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Safaricom's Little Cab, a competitor of Uber in Kenya, starts in Nigeria and Uganda - Quartz Africa
The Little Cab Ride-Hailing application, supported by telecommunications provider Safaricom, is gradually putting a stop to Uber's business in Kenya. It has registered 1,600 registered riders since its inception in July, surpassing the number of just over 1,000 Uber riders since it went into operation in January 2015. Little Cab has also reduced its fees this past month from 55 SK ($0.54) to 30 SK ($0.30) per kilometre, with no Flatrates or increases like Uber, making it effective the lowest cost electric taxi available in the state.
As Little Cab expands into Uganda and Nigeria in 2017, competitive conditions between the two firms in Kenya are now likely to become even more so. There is little hope of penetrating new marketplaces with low prices and attracting more people. Craft Silicon, a technology company based in Kenya and active throughout the entire world, has offices in India and the USA.
Unknown as to what telecommunications providers they will be working with, Little CEO Kamal Budhabhatti said to the Business Daily paper that they were hoping to benefit from their understanding of these emerging economies to be able to compete alongside other e-taxi service providers. This will be Little Cab's first trip outside Kenya, but Uber is already operating in 14 towns in 8 African nations, among them Nairobi, Kampala, Lagos and Abuja.
Safaricom, Kenya's biggest business, started Little Cab mainly as a rival to Uber with lower cost and more localised offerings. The Safaricom Group also sees the application as part of its diversification and fidelity strategy. The Little Cab allows clients to make payments for their journey or for others via Safaricom's portable cash services, M-Pesa,, buy promotional time during the journey, use free Wi-Fi, non-participants to call a taxi via a USSD system, and ask females for security only from 6pm to 6pm for feminine males.
However, the advent of Little Cab and the dramatic price reductions have thrown up the question of whether they are aimed at driving the San Francisco-based Uber out of Kenya with billions of dollars - allegations that Safaricom chief executive officer Bob Collymore has "confused" him. In July, Little Cab and the Estonia Taxify apprentice introduced a 35% cut in ticket prices from 60 to 35 Schillings to the Kenyan ticket price after Little Cab and the Estonia apprentice Taxify were introduced.
This move triggered protest from kenyan taxi riders who said that Uber was using them as "slaves". Headquartered in Dubai, Mondo Ride also joined the Korean peninsula in September and immediately lowered its price to beat Uber. Nairobi alone is estimated to have more than 10,000 taxis, bringing in 20 million schillings a year.
Uber sees Nairobi as a ray of hope for his future: the riders drive 10,000 rides a night, as opposed to Little Cab, which records 3,500 rides. Uber's July reductions have even worked and show an increase in revenue for our partners.