In September, Uber published figures of their active users in countries across Africa. According to the report, Uber has 1.8 million active users in Africa. With Nigeria’s huge population (193 million) and touted smartphone penetration statistics, many watchers expected to see the country do well against smaller populations. But it turns out that South Africa and Kenya with populations of 56 million and 48 million inhabitants respectively had other ideas.
Top Uber Countries In Africa
Here are the top 4 Uber countries in Africa:
- South Africa: 969,000 active users / 12,000 drivers
- Kenya: 363,000 active users / 5,000 drivers
- Nigeria: 267,000 active users / 7,000 drivers
- Ghana: 140,000 active users / 3,000 drivers
Let’s leave South Africa out of the equation for the purposes of this discussion. South Africa has a much more advanced economy than Nigeria. It is easy to see how they top the Africa charts for Uber. How Kenya pipped Nigeria to gain a significant lead is the elephant in the room.
Note how Uber Nigeria has more drivers than Uber Kenya: 2,000 more drivers, to be precise. Yet Uber Kenya has over 100,000 more active users than its Nigerian counterpart does. What is happening in Kenya (or in Nigeria) that has produced this skewed chart?
It could be argued that Nigerians are not great adopters of mobile apps as Kenyans are. That flies in the face of information that is available to us. Look at figures for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter usage across both countries and that is just not true.
Uber Nigeria Woes
From my study of the situation, Uber Nigeria is the problem. The service has consistently shot itself in the foot, annoying both users and drivers at almost every step of the way. Users get billed wrongly and get little or no redress, and poorly-trained, badly behaved drivers frustrate users to no end. Drivers get shafted and have protested again and again.
Social media is often treated to outrage by frustrated Uber users in Nigeria who have been subjected to one form of abuse or the other by drivers or by Uber itself.
My Personal Experience
A couple of times, the Uber drivers were no better than danfo (Lagos yellow bus) drivers. They switched lanes suddenly and generally drove like they were chased by demons. On two different occasions, my requested rides have been abruptly cancelled by the driver. I recall how Uber itself shafted me of my duly earned promo credit balance.
In recent times, Uber drivers who have themselves been frustrated by the service, have taken to signing up on rival platforms like Taxify. They often prefer to default to the latter for picking passengers. As such, it is likely that many of those 7,000 Uber drivers in Nigeria are more active giving rides on competing platforms than on Uber.
I have no detailed info about Uber Kenya, but news about Uber Nigeria says that all is not sweet and rosy with the service in Africa’s most populous country. Perhaps it is not too difficult to see how Uber Kenya active users are ahead of Uber Nigeria active users.
Uber is in its fourth year of operation in Africa.
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