Uber’s newest rival for market share in Africa hails from Russia

Spoilt for choice.
Spoilt for choice.
Image: Reuters/Baz Ratner
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Global ride-hailing giant Uber has gone from having no competitors in Africa to having more than 50.

While it mainly contends with Taxify, the Estonian ride-hailing service, which is now in more African cities, Uber also faces competition from homegrown options like the Safaricom-backed Little Cabs in Kenya and regional players like Careem across North Africa. In fact, it tried to merge with Careem this year, but Egyptian regulators warned against the deal.

The latest market entrant is inDriver, a Russian ride-hailing company, which has launched in Arusha, Tanzania, its first market on the continent. The five-year old company operates in nine other countries across South and Central America as well as Europe. Long-term, inDriver hopes to differentiate its service by allowing drivers and riders haggle over final fare prices while it sets base fare price. inDriver is also hoping to rapidly grow its driver pool by charging no commissions on driver earnings for six months after which it will begin charging 5% to 8% in commissions—much lower than either Uber or Taxify. Drivers will also be able to view both pick-up and destination points before accepting rides.

inDriver’s play for drivers is not entirely new as incentivizing drivers has already proven to be a major part of the scrap for ride-hailing market share in Africa. But what it offers in driver incentives, inDriver will likely lack in financial might compared to the biggest players on the continent. It raised $10 million in its Series B funding round earlier this year. Uber and Taxify are both billion-dollar unicorns. 

Neither is showing any signs of slowing down on growing its Africa operations either. Taxify is eyeing ten-fold growth in the next two years and already operates in more African cities than Uber. For its part, Uber is looking to add Rwanda, Ivory Coast, Senegal and Mauritius among potential targets to the eight African countries in which it already operates. Uber has also shown a deeper interest in fitting into local transport ecosystems and has launched lower cost ride-hailing options with rickshaws in Kenya and motorcycles in Uganda. It’s now looking to roll out a new service in Nairobi to allow users book spots on commercial mini-buses—locally known as matatus—which remain the most common form of transport in the city.