Uber edges closer to entering Rwanda market

Passengers inside an Uber taxi. Net photo.

Doubts about whether Uber will soon extend its operations to Rwanda have now been cleared following the public announcement in which the company says it is looking for a country lead in Rwanda.

The latest information indicates that the global ride-hailing company is hiring a country manager for their Rwanda operations.

This follows the firm’s expression of interest in Rwandan market.

The Government of Rwanda had late last month confirmed to The New Times that Uber had approached RURA, the sector regulator, with an aim to start operations in the country.

By press time, officials at Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA) were not available to confirm whether they have awarded the firm with a licence to operate.

The U.S. firm, however, says they have spotted some big opportunities that may help them grow their business and raise more profits.

But the firm also thinks that Rwandan market might be challenging with established competition and complex market dynamics.

They are looking for a team to advance their operations in different Rwandan cities. Uber regional officials said they will be willing to provide more information on the latest developments “in the near future”.

This also comes at a time rivals like Estonia-based Taxify and Kenya’s Little have also expressed strong interest in opening shop in Rwanda.

For Taxify, which operates in more than 25 countries, their plans for Rwanda are at an “advanced level”.

The firm had in July announced that they were “expanding in Rwanda” and looking for a driven operations manager in Kigali, “who can sort up the supply, support the demand, and grow Taxify further”.

Similarly, Little, another taxi-hailing firm, has expressed interest and its chief executive officer earlier announced they were in discussions with a local partner to bring ‘Little’ to Kigali.

John Munanira, who heads the Airport Taxi Drivers’ Association of Kigali (ATAK), told The New Times that they had heard comments about Uber in other regional markets where they operate.

“Players in the region where Uber operates say there are disagreements on their pricing. If this is indeed true, it is something that anyone can be concerned about,” he noted.

He also highlighted that the issue of pricing is where existing taxi business still differs from new tech-driven transport companies.

“For instance, there is something called Yego Cab already operating here. The Government wants us to work with them but their pricing is unbearable at the moment,” he explained.

Yego Cab is among a few players that have already secured licence to operate locally. It claims it is a ‘metering’ system that only seeks to bring efficiency in transportation.

Yego Cab wants to equip all taxis with meters and local operators say it wants to charge 10.5 per cent on each journey completed.

“This doesn’t make sense considering the current fuel prices and other costs we have incurred on upgrading our fleet for the past eight years,” Munanira noted.

editorial@newtimes.co.rw

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