NAIROBI, IT’S TIME TO UBER IT UP

Uber has seen some spectacular success with its app-based transportation service which operates in many cities around the world. Without the usual splendour or grandeur the ride-sharing service was launched in Nairobi on a regular Wednesday afternoon. The company has been working towards setting up shop in the Kenyan market for over a year now, after successfully launching operations in other African cities such as Lagos and Cairo.

As a Kenyan citizen who is regularly forced to use a taxi or other means of public transport, Uber is a very welcomed addition to the transport network. This is not to be mistaken with me being excited about it because it is innovative or it might be cheaper; but because it will help drive the cost of my transport down. Once you apply the common principle of demand and supply you can easily deduce that the more players in the market the cheaper the service is. Uber’s biggest selling point is that it potentially offers a lower fee than other taxi providers; for this simple reason Uber will be successful in attracting many new customers into the helm. Coupled with the fact that Kenya has a smartphone penetration of 67%, Uber has all the necessary tools to engage the market successfully.

However once they begin to regularly use the app whether they chose to stay or not definitely remains to be seen. The major form of transportation for Kenyans is matatu’s, mainly because it is the cheapest service available. They may get you there in double the time, and you probably won’t be in a pleasant mood after the ride because of the reckless driving and loud music but you would have spent an average of 100 ksh. Above and beyond that this method of transportation is well integrated with mobile money, and Kenya is the home of mobile money. Although one registers for Uber with their VISA or MasterCard, it would be a lot more convenient to have a mobile money option available as well.  That notwithstanding, the drivers assigned to me by the app have always been extremely polite and the car’s always well-conditioned and clean, a huge step up from the infamous matatu’s regularly used in Nairobi. The unique selling point for Uber Taxi in comparison to its competitor EasyTaxi is the fare:

  • Base Fare: KES100 + KES 4 per minute + KES 60 per km
  • Cancellation: KES 500
  • Minimum Fare: KES 300

It is straight forward, transparent and non-negotiable. This way you don’t need to bargain with your taxi driver when you feel he is unfairly over-charging you because this does happen more often than not. Again in comparison with EasyTaxi, there is no minimum fare and you are not charged by the kilometre. In one instance I saved 400 ksh using Uber in contrast to using EasyTaxi. For a young Kenyan girl looking to get to my final destination with the least amount of dust on my shoes as possible Uber Taxi is definitely helping me get there.

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