm is considering expanding into two East African countries by the end of 2018. Uber stated it plans on launching low cost services, including Chap Chap in Kenya.

In Kenya, Uber will compete with Estonian ride-hailing firm Taxify, Nairobi-based Mondo Ride and Little, which has a partnership with telecoms operator Safaricom. Nairobi was the first city in Africa in which Uber did a pilot test of its economic ride option Chap Chap, using 300 small brand-new Suzuki Altos.

Thanks to that first initiative, there are now more than 400 Chap Chaps in East Africa, including in Kenya, Uber’s second-largest market in sub-Saharan Africa. Incidentally, Chap Chap which means “faster” in Kiswahili.

“We are focusing hard on Chap Chaps,” said Loic Amado, Uber’s general manager for East Africa and terming the service “a tremendous success so far”.

Uber’s ride services strategy for East Africa banked on using the Alto which has a higher fuel-efficiency than the alternatives it uses in other countries.

Such has been the popularity of the low-cost service that Uber is considering expanding it into two other countries in the region before the end of 2018, said Amado. He declined to give details.

Uber’s East Africa strategy includes other low cost options such as rickshaw services in Tanzania and a motorcycle service in Uganda.

“You are able to get a much bigger piece of the population in touch with your technology and then it’s easy to afterwards add the additional products like uberX or more premium (products),” said Amado.

Uber has 311,000 active monthly riders in East Africa with 9,000 active drivers. It operates in four cities Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.

Uber’s strategy also incorporates safety concerns for riders. It has introduced rider insurance for uberBoda in Kampala and Nairobi, said Amado.