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Uber Aims To Expand In West African Countries

By Kelsey Marie

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The popular ride-hailing app, Uber Technologies Inc, is planning on expanding into two West African countries as well as providing a boat service in Lagos, Nigeria.

Uber is currently operating in countries in East and South Africa but is noticeably absent in West African countries, with the exception of Ghana and Nigeria.

There are still low levels of people owning cars in the majority of sub-Saharan Africa despite the rapidly growing populations and lack of reliable transportation systems in big cities.

There are 36,000 active drivers for Uber in sub-Saharan Africa and Uber has identified this region as a target for expansion.

The chief business officer Brooks Entwistle told Reuters that Uber is looking at Ivory Coast and Senegal as locations to launch their services in.

“Both Abidjan and Dakar are logical opportunities for us. We have talked about West Africa today as being a big growth priority for us and launch priority for us moving forward”, says Entwistle.

According to the International Monetary Fund, Ivory Coast and Senegal have two of the fastest growing economies in the world with Nigeria being Africa’s largest economy and the most populated nation on the continent.

Lagos, the commercial capital of Nigeria, has around 20 million people and was built on a lagoon in which Uber launched their services there in July 2014.

The Uber routes in Lagos are now heavily congested and the company is planning to launch water routes to combat the congested roads.

Uber has launched a boat service in Mumbai, India a few months ago.

“We did launch Uber Boat in Mumbai and we have watched the product develop. It’s in its early stages and we think there is high relevance here (referring to Lagos)”, says Entwistle.

He also described Lagos as “one of the great growth opportunity cities in the world” and mentioned future plans of Uber developing products to work alongside public transit systems in Lagos.

According to predictions by the United Nations, Nigeria’s population will more than double to 400 million by the year 2050 — making it the third most populated country in the world after China and India.

Uber’s current competition in African countries is the fellow ride-sharing app Bolt which was formerly called Taxify.

Bolt became competition after taking smaller cuts from the drivers who use their app.

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Kelsey Marie

Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie

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