Uber’s move to set up shop in Rwanda hits snag

Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the Head of Transport regulation department at RURA. File.

Uber has shelved its plans to begin operations in Rwanda after it emerged the App-based ride-hailing services firm faced obstacles in securing an operating licence.

Officials from Rwanda Utilities Regulatory Authority (RURA), the sector regulator, told The New Times in an exclusive interview that Uber failed to meet some regulatory requirements.


Emmanuel Asaba Katabarwa, the Head of Transport regulation department at RURA, said that “Uber has applied although they have not met the licence requirements”.


Katabarwa did not specify the requirements that Uber failed to meet, saying they usually don’t discuss details of the applicants.


“The moment they meet the requirements, they will start operating,” he noted.

A top official at Uber, who is based in South Africa, told The New Times that the company has cancelled its immediate plans to enter the Rwandan market. The firm has been in the process of recruiting a country manager to lead its operations in Rwanda.

“No launch plans for 2018 and nothing yet for 2019,” the official said, preferring to remain anonymous since they are not authorised to speak on behalf of the company.

In August this year, the Government confirmed that Uber had applied for a licence to operate in the country.

The Spokesperson for Uber Africa, Samantha Allenberg, told The New Times that they normally don’t comment on markets in which they don’t operate, but confirmed the firm does not have immediate plans to launch operations in Rwanda.

“We are part of a broader mobility movement, establishing smart cities of the future and we are constantly exploring our options of where to go next. We have no immediate plans to launch in Rwanda at this time,” Allenberg said.

At the time Uber expressed interest in Rwanda, the San Fransisco, U.S.-based firm indicated that they had spotted some big opportunities here that may help them grow their business and raise more profits.

Uber’s 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”.



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