Uber’s relentless expansion across the world has sometimes been slowed in heavily regulated cities but the company will not have any such problems in Accra, Ghana where it launched a fortnight ago.
Uber and the Ghanaian ministry of transport have entered into a ‘Statement of Understanding’ which will herald “a new, forward-looking regulatory framework that allows for ridesharing technology and regulates its use and adoption by both riders and the individual drivers and companies that use it to source business.” Put another way: Uber could very well end up writing the rules it will play by.
Helping to create Accra’s ride-sharing regulations could be the ideal scenario for Uber which has previously said that most transport-related policies were “written before the advent of smartphones or Google Maps” and should be updated. The company’s operations have been hampered or suspended in cities where ride-sharing is expressly abolished or stricter policies exist.
While it might create a regulatory framework streamlined with its existing policy outline, Uber may still face opposition from local taxi groups should they feel as though the company is getting an advantage or putting them out of business as has been the case in some of its other African markets. Uber drivers have been targets of violent attacks in Cairo and Nairobi, and in South Africa the company resorted to hiring a local private security firm to aid drivers in emergency situations.
Because of this controversy, executives from the company often claim they would prefer for Uber to be regulated than compete in a market without clear guidelines. In 2015, nearly two dozen US states passed ride-hailing legislation that followed Uber’s policy outline. A key part of Uber’s corporate strategy is to use its well-funded resources to lobby policymakers in the cities and countries it launches. To date Uber has raised more than $11.5 billion at a valuation of $62.5 billion.
Uber has also received good news in Nigeria, where it currently operates in two cities—Lagos and Abuja. Nigerian lawmakers have passed a resolution in favor of integrating ridesharing into the country’s transport infrastructure. Among others, the resolution will urge the transport ministry and its agencies “to adopt a forward-looking and receptive approach to all future smart mobility innovations.”