This September Uber celebrates four years on the African continent, and with more than 1.8 million active riders using the app since Uber’s launch in Johannesburg in September 2013, it’s clear that Uber has achieved a lot in a short timeframe.
Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has certainly benefitted from Uber’s arrival. Citizens have a new, reliable way to get around, entrepreneurs have found a new way to earn an income and cities have also benefitted – with possibly fewer cars on the road and therefore fewer carbon emissions.
A look at driver-partners
In a region of high unemployment and stagnating economic prospects¹, Uber’s business partnership approach provides an accessible means for entrepreneurs to not only supplement their own income but also to become small business owners, thereby helping to improve the lives and futures of individuals, families, and communities.
The steadily growing number of Uber driver-partners in countries across the region is a testament to the appeal of the model because it creates real opportunities for local entrepreneurs. And as demand for rides also grows, so does the demand for driver-partners.
“Currently we have more than 29 000 driver-partners taking advantage of Uber’s earning opportunities. Drivers love being as flexible as they like; earning what they want, when they want, whether it’s a full-time entrepreneur or someone looking to supplement their income,” says Uber General Manager for Sub-Saharan Africa, Alon Lits.
“Ongoing commitment to our driver-partners is a key priority; ensuring they receive the latest in technological innovations means they can be at the top of their game,” adds Lits.
Uber continues to open support hubs across the continent to ensure driver-partners are well-equipped. Apart from existing hubs across the continent, three more of these state-of-the-art Greenlight Hubs was opened in Dar Es Salaam, Nairobi, Kampala, Kumasi and Lagos this year and, in addition to offering driver-partners technical and app support, Uber also offers information sessions and workshops to driver-partners.
A look at riders
The 1.8 million active riders using the app since Uber’s launch on the continent is a testament to the new mode of transport that riders are embracing. Which is not hard to believe when with Uber, riders have access to safety features such as driver and vehicle identification, In-App help, GPS and feedback post each trip.
Uber has brought many benefits to riders that did not exist before Uber – from its GPS tracking and 24/7 support to new technologies being added, such as ‘scheduled trips’, as the business develops.
Repeat Uber usage in South Africa is a prime example of shifting private transport perceptions. This month more than 25 000 South Africans each used Uber more than 10 times a week, which points to the increasing adoption of this tech-driven solution, not just as a leisure transport option, but also for work and business purposes.
And while riders and drivers benefit, Uber continues to keep social and environmental needs at the fore
This year alone, Uber has used its network to support and assist those in need. In March UberCommunity was quickly activated for the thousands of victims of the terrible Hout Bay fires in Cape Town, South Africa. UberCommunity allowed riders to request a car to collect items for donation to the people and animals impacted. In June, UberCommunity again assisted the thousands affected by the Cape storms and the Knysna-Plett fires in South Africa.
Similarly, in September last year, Uber assisted a local Nigerian business in Lagos after devastating destruction, by uniting with the local community to help Nuli Juice continue its operations. And across East Africa in early December, thousands of riders contributed to SOS Children’s Villages through an app donation dive dubbed UBERGIVING.
Importantly, Uber’s approach to shifting perspectives of how people in sub-Saharan Africa move around their cities is one of partnership with all stakeholders. Uber strives at all times to collaborate closely with local regulators to understand the challenges they are grappling with in their cities and then help them to develop workable and accessible solutions that benefit people and economies. It’s with this in mind that Uber has just launched UberMovement in Johannesburg, a new website to help urban planners, city leaders, third parties and the public better understand the transportation needs of their cities.
“Four years have gone by incredibly quickly. We’ve learnt and grown; we look back at our time in sub-Saharan Africa with pride because we’ve achieved so much and look forward to what’s next to come”, concludes Lits.